Nationals Event Discussion

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Nationals Event Discussion

Postby Unome » May 19th, 2018, 10:38 pm

Changed the name from past years to be inclusive of builds. Y'all know how it goes by now.
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Re: Nationals Event Discussion

Postby allopathie » May 19th, 2018, 10:47 pm

Microbes (3): 9/10. This was a much better test than last year and pretty much covered all the topics in the rules. I appreciated the fact that most of the questions had you go beyond regurgitating something from a cheat sheet. There could have been less microscope stuff (the smaller microscopes were somewhat difficult to use and the image provided for the large microscope was missing the amount of magnification) and more short answer questions. The catalase test could have likewise been replaced with something more interesting to interpret (e.g. sulfur indole motility that had already been incubated). My partner also complained that it was difficult to distinguish between the red and the fuchsia for Mannitol on the image provided. The research article and graph on quorum sensing, while interesting, were also not particularly difficult to understand (as in they could have been part of an AP Bio passage).

Ecology (16): 1/10. Ecology lady listened to feedback and made the test EASIER than last year. The stations were far too short, and for many of the questions she provided you the answer in some form or another. One of the stations had you read an article and answer questions for which the answers were from the reading, another station was basically just giving the definition for alpha/beta/gamma diversity (not even calculating it), and two stations had simple graph interpretation. Some of the questions had arbitrary answers--for the "boom/bust" one we were debating between answering K-selected (given the context of the station) and predatory/prey. My guess is that Pembroke (not to denigrate them or anything) figured out the textbook she uses and thus is able to do well, but the test itself probably just depended on (1) the 3 desert climographs, which is impossible to do in 3.5 minutes if you want to include numbers and bars for precipitation, and (2) the conventional/sustainable agriculture questions, the amount of detail for which she failed to specify and the answers to which you could probably guess correctly.

Dynamic (12): 6/10. I don't think Enrica Quartini helped write the test because the format seemed different. I was very disappointed not to see any gravity or magnetism given how essential they are to any geophysics course, and also did not appreciate the two dump everything you know questions that each contributed to 20%. I think the epitome of the ES trying to be "creative" was having a question on the Arctic explorer who used bathymetry, the correct answer to which I still have not managed to find.

Experimental Design (10): 7/10. The grading seems more "fair" than in previous years given that top teams in general did not tank. I feel that it was a better lab than the one last year and the MIT lab this year, but worse than the MIT lab last year (the laser and mirrors lab). I appreciate that the supervisors paid attention to whether teams actually performed an experiment with sufficient trials.

Ecology was by far my favorite event and I am (like Varun) very disappointed to be ending my Science Olympiad career this way.
Last edited by allopathie on May 21st, 2018, 10:18 pm, edited 7 times in total.
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Re: Nationals Event Discussion

Postby jimmy-bond » May 20th, 2018, 8:18 am

Fast Facts (1): 7/10. The event supervisors were very kind and enthusiastic. There was also a good mix of easy and challenging categories. However, there was one category that was a real pain: “Superheroes or villains that defy physics”. I’ve seen cancer categories before, but that just took the cake. Also, the event room was a lecture hall and it made it hard to write on the paper if it wasn’t on your desk.

Potions and Poisons (6): 9/10. One of the best potions tests I’ve seen thus far. It had very difficult questions and was a great test, with a few cancer questions. The lab required a dilution factor of 2890, which took a while, but it was a good lab.

Dynamic Planet (11): 6/10. I enjoyed the biology portion of the test, but the tectonic stuff was lacking in most of the components in regular dynamic tests. Was still a decent test, with candy at the end to compensate for the torture (the supervisor’s words, not mine).

Microbe Mission (14): 9/10. Once again, the event supervisor was very good. The format was similar to last year and one that I enjoyed. But, the fact that most of the answers for the questions were in the article that was provided kind of took away the need for studying.

