Test Set Exchange Update

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Re: Test Set Exchange Update

Postby nicholasmaurer » February 21st, 2019, 3:01 pm

And also to any potential team that could theoretically go as well.
I'm afraid I don't follow your logic. We welcome any team who wishes to register for our invitational. We often waive fees, and offer guidance/assistance, to new teams who wish to attend our invitational. But invitational tournament directors don't sign up to help every team in the country simply by hosting a tournament - they agree to host the teams who register and provide a fair, fun tournament to those teams. I firmly believe we have done so for the past 25 years of hosting a tournament.

Yes, small/new teams need access to test sets. Invitationals are the best way in my opinion, but admittedly have barriers to entry. However, there are numerous opportunities here on Scioly and elsewhere to acquire test sets. As an alumnus, I'm happy to advise new teams on how to successfully find them. If I write a test for an alumni-run tournament, my preference is that it is released publicly. I didn't supervise at MIT to benefit MIT - I did it to benefit Science Olympiad.

But I do coach Solon HS to benefit Solon HS, and I direct our invitational to benefit our team and the other participating teams. Releasing our invitational tests publicly doesn't serve those goals.
Assistant Coach and Alumnus ('14) - Solon High School Science Olympiad
Tournament Director - Northeast Ohio Regional Tournament
Tournament Director - Solon High School Science Olympiad Invitational

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Re: Test Set Exchange Update

Postby lumosityfan » February 21st, 2019, 3:20 pm

While I totally get why you would think that releasing test sets from the Solon Invitational wouldn't serve your purpose of running a good tournament for the teams that attend, at the same time that's assuming that your role as the Solon HS tournament director is in a vacuum. It's not, however, and so we should do whatever we can to help those teams that cannot make it for whatever reason because they technically had that opportunity as well. Also the Solon HS tournament also ostensibly exists for the other teams as well since as I mentioned earlier they had that opportunity and for whatever reason or another couldn't make it.
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2016-19 UCC Regs Astronomy ES, 2018 NJ States Astronomy ES, 2017 Princeton Helicopters ES, 2018 Princeton WGYN ES

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Re: Test Set Exchange Update

Postby lumosityfan » February 21st, 2019, 3:21 pm

(For the record, I'm happy that you're willing to assist new teams; I'm not bashing that part and think that we should do more in that regard to ease their transition. Releasing tests simply happens to be one of those methods and we should not feel that just because your tournament is for the registered teams doesn't mean you can't feel an obligation to provide a greater service to the national Science Olympiad community.)
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Re: Test Set Exchange Update

Postby AlbatrossTree » February 21st, 2019, 3:25 pm

And also to any potential team that could theoretically go as well.
I'm afraid I don't follow your logic. We welcome any team who wishes to register for our invitational. We often waive fees, and offer guidance/assistance, to new teams who wish to attend our invitational. But invitational tournament directors don't sign up to help every team in the country simply by hosting a tournament - they agree to host the teams who register and provide a fair, fun tournament to those teams. I firmly believe we have done so for the past 25 years of hosting a tournament.

Yes, small/new teams need access to test sets. Invitationals are the best way in my opinion, but admittedly have barriers to entry. However, there are numerous opportunities here on Scioly and elsewhere to acquire test sets. As an alumnus, I'm happy to advise new teams on how to successfully find them. If I write a test for an alumni-run tournament, my preference is that it is released publicly. I didn't supervise at MIT to benefit MIT - I did it to benefit Science Olympiad.

But I do coach Solon HS to benefit Solon HS, and I direct our invitational to benefit our team and the other participating teams. Releasing our invitational tests publicly doesn't serve those goals.
I'm also missing why an invitational tournament is obligated to share with every team who could potentially come. It's nice and in a perfect world every team would have access to equal resources (tests, money, invitationals, build materials and equipment, etc.), and performance would simply be a measure of talent and hardwork. This, however, is not the case. It would be quixotic to expect that all tests be available to all teams. Imagine if your team is not from an affluent region and the students and coaches worked hard to find sponsors and advocate for money, resources, etc. in order to go to invitationals and all another team has to do is look for a test online and they are just as well off for the effort it took to type into their search bar? While I agree it is not fair that there are barriers to entry for invitationals and tests, I believe it would be unfair to those teams actively paying and working in order to attend competitions. There are also a plethora of resources online that new teams can use without taking tests from schools who paid for them.

