Page 5 of 7

Re: Can't Judge a Powder B

Posted: March 2nd, 2015, 5:40 am
by dholdgreve
Be careful here... This issue is not with the plastic tubes, but with the caps. The rules specifically do not say that any type of stoppers or caps are allowed, which means they are not, and should be treated as contraband. If you have caps for your tubes, while everyone else does not, you are exercising an unfair advantage over the other teams. I'll be running CJAP at Regionals in a few weeks, and teams with unauthorized equipment will be penalized 5 points for each item I find in the kit that is not on the approved list, whether they have used it or not...
READ THE RULES CAREFULLY!

Re: Can't Judge a Powder B

Posted: March 2nd, 2015, 5:52 am
by MareezyWA
Thank you very much. I thought the tubes would be OK but was wondering about the caps. If you say the tubes are OK, we will proceed WITHOUT caps. The caps come with the tubes and are sure not necessary. Glad that you are strict about the rules. At regional, there were students with test tube clamps that are not on the list. Most of the students also had thermometers which were not on the list that students could bring. I am so grateful for this forum and for the opportunity to ask questions so that we do not repeat some of the mistakes that others made but were not penalized for. Our coach always tells us to bring just what is on the list and told us to check because with you because she thought the caps would not be allowed either. Glad that she thinks like you do.

Re: Can't Judge a Powder B

Posted: March 2nd, 2015, 6:32 am
by dholdgreve
Your coach is a wise, wise person! (LOL) Seriously, allowing some teams to have caps or thermometers, while others don't really penalizes the teams that respect and follow the rules. At our regionals, I will be applying a 5 point penalty for every piece of equipment found in the kits that is not on the list... and you will still not be allowed to use it! This will get very costly if you bring in a bag of stoppers!.. In addition, review your safety PPE... Hair shoulder length or longer MUST be tied back AND KEPT BEHIND YOU at all times!... Lab coats and aprons are required to be at least to the knees. Teams that are not in compliance with all safety rules will not be allowed to compete until they are. Most chem aprons are sleeveless, so you must have a long sleeve shirt on under that. If you have a long sleeve shirt on, I can overlook a long sleeve lab coat, since it places a double layer requirement with lab coats and a single layer with aprons, but that's about the only safety issue I can work with.

Re: Can't Judge a Powder B

Posted: March 2nd, 2015, 7:01 am
by chalker
..... At our regionals, I will be applying a 5 point penalty for every piece of equipment found in the kits that is not on the list... and you will still not be allowed to use it! ......
A couple comments here, which as always are unofficial:

1. Keep in mind there are something like 300 regional tournaments that will be held this year, every one run by a different event supervisor. Not all event supervisors will be this diligent to details, nor have the resources they need available.

2. I personally am VERY against applying any sort of penalty per your description. The rules do NOT explicitly call for penalties of this nature (in fact it only says supervisors have the right to penalize up to 10%, which this technique could easily surpass). To the contrary, general rule #5 says the opposite: "Officials are encouraged to apply the least restrictive penalty for rules infractions (see examples in the Scoring Guidelines). Event supervisors must provide prompt notification of any penalty, disqualification or tier ranking." Simply taking away a device they attempted to bring in (and expected to be able to use) is penalty enough. I know I am not alone in this opinion when it comes to others involved at the National office level.

Re: Can't Judge a Powder B

Posted: March 2nd, 2015, 10:04 am
by MareezyWA
Your coach is a wise, wise person! (LOL) Seriously, allowing some teams to have caps or thermometers, while others don't really penalizes the teams that respect and follow the rules. At our regionals, I will be applying a 5 point penalty for every piece of equipment found in the kits that is not on the list... and you will still not be allowed to use it! This will get very costly if you bring in a bag of stoppers!.. In addition, review your safety PPE... Hair shoulder length or longer MUST be tied back AND KEPT BEHIND YOU at all times!... Lab coats and aprons are required to be at least to the knees. Teams that are not in compliance with all safety rules will not be allowed to compete until they are. Most chem aprons are sleeveless, so you must have a long sleeve shirt on under that. If you have a long sleeve shirt on, I can overlook a long sleeve lab coat, since it places a double layer requirement with lab coats and a single layer with aprons, but that's about the only safety issue I can work with.
Thank you once again. We will follow the rules to the letter. I have a brother that was in SO years ago and he warned me too to follow the rules EXACTLY and that penalties can be enforced for violations. That is comforting, actually because our school witnessed outright cheating in other events and if judges were briefed on all the ways that teams can cheat, they may not be caught off guard when someone shows up with something they are uncertain about... it is middle school and they want to see everyone get a chance to do their best... but some schools are so competitive that supervisors need to really take a hard line. I hope the supevisors at state read your remarks. Thank you!