Crime Busters (26): 10/10. The test was well balanced. Two mixtures, quite a lot of powder, plastics, etc ID, and a good amount of multiple point questions made the test the perfect mix. The fact that they provided candles to do the fiber burn tests won my vote.
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Re: Nationals Event Discussion

Postby Unome » May 20th, 2018, 9:24 am

Anatomy and Physiology (28th) - Middling test, as tends to happen with most Bio events. Questions were decent, and the case study was interesting, although it was very short and sort of shafted several topics. Station rotation wasn't that well thought out. 6/10

Astronomy (11th) - Same as usual. Somewhat harder than last year, which was good (though not for us). That Balmer lines question was interesting. 9/10

Fermi Questions (6th) - Solid test, which was nice to see. Could have been a little longer though. 9/10

Herpetology (27th) - Well-designed station rotation, but definitely should have been at least 2-3 times as long and significantly harder. There were very few questions that we didn't know - I'm sure we dropped because of a missed ID in a few places. Fits with the general trend of most of the Bio events (besides Disease and Microbes) being poorly-run. 5/10

Materials Science (20th) - Top tier as expected. Focused more on individual polymers than I would have expected, but the questions tied in to general concepts really well. From what little I saw of the lab it looked pretty good. Length was also sufficient, although I could potentially see it being short for teams that knew all of the information. 10/10

Remote Sensing (14th) - Exceptional test, as expected. Good coverage of topics and interesting, well-written questions. 10/10

However much I gripe about some MIT tests being unnecessarily difficult and unapproachable, MIT test quality is consistently better than Nationals.

Opening and Awards Ceremonies were very good, at least second-best of the four Nationals that I've attended. I would even make the bold claim that awards this year was better than 2016. The main things missing from this year's Nationals was the sort of exceptional branding and marketing from 2016.

Edit: wow I must have been really tired to say that Herpetology had decent questions...
Last edited by bernard on May 20th, 2018, 9:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Nationals Event Discussion

Postby Galahad » May 20th, 2018, 9:42 am

Density 6/10 (6) - I found density to be rather easy comparing to the potential of the event. You literally could’ve walked in with the density formula and ideal gas law and done fine. It could’ve been way better. It was mainly just finding densities and counting. In short, easy and could’ve been way better

Potions and Poisons 10/10 (6) - Hands down one of the best labs and tests I’ve ever taken. The test was long and challenging (although my partner was able to almost take the entire thing Solo [Jimmy Bond]) and had rather advanced concepts. Usually all I see is the definition of words or identifying species, but this test took that farther and went above and beyond. The lab was REALLY tedious though. You needed to end up with around 10 mL of a 1:2890 blue dye solution. It took me almost the entire time to get it just right (had an almost perfect absorption factor). But, I abslolutely loved it as it was challenging. It wasn’t just a chromatography or pH lab like there normally is. In short, challenging, different, and fun.

Meteorology 7/10 (13) - Meteorology usually is really challenging and long, but this test was relatively easy and only was hard due to the 36 figures they gave. In the beginning, there was a mini lab which they only gave 4 questions for. They should’ve gave more or made it harder. What I did like was the advancement of analysis and topic. Usually we see the same things over and over again, but this time we got to APPLY those things with figures. In short, intricate, could’ve been harder, needs a better lab.

Disease Detectives 6.5/10 (25) - Disease was formatted almost exactly Iike last year’s test (which was actually really good) except there was a lack of scenario. It didn’t give you that epidemiology experience like how Wright states one did. It was also off topic, given that this year’s topic is foodborne diseases and not plagues..... there was only one or two questions on foodborne (which wasn’t really a problem for us), and didn’t focus on the actual field. In short, easy and off topic.