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Re: Test Set Exchange Update

Postby lumosityfan » February 21st, 2019, 3:34 pm

And also to any potential team that could theoretically go as well.
I'm afraid I don't follow your logic. We welcome any team who wishes to register for our invitational. We often waive fees, and offer guidance/assistance, to new teams who wish to attend our invitational. But invitational tournament directors don't sign up to help every team in the country simply by hosting a tournament - they agree to host the teams who register and provide a fair, fun tournament to those teams. I firmly believe we have done so for the past 25 years of hosting a tournament.

Yes, small/new teams need access to test sets. Invitationals are the best way in my opinion, but admittedly have barriers to entry. However, there are numerous opportunities here on Scioly and elsewhere to acquire test sets. As an alumnus, I'm happy to advise new teams on how to successfully find them. If I write a test for an alumni-run tournament, my preference is that it is released publicly. I didn't supervise at MIT to benefit MIT - I did it to benefit Science Olympiad.

But I do coach Solon HS to benefit Solon HS, and I direct our invitational to benefit our team and the other participating teams. Releasing our invitational tests publicly doesn't serve those goals.
I'm also missing why an invitational tournament is obligated to share with every team who could potentially come. It's nice and in a perfect world every team would have access to equal resources (tests, money, invitationals, build materials and equipment, etc.), and performance would simply be a measure of talent and hardwork. This, however, is not the case. It would be quixotic to expect that all tests be available to all teams. Imagine if your team is not from an affluent region and the students and coaches worked hard to find sponsors and advocate for money, resources, etc. in order to go to invitationals and all another team has to do is look for a test online and they are just as well off for the effort it took to type into their search bar? While I agree it is not fair that there are barriers to entry for invitationals and tests, I believe it would be unfair to those teams actively paying and working in order to attend competitions. There are also a plethora of resources online that new teams can use without taking tests from schools who paid for them.
As I mentioned earlier, teams don't go to invitationals for the tests. They go there for the experience. The tests simply happen to be a good practice platform that the teams can use for further analysis and reference. Also just because it's unrealistic for every tournament to release tests doesn't mean that we can't do our part. It will hopefully start a precedent that will eventually reach us to that point. And those teams that couldn't attend tournaments would love to pay for those teams. However, they simply can't because they're so new that they realistically can't reach that point in which they can go to invies constantly until maybe Year 3 or 4. Until then those tests will give them a nice starting point so that they don't go into regionals and states totally unprepared.
John P. Stevens Class of 2015 (Go Hawks!)
Columbia University Class of 2019 (Go Lions!)
2016-19 UCC Regs Astronomy ES, 2018 NJ States Astronomy ES, 2017 Princeton Helicopters ES, 2018 Princeton WGYN ES

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Re: Test Set Exchange Update

Postby ScottMaurer19 » February 21st, 2019, 3:43 pm

Shortened for convenience
As I mentioned earlier, teams don't go to invitationals for the tests. They go there for the experience. The tests simply happen to be a good practice platform that the teams can use for further analysis and reference. Also just because it's unrealistic for every tournament to release tests doesn't mean that we can't do our part. It will hopefully start a precedent that will eventually reach us to that point. And those teams that couldn't attend tournaments would love to pay for those teams. However, they simply can't because they're so new that they realistically can't reach that point in which they can go to invies constantly until maybe Year 3 or 4. Until then those tests will give them a nice starting point so that they don't go into regionals and states totally unprepared.
I know I'm biased, but I'm with Nick. Releasing tests has positive consequences for new teams, but also realize SO is a competition. Yes it's about learning, exploring, and building connections within science. That's great and SO has given me lots of opportunities and knowledge that I wouldn't have had without it. That being said I'm not only here to play nice with other teams and help them. As Nick said Solon fully supports new teams wishing to attend our invitational, but you must also think about experienced teams. You are neglecting their perspective and assume that the only effect of releasing all tests would be for new teams to gain resources whereas in reality experienced teams are losing an edge on competition against their primary competitors as well (ignoring the new teams as competition in the short run). How would people feel if Troy stopped attending invitationals and just asked teams for tests from their invitationals? I guarentee you there would be few teams willing to just hand them tests.