Re: Can't Judge a Powder B

Posted: March 2nd, 2015, 6:32 pm
by Skink
Be careful here... This issue is not with the plastic tubes, but with the caps. The rules specifically do not say that any type of stoppers or caps are allowed, which means they are not, and should be treated as contraband.
I would discourage you from being so firm on this. One reason is that some plastic tubes are nigh useless without their caps due to their oblong nature. Google Image search 'plastic test tube' and take a look at the early hits, all common (as common as these are, anyway) items. It can be argued, then, that the cap is an implicit component of the test tube. What you've suggested is tantamount to confiscating the plastic container in which pH paper may be rolled. It's not explicitly permitted by the rules! However, you don't confiscate it because it's understood that 2.a.iii. permits it as part of the pH paper.
If you have caps for your tubes, while everyone else does not, you are exercising an unfair advantage over the other teams.
You can't get around this problem, note. 2.a.i. is written such that it disadvantages teams whom don't pack each and every one of those items. Here's another example: there are many shades of conductivity tester that you will see. Underneath the umbrella of 'the rules', there will be teams with better (commercially-produced) instruments than others that, yes, could and does give them a competitive advantage over others whom either spent less money or built their own. It's part of the game.
I'll be running CJAP at Regionals in a few weeks, and teams with unauthorized equipment will be penalized 5 points for each item I find in the kit that is not on the approved list, whether they have used it or not...
READ THE RULES CAREFULLY!
This depends on how many points your test contains, but remember that you can only penalize a maximum of 10% for all unauthorized items. Put another way, if you have an 100pt exam and a team gives you a Crime Busters box at check-in (which happens), even though you obtained a lot of junk in the process, that's, still, only -10pt, not minus five points times the number of microscope slides, cover slips, magnets, and whatever else they managed to sneak in there...

Anyway, hypothetically, know that if my team came to you with capped plastic test tubes and had their caps confiscated with a point penalty that you would be visited by the arbitrators shortly after the event. And, I would wager that you would be hard-pressed to defend pulling a 'Gotcha!' on thirteen year-olds over a gray area related to safety. This is not the same as if students had thermometers, voltmeters, pH meters, or (oh, brother) pencils in their box. Those items should be rightly confiscated. This is more akin to confiscating the case surrounding the pH paper.

Here, let's expand the discussion for the sake of case example. Have you read the FAQ posted recently? I submitted that one over a disagreement with my own team as to whether they should bring graduated cylinders or not. I argued that bringing them when others don't offers competitive advantage since they're a volume instrument (and hardly 'small containers for mixing'...), covered by 2.b.vii. Well, the National level hath spoken, and I was wrong. Graduated cylinders are permissible under 2.a.i. I admittedly don't like it, but it highlights the laxer nature of this and how, despite the beginning of section 2., all of this is framed by, I suppose, the first General Rule. And, I like to think that that's not just 'Science Olympiad policy' but, rather, student-centrism, which I would hope is our goal here!

Re: Can't Judge a Powder B

Posted: March 2nd, 2015, 9:19 pm
by boomvroomshroom
Your coach is a wise, wise person! (LOL) Seriously, allowing some teams to have caps or thermometers, while others don't really penalizes the teams that respect and follow the rules. At our regionals, I will be applying a 5 point penalty for every piece of equipment found in the kits that is not on the list... and you will still not be allowed to use it! This will get very costly if you bring in a bag of stoppers!.. In addition, review your safety PPE... Hair shoulder length or longer MUST be tied back AND KEPT BEHIND YOU at all times!... Lab coats and aprons are required to be at least to the knees. Teams that are not in compliance with all safety rules will not be allowed to compete until they are. Most chem aprons are sleeveless, so you must have a long sleeve shirt on under that. If you have a long sleeve shirt on, I can overlook a long sleeve lab coat, since it places a double layer requirement with lab coats and a single layer with aprons, but that's about the only safety issue I can work with.
To be honest, if you know what you're doing in this event, something as simple as not having caps or thermometers won't put you at a disadvantage against the teams that do. When I did this event, we didn't have many items on the list (simply because our school didn't have them) and many other schools had extra things (which the proctor didn't pay attention to). We still medaled above all of them.
Most of the points in this event come from your writing and practical application skills. I haven't seen the rules for this event for a few years, so perhaps they've made them more specific, but the items list were rather vague when I had them last. Meaning, there was some leeway between strict supervisors who think "if it's not specifically stated on the list you can't have it" and less strict supervisors who think "it's not explicitly on the list, but it's an obvious expectation." (I think simple cleaning supplies like paper towels were not included in either the "students expected to provide" and "supervisors expected to provide" list, but in the rules it also stated that students were expected to clean up after themselves and that they could be docked points for being messy.)

