I believe Nationals is consistently 60 teams in each Division, although the numbers from each state can change... It is my understanding that all 50 States now have active Science Olympiad teams, and the 10 states with the most teams registered are invited to send a second team. No States have ever been invited to send more than 2, that I've ever heard (Allen?). To host more than that, would be a real challenge... this past weekend, we had 40 teams represented at Ohio State, in each division. This broke down to 3 periods for each event (except Disease Detectives). Especially for events that are run in stations, like Crave the Wave, where a station is required for each team in the time slot, this amounted to 14 stations. When divided into the elongated 60 minute time slots, it worked out to 4 minutes per station. Even with 60 teams, this would increase the number of stations to 20, or the number of periods to 4. If stations are increased to 20, they now have only 3 minutes per station... Hardly worth sitting down for.
Personally, I'd prefer to see State competitions divided Sectional and State Championships. Then on to Nationally divided Regional Championships, with 3% of the number of State teams advancing to a Nationally Sanctioned Regional Competition (Similar to the NCAA tournament, or Little League World Series). A state like Ohio, with approximately 140 teams, might send 4 or 5 teams to "Regionals." Each Regional would be limited to a max of 40 teams, but you may have as many Regions as needed... Great Lakes Region, New England, Southeast, etc. The 3 or 4 top teams from each region then compete in the granddaddy of them all... Nationals! In this way, the top teams advance, not the top teams from each state, as it is currently, so States that are not as strong, would likely not advance past the Regional level, while other States may advance 3 or even 4 teams to the national level.
There are States out there with fewer than 10 teams per division that are offered a seat at the National table year after year, only to be embarrassed by the level of competition seen there, while teams like Tower Heights and Mentor can only watch. If the Science Olympiad program is to continue to grow, accommodations must be made for teams like these. The answer cannot be to send more teams to Nationals; there are already too many there. The answer cannot be to "steal" the cede of lesser state, because another team is judged to be more worthy, or why would they compete at all? The only answer is to add another level of competition between State and Nationals, so that any teams like I mentioned have a reasonable chance to advance... Yes, this would be a monumental undertaking, but if the NCAA and LLWS can do it, with all the brain power that exists in our group, I think we could figure it out!
This would be challenging, but not impossible. I think that this is a very good solution to a very important problem It's a good way to ensure that the teams who advance to nationals are actually qualified, and those who are qualified to compete at nationals will actually get a chance to