Crime Busters 10/10 (26) okay I see the irony, we did bad but I think it was good. Well it really was. To be continued...
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Re: Nationals Event Discussion

Postby bernard » May 20th, 2018, 9:49 am

It helps if you bold event names and space out your entries.
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Re: Nationals Event Discussion

Postby superpenguin666 » May 20th, 2018, 10:49 am

Does anybody know top C divison Optics laser shoot scores? I'm pretty curious about that :D.
And if somebody could give the testing conditions for thermodynamics, I would appreciate it.
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Re: Nationals Event Discussion

Postby terence.tan » May 20th, 2018, 11:27 am

anyone knows what the tower scores were?
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Re: Nationals Event Discussion

Postby hippo9 » May 20th, 2018, 11:58 am

terence.tan wrote:anyone knows what the tower scores were?

I don't know the details, but John Richardsim posted the winning score/stats on the towers forum
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Re: Nationals Event Discussion

Postby antoine_ego » May 20th, 2018, 1:07 pm

Astronomy - 9th: Overall, a very good quality test, though perhaps a bit on the easier side. I particularly liked the emphasis on concepts in sections B and C. I was surprised to see questions that dealt with binary system mechanics in a more theoretical way than usual. The DSOs were good, though I felt a few were ambiguous. On the supervisor side, all were nice and helpful, and I finally met syo_astro and AlphaTauri which was really cool! Rating, 9/10.

Hovercraft - 6th: Impound was a bit of a mess, with both divisions having to impound in the same room, so you'd be in for a 40 minute wait.The tracks were the same as MIT which was okay for us, but I know that some teams had difficultly with the surfaces and ran into the walls. The test was a bit on the easy side, but it was definitely difficult enough to differentiate between the teams. Rating: 8/10.

Mousetrap Vehicle - 6th: Pretty much perfectly run. The ESs were helpful and understanding, possibly due to the fact that some were former competitors. The floor was excellent and very grippy. Rating 10/10.

Write It Do It - 21st: Pretty decently run, though I was surprised when they announced that colors didn't matter. This added an added wrinkle into the writing which made things a bit more difficult for me as the writer. I suppose that the model could've been more complicated, since it was simpler than past models. Rating: 7.5/10.

Edit: One of my favorite things was just meeting people, from competitors to volunteers. Everyone was really kind and sportsmanlike, and it was great to see so many of the people I've admired and competed against in one place, and to find that they're even better than you thought. The tournament staff were phenomenal. When I was worried about my Hovercraft arriving on time, since it hadn't been delivered to the ballroom yet, they were very helpful and efficient in finding the box and bringing it. In terms of people, 11/10.
Last edited by antoine_ego on May 23rd, 2018, 4:46 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Nationals Event Discussion

Postby ptabraham_nerd01 » May 20th, 2018, 1:17 pm

Anatomy and Physiology (33th): 5/10 The overall test was relatively limited. I felt that the diseases got a huge emphasis, which is fine, but there were plenty of concepts from the rules that were left out. The nature of the matching stations allowed the process of elimination to be rather effective, which made those stations really easy. The matching stations had good content, but you didn't really need to understand the content to be able to get questions correct. I liked the question regarding the uptake of amino acids.

Disease Detectives (37th): 10/10 The test was good. This time around I did most of the math, which was probably the reason for our placement. Math is hard.

Remote Sensing (44th): 10/10 Great test. Physics is hard.
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Re: Nationals Event Discussion