Re: Can't Judge a Powder B

Posted: March 3rd, 2015, 7:18 am
by dholdgreve
Wow... A veritable hornet's nest it appears I've stirred! My point is that if the National event coordinators are going to be so concerned as to dictate hair style, dress code, and the voltage of the conductivity testers that can be used, I must assume that they have been equally mindful of what equipment should be allowed to conduct these tests. Allowing one team to bring in a thermometer, while other teams that followed the rules have none, allows that team to quantify any exothermic reactions, while every other team must approximate. Quantification of observations is totally what this event is about and gives that team a HUGE advantage for breaking the rules. In the case of caps or stoppers... the rules specify test tube brushes and racks but do not mention stoppers. I must assume this is due to possible safety concerns. Who hasn't seen the end of a test tube blow out due to an out gassing? I would not want to be at the station next to the guy that just mixed his baking soda with HCl and popped his cap on to see what happened, would you?

Rules are rules. It may seem very trivial that I'm hard on the the teams that bring extra equipment, but I have enough faith in the rule writers to believe these were not oversights, but specifically excluded as safety precautions. I take my task seriously. These young scientists have worked very hard all year and deserve a test that provides an equal playing field for all, based on the rules they way they are written, not as modified by one that thinks they know better. I sincerely hope I do not find one piece of unauthorized equipment. I hope everyone has on close toed shoes, long pants, lab coats to their knees, and hair tied back... It would make for a much more fair competition, and place the focus where it should be... To that end, I asked the tournament director to forward specific comments regarding the events that I' m proctoring to the team coaches to pre-empt the short lab coats and direct vent goggles. I've also printed a summary of these notes which I will be taped to outside of the classroom door the morning of the competition. My goal is not to DQ or penalize any team, but no team will be allowed to act in an unsafe manner endangering them or anyone near them, nor will they be allowed to gain an unfair advantage by bringing equipment specifically not called out. I'm not being unreasonable... Obviously pH paper does no good without a color key, and must be kept dry or be ruined, so the container becomes a necessity as well.

Re: Can't Judge a Powder B

Posted: March 3rd, 2015, 10:21 am
by dholdgreve
.
2. I personally am VERY against applying any sort of penalty per your description. The rules do NOT explicitly call for penalties of this nature (in fact it only says supervisors have the right to penalize up to 10%, which this technique could easily surpass). To the contrary, general rule #5 says the opposite: "Officials are encouraged to apply the least restrictive penalty for rules infractions (see examples in the Scoring Guidelines). Event supervisors must provide prompt notification of any penalty, disqualification or tier ranking." Simply taking away a device they attempted to bring in (and expected to be able to use) is penalty enough. I know I am not alone in this opinion when it comes to others involved at the National office level.
I'm a little confused on how taking away an item they are not supposed to have in the first place, and not allowing them to use the item that no other team in the room has... is any type of penalty at all... Without any threat of penalty, there is no reason to follow any of the rules.... Bring anything you want! The worst thing that can happen is that they don't let you use it! This is not only unfair, but dangerous. As you know, many of these rules are written for the safety of the kids, even if they don't specifically state the intent of the rule.

Re: Can't Judge a Powder B

Posted: March 3rd, 2015, 11:16 am
by Skink
Allowing one team to bring in a thermometer, while other teams that followed the rules have none, allows that team to quantify any exothermic reactions, while every other team must approximate. Quantification of observations is totally what this event is about and gives that team a HUGE advantage for breaking the rules Nobody has suggested that bringing thermometers is acceptable. The rules are not ambiguous about this, as they're instruments to be provided by the supervisor. However, please don't overlook my comment regarding the graduated cylinders. Not every team will pack those, but those that do have an inherent advantage over those whom only can quantify volumes by, say, 'scoops' versus milliliters. If you view scoops and milliliters as the same quality of answer, then there's no problem. If you don't, then you see the dilemma.. In the case of caps or stoppers... the rules specify test tube brushes and racks but do not mention stoppers The critical difference, which I attempted to allude to above, is that racks and brushes are not typically a component of the tube itself but sold separately. If you go purchase plastic test tubes, the cap often comes with.. I must assume this is due to possible safety concerns. Who hasn't seen the end of a test tube blow out due to an out gassing? I would not want to be at the station next to the guy that just mixed his baking soda with HCl and popped his cap on to see what happened, would you? This has merit, but I would not be comfortable assuming that this possibility means that caps and/or stoppers are unacceptable. Unfortunately, as noted earlier, I have exercised my single FAQ submission for this event this season, so I cannot inquire further about this, myself!
I'm a little confused on how taking away an item they are not supposed to have in the first place, and not allowing them to use the item that no other team in the room has... is any type of penalty at all... I believe he was speaking about the event supervisor's option to deduct points in conjunction with item confiscation. The confiscation is mandatory. The associated point deduction is discretionary.
I had one more tangentially related thought to all of that, but I'm not sure where it fits into the quotation blocks. So, I'm pulling it out here. Practically, bringing junk doesn't usually offer competitive advantage, by the way. Hypothetically, you, the event supervisor, don't provide thermometers. A team brings a thermometer, and you don't follow protocol and leave it in their box. Maybe you missed it; maybe a volunteer checked the participant in instead of you and didn't know better. What does the team actually gain from having that thermometer? Because you didn't provide thermometers, you aren't asking questions about heats of reaction on the test; therefore, their packed thermometer is useless!