I know this sounds cut throat and maybe even a bit mean, but this is the reality of the program.
Solon '19 Captain, CWRU '23
2017 (r/s/n):
Hydro: 3/5/18
Robot Arm: na/1/1
Rocks: 1/1/1

2018 (r/s/n):
Heli: 2/1/7 
Herp: 1/4/4
Mission: 1/1/6
Rocks: 1/1/1
Eco: 6/3/9

2019 (r/s/n):
Fossils: 1/1/1
GLM: 1/1/1
Herp: 1/1/5
Mission: 1/1/3
WS: 4/1/10

Top 3 Medals: 144
Golds: 80

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Re: Test Set Exchange Update

Postby lumosityfan » February 21st, 2019, 3:45 pm

As I mentioned earlier, teams don't go to invitationals for the tests. They go there for the experience. The tests simply happen to be a good practice platform that the teams can use for further analysis and reference. Also just because it's unrealistic for every tournament to release tests doesn't mean that we can't do our part. It will hopefully start a precedent that will eventually reach us to that point. And those teams that couldn't attend tournaments would love to pay for those teams. However, they simply can't because they're so new that they realistically can't reach that point in which they can go to invies constantly until maybe Year 3 or 4. Until then those tests will give them a nice starting point so that they don't go into regionals and states totally unprepared.
I know I'm biased, but I'm with Nick. Releasing tests has positive consequences for new teams, but also realize SO is a competition. Yes it's about learning, exploring, and building connections within science. That's great and SO has given me lots of opportunities and knowledge that I wouldn't have had without it. That being said I'm not only here to play nice with other teams and help them. As Nick said Solon fully supports new teams wishing to attend our invitational, but you must also think about experienced teams. You are neglecting their perspective and assume that the only effect of releasing all tests would be for new teams to gain resources whereas in reality experienced teams are losing an edge on competition against their primary competitors as well (ignoring the new teams as competition in the short run). How would people feel if Troy stopped attending invitationals and just asked teams for tests from their invitationals? I guarentee you there would be few teams willing to just hand them tests.

I know this sounds cut throat and maybe even a bit mean, but this is the reality of the program.
I totally agree that's what the reality is but that doesn't have to be that way. I totally get that teams wouldn't be willing to just hand out tests (which is totally understandable; as a competitor I probably wouldn't either).
John P. Stevens Class of 2015 (Go Hawks!)
Columbia University Class of 2019 (Go Lions!)
2016-19 UCC Regs Astronomy ES, 2018 NJ States Astronomy ES, 2017 Princeton Helicopters ES, 2018 Princeton WGYN ES

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Re: Test Set Exchange Update

Postby ScottMaurer19 » February 21st, 2019, 3:48 pm

As I mentioned earlier, teams don't go to invitationals for the tests. They go there for the experience. The tests simply happen to be a good practice platform that the teams can use for further analysis and reference. Also just because it's unrealistic for every tournament to release tests doesn't mean that we can't do our part. It will hopefully start a precedent that will eventually reach us to that point. And those teams that couldn't attend tournaments would love to pay for those teams. However, they simply can't because they're so new that they realistically can't reach that point in which they can go to invies constantly until maybe Year 3 or 4. Until then those tests will give them a nice starting point so that they don't go into regionals and states totally unprepared.
I know I'm biased, but I'm with Nick. Releasing tests has positive consequences for new teams, but also realize SO is a competition. Yes it's about learning, exploring, and building connections within science. That's great and SO has given me lots of opportunities and knowledge that I wouldn't have had without it. That being said I'm not only here to play nice with other teams and help them. As Nick said Solon fully supports new teams wishing to attend our invitational, but you must also think about experienced teams. You are neglecting their perspective and assume that the only effect of releasing all tests would be for new teams to gain resources whereas in reality experienced teams are losing an edge on competition against their primary competitors as well (ignoring the new teams as competition in the short run). How would people feel if Troy stopped attending invitationals and just asked teams for tests from their invitationals? I guarentee you there would be few teams willing to just hand them tests.

I know this sounds cut throat and maybe even a bit mean, but this is the reality of the program.
I totally agree that's what the reality is but that doesn't have to be that way. I totally get that teams wouldn't be willing to just hand out tests (which is totally understandable; as a competitor I probably wouldn't either).
If you wouldn't give them out either I'm sorry but I fail to see why anyone else should...
Solon '19 Captain, CWRU '23
2017 (r/s/n):
Hydro: 3/5/18
Robot Arm: na/1/1
Rocks: 1/1/1

2018 (r/s/n):
Heli: 2/1/7 
Herp: 1/4/4
Mission: 1/1/6
Rocks: 1/1/1
Eco: 6/3/9

2019 (r/s/n):
Fossils: 1/1/1
GLM: 1/1/1
Herp: 1/1/5
Mission: 1/1/3
WS: 4/1/10

Top 3 Medals: 144
Golds: 80

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Re: Test Set Exchange Update

Postby KC1FVS » February 21st, 2019, 6:02 pm


Because it is a competition, there is often an inherent tension between doing what is best for the program and doing what is best for your team. As an alumnus and regional tournament director, my goal is to benefit Science Olympiad - hence why I publicly and privately urged MIT to switch their test release policy last year, when I was a supervisor. As a coach and invitational tournament director, having tests from our invitational posted publicly has no upside. Indeed, if anything, doing so imposes potential costs on my team and tournament, especially if the tests strengthen the practice of our competitors.