Postby heterodon » May 20th, 2018, 5:39 pm

Herpetology (2): 1/10. The Nationals Herpetology test was very disappointing. The proctor was insistent upon how “challenging” his test was, when in fact it was exceedingly too simple for a Science Olympiad Nationals test. The test was made up of 34 stations, each of which only had TWO questions: One was identification, and the other was either a multiple choice question or a fill in the blank (only 2 stations were different: a rest station and one with two trivia questions). The multiple choice and fill in the blank questions were very baseline and simple (“what is the diet of this specimen?” “what does the animal do when in a cool environment?”). These questions are very basic, and each answer easily found even on the specimen’s Wikipedia page. Frankly, someone could have printed out the Wikipedia page for each specimen on the list and could have performed well. Additionally, some of the questions that were multiple choice in fact had multiple correct answers (ex: asking what the habitat of soft shell turtles are, two of the possible answers being “brackish environment” and “freshwater”, when in fact the Chinese soft shell turtle can live in brackish waters and most others live in freshwater). Limiting the answers to multiple choice when the answers are complex and nuanced limited our ability to prove our knowledge and research, and, in fact misrepresented many of the samples. Many teams could have lost points on these sorts of questions (as there were many examples of this on the test, most of them relating to habitats). However, the most egregious part of this test was how the proctor mistakenly provided the answers to the identification portion. He cited the images he provided, many of the being urls which had the NAME of the specimen inside of it. He did a very poor job of sharpie-ing out the specimen’s name and thus provided the answer. This test was too simple for this level of competition, and was evidently poorly run. A Herpetology test like MIT, which had in-depth biological, ecological content that required intensive research and knowledge would have been much more appropriate for Nationals. On the Nationals test, we weren’t asked to identify sounds, know about evolutionary history, specific anatomy of reptiles and amphibians (barring 1 question), or provide detailed information on every specimen. Months and months are slaved into researching and learning this event, and all of this felt wasted after taking this test.

Rocks and Minerals (9): 8/10. This event was run very efficiently and had great samples. However, the questions were on the easy side and were strikingly similar to last year's test.

Experimental Design (10). 7/10. Plenty of materials, allowed for interpretation and creativity with the given topic. Seemed better than years before.
Last edited by heterodon on May 20th, 2018, 7:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Nationals Event Discussion

Postby ner0dia » May 20th, 2018, 6:47 pm

Astronomy (3rd): 9/10. Overall, a well-written test with a good level of complexity (as per usual). DSOs were pretty doable with maybe a few difficult questions and images, and General Knowledge and Physics had some interesting questions. I guess I expected it to be a little bit harder but I was very happy with the quality of the test.

Herpetology (2nd): 1/10. See heterodon's comment :) The main thing I have to say about this test is that unfortunately it was nowhere near the appropriate difficulty level that a Nationals test should be, and while I appreciate the effort the supervisor(s) put in, it was a shame to see all the work and studying we put in basically go unused because of how easy the test was. Hopefully changes are implemented next year and we get a test that is more pertinent to a national level of competition.

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Re: Nationals Event Discussion

Postby birdylayaduck08 » May 20th, 2018, 7:05 pm

Game On (11): 10/10. It was run great and I liked how systematic the proctors were in the process of saving your game and everything like that. Prompt was 2-player racing, Polymerization.

Dynamic Planet (6): 6/10. Extremely weird test. I really don't understand why the proctor was so set on making a "different" test (the MC had 20 answer choices each over some random map, and the free response was literally a throw up of information of everything you know in these specified letters of the rules manual). It was a bit disappointing that last year's entire Nationals test was gravity and magnetic anomalies, we primarily studied this for the month we had after State, and none of that showed up. It was an okay test in the end, but definitely not something I would expect at Nationals.

Herpetology (31): 3/10. 34 stations and 1:30 for 2 questions per station. I don't really know what happened here; the test was way too easy for Nationals and I'm guessing we made a few mistakes that dropped us down to the bottom half of teams. It really is disappointing to put so much time into an event, medal in it at MIT, but bomb it at Nationals. If I could redo this event, I have no idea what I would do differently. Taking the test itself was really boring and tedious, usually the adrenaline of the competition makes the time pass fast and makes you forget about everything except for the test itself. I constantly found myself trying to stay focused and keep working or checking my answers, and it really irked me that the proctor prided himself on how challenging this test was, when every question asked the most stale and basic questions in existence. Overall, I have no idea what to think about this, from blaming myself for not being good enough to wondering what there was even to be done when anyone is infallible to a few ID mistakes and this in itself shouldn't determine your skill level.