I know that new/small teams face many barriers before attending invitational tournaments, especially in states which (unlike Ohio) do not have invitationals throughout the state on many dates. We do what we can to assist these teams, as I hope other established teams do across the nation. But I would argue that releasing tests publicly is more likely to benefit other established teams (who go looking for practice material) than it is a new team. It's the Solon-like teams who go collecting for as many test sets as we can find...
And those established teams will always go test-hunting. (Look at the pattern that's happening now!) While the new teams will go to regionals, realize what has hit them, and more likely than not be demoralized. While if we give these practice tests they will at least have some idea of what's going on so that they don't go in totally blind. (Now they may still decide to drop out but that's their own volition; we can do our best as you've mentioned to ease their transition.) In addition, your reasoning for not wanting tests to published online should really not be "strengthen the practice of our competitors" or "benefit other established teams". That immediately questions the whole notion of a tournament director being unbiased towards a team. Tournament directors should aim to show as little bias as possible and thus our reasoning for not publishing test sets should really not be because publishing test sets will help the established teams more. (Which is arguable at best; those established will (and have) find ways to find test sets. The new teams can't.)
As an invitational tournament director, my job is to be unbiased to the teams competing at the tournament. All of them do receive the test sets. I don't have an obligation to bestow that benefit on the teams who don't attend...
I think that for those of us who act as both a tournament director and a coach, then our obligation to be impartial should in fact inform the rationale of our test release policies. When deciding who should get our tests after the tournament, we are still acting as directors, not as coaches. Otherwise, coaches who host or run invitationals are using the privilege of that opportunity to wield the advantage of proprietary information for one or more teams. If the decision to withhold invitational tests from public release is founded in our desire to disadvantage non-attending teams, then I think we have mixed up our coaching hat with our directing hat. If it is founded in the interest our tournament, then fine, but that is getting to be a hard case to defend.

Ask yourself: If I were a tournament director only, and not a coach, would there be any reason to withhold test access? The only reason would be to incentivize registration and attendance. This dubious idea is now being further undermined by extensive test exchange sharing networks. Getting the tests without attending is arguably easier than attending. Consider the response I just received from the student whose email initiated my post. When I expressed my hesitation to share the data from our invitational, they stated,

"...nothing can stop me from going to the other schools that attended your invitational and offer them the same deal and I am sure someone will accept it...”

The idea that we are in possession of a valuable commodity may indeed be false, and our attempts to limit access are likely to be undermined. Our tournament has so far been withholding tests in order to incentivize tournament registration, but I am starting to believe that this practice is misguided, and will move to remove the password protection on our tests and keys. I am curious to know other people's views on this thread.

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Re: Test Set Exchange Update

Postby nicholasmaurer » February 21st, 2019, 6:45 pm

I think that for those of us who act as both a tournament director and a coach, then our obligation to be impartial should in fact inform the rationale of our test release policies. When deciding who should get our tests after the tournament, we are still acting as directors, not as coaches. Otherwise, coaches who host or run invitationals are using the privilege of that opportunity to wield the advantage of proprietary information for one or more teams. If the decision to withhold invitational tests from public release is founded in our desire to disadvantage non-attending teams, then I think we have mixed up our coaching hat with our directing hat. If it is founded in the interest our tournament, then fine, but that is getting to be a hard case to defend.
The obligation of an invitational tournament director is to be impartial among the teams at their tournament and advantage attending teams relative to the teams who are not. As this is a competition, advantaging teams who do attend necessarily disadvantages those who do not. The value created by a tournament and its director are not meant to be equally and impartially distributed between teams who attend and teams who do not. Indeed, any value is meant to be preferentially distributed to participating teams; that is why teams pay to attend, make the effort to travel, contribute tests/volunteers, etc.

Yes, teams looking to trade can and do circumvent you by trading with other schools. Presumably, those other schools attended your tournament and are now trading your tests for other tests. Thus, your tournament is providing an attending team with continued value. Publicly releasing your tests devalues them for your attendees, as they would now be unable to trade them.
Assistant Coach and Alumnus ('14) - Solon High School Science Olympiad
Tournament Director - Northeast Ohio Regional Tournament
Tournament Director - Solon High School Science Olympiad Invitational

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