The tournament was really nice overall; you could tell it was very well planned and the opening/awards ceremonies were all amazing experiences. If Nationals was judged purely based on this, it'd be a 10/10. Despite that, it was disappointing that we do so much to get here in the first place (Texas bloodbath), and we end up getting tests that are comparable to Cyfalls in rigor and level of relevant-ness to the rules. I felt that the proctors tried too hard on having "different" tests, in which many of them do not know the fine line between creative and janky. I've heard of some events (all the physics ones) being run extremely well, which is great, but for me the tests were mediocre in general. I remember at MIT taking these intensive tests were fun, and the creativity of each test made me smile as I was writing as fast as I possibly could. Here, everything just seemed bland and sketchy. Nationals was a great experience, but the tests really decreased the quality of the competition overall. I've been dreaming about going to Nationals since I joined Science Olympiad in 7th grade, and finally having gone, the tests really changed my view on Nationals. I'd still like to thank all the proctors for taking time to write all these tests; they had good intentions in writing the test and it's a bit unfair of me to judge it so harshly. Sorry for these massive paragraphs:P
Last edited by birdylayaduck08 on May 20th, 2018, 11:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Nationals Event Discussion

Postby Justin72835 » May 20th, 2018, 7:42 pm

Experimental Design (19th): 5/10 While this event was run okay overall and the proctors knew what they were doing, I was disappointed with the actual prompt given. The topic of the experiment was momentum and they gave a ton of different sized balls as well some other materials that I don't recall. I was really looking forward to a topic that was more interesting and unique, as they are fun to do and they help differentiate teams better. Also, the proctors seemed a bit pushy with our team by making us describe our experiment halfway through the event and having us redo some portions of the procedure, which took away a good amount of time from us. Overall, I'd say that it was a pretty mediocre experience.

Hovercraft (4th): 7/10 Although I did not personally get to see the build portion for this event (I stayed behind while my partner handled the device testing), I heard it was run pretty well. The tracks were similar to the ones for MIT (or maybe the same, idk) which caused some issues for some other teams because of how slippery they were, but it didn't seem to be a problem for us. As for the test, it was definitely a bit on the easy side and I wished it could've been more challenging. Furthermore, a lot of the questions were pulled straight out of last years Hovercraft nationals test as well, which was a bit irking to see. Despite this, the test had a couple good questions (I liked the calc questions spread out across the test!) and I had an overall good experience taking it.

Remote Sensing (1st): 9/10 I felt that this test was exceptionally hard (I actually thought it was harder than last years) and my partner and I had a ton of fun taking it. So many Remote Sensing tests are just recalling random facts from the notes sheet (knowing the date of launch of a specific satellite or finding the wavelength of a specific band of a given instrument) and none of them seem to really test the interpretation aspect of the event, which is undoubtedly the most difficult part. Overall, I had a really awesome experience taking the test, even if half the time we were lost while taking it. While I'm sad to see that this event is leaving next year (having started this event midway through the year at MIT), I'm glad that I got to end the year this way.

Thermodynamics (12th): 9/10 I was extremely pleased with the proctors because of how well they ran the event (better than any other tournament I have been to this year). I appreciated how much care they took in ensuring that the water bath stayed at the designated temperature and how efficient they were with transferring the water into the beakers using the syringes. I also was happy that they actually followed the rules and allowed us to measure the temperature of the water before making the prediction, which was definitely not the case at other tournaments my partner and I have been to. As for the test, it was was of good difficulty, but I wished that it had a lot more calculation questions, which are wayyy more fun in my opinion. However, I did like that there were only a few history questions (rather than some tests are literally half history questions). Taken as a whole, this whole event was a great experience and I hope that other proctors in the future will emulate these same methods.
Last edited by Justin72835 on May 21st, 2018, 5:41 am, edited 2 times in total.
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