Nationals Event Discussion

nicholasmaurer
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Re: Nationals Event Discussion

Post by nicholasmaurer » June 8th, 2019, 5:00 pm

Ashernoel wrote:In the coming years, I think NSO should adopt three initiatives to further these goals, and I write them in this forum because all three are central my experience in my events at Nationals this past year: 1) NSO should institute a more exhaustive review process for national tests. This should be relatively simple, as many invitationals already do this. And, as a result, distributions like Herpetology 2018 and Herpetology 2019 would rarely happen again, if at all.
I second this suggestion. We implemented a test review process this past year at the regional tournament that I direct and the difference in event quality was significant. It is more work than you might anticipate and many supervisors object to their test being reviewed. It also requires that first drafts be complete at least 6-8 weeks before the tournament date. However, overall, the feedback from participating students was overwhelmingly positive and their experience is what this is all about.
Ashernoel wrote: 2) NSO should update its event offerings so that there is a higher proportion of Computer Science-related events. Science Olympiad's mission statement claims to aim to create a "technologically-literate workforce," but the realities of the current 23 Division C events suggests a different story. As someone who is considering going into CS in college, I wish Science Olympiad had provided more opportunities for me to explore this avenue of science and STEM. I think it is time for Science Olympiad to invest heavily into updating its event slate so that it is more fit to equip budding scientists the skills that they need in 2019, not 1999.
I agree with this suggestion as well, and my impression is that there is an awareness at the national level that changes are needed. However, CS events can be challenging from an equity standpoint, as most options require either computer labs (which many host locations are phasing out) or that students provide or even impound their own laptops (which not everyone own). CS-intensive build events also often have a high cost associated with them. I've heard that less affluent schools often choose to forego participation in specific events entirely if the costs exceed $30-50. Food for thought - there are no easy answers here.
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Re: Nationals Event Discussion

Post by EastStroudsburg13 » June 9th, 2019, 6:08 am

syo_astro wrote:
EastStroudsburg13 wrote:Collecting people's ratings yields these average ratings (sorry people who didn't provide numerical ratings, but I didn't try to guess what you would have given :P )...Keep those ratings coming!
No pressure, but can you or anyone see how event placings correlate with rankings? Just an obvious source of systematics for those that give it.
I think that's an interesting idea, but I wonder how useful it might be because of how few ratings some events have. Would be worth exploring though!
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Re: Nationals Event Discussion

Post by chalker » June 9th, 2019, 10:16 am

MoolaSmoola wrote:I really wish the keynote speaker knew what scioly was. and wasn't weird, outdated, and patronizing towards women and female people; I think we all knew that women could do science before he got up on that stage and blew our minds :roll:
I'm really quite surprised by this statement and wonder if you can elaborate? While we've come a long way in recent years, there is still an unfortunate disparity with regards to gender ratios in STEM fields compared to to the general population. Middle school aged girls in particular still face a lot of pressure and 'burn-out' of interest in STEM at too high of rates. Thus any opportunity to highlight positive female STEM-related role models should be applauded in my opinion, which is exactly what he was encouraged to do as part of his keynote.

I also don't know why you'd think Grant is 'outdated'. The final episode of Mythbusters first aired only 3 years ago, and the re-runs are still incredibly popular. For most of the current demographic age group of Science Olympiad participants, Mythbusters was one of the hit shows they watched over the past few years. This was evident by the reaction of the audience to him coming on stage - I can't recall a reaction like that to any other keynote speaker in recent history.

Finally, while we all eat / drink / breath Science Olympiad, it's relatively unknown to the general population. It's EXTREMELY rare for us to get a keynote speaker at a National Tournament that knows beforehand about SO. Anyone that we could get it likely to have limited broad base appeal since they probably are focused on a very specific field or domain.

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Re: Nationals Event Discussion

Post by TheCrazyChemist » June 9th, 2019, 12:11 pm

chalker wrote:
MoolaSmoola wrote:I really wish the keynote speaker knew what scioly was. and wasn't weird, outdated, and patronizing towards women and female people; I think we all knew that women could do science before he got up on that stage and blew our minds :roll:
I'm really quite surprised by this statement and wonder if you can elaborate? While we've come a long way in recent years, there is still an unfortunate disparity with regards to gender ratios in STEM fields compared to to the general population. Middle school aged girls in particular still face a lot of pressure and 'burn-out' of interest in STEM at too high of rates. Thus any opportunity to highlight positive female STEM-related role models should be applauded in my opinion, which is exactly what he was encouraged to do as part of his keynote.
I think that what MoolaSmoola meant was that most (if not all) people in Science Olympiad know that girls and women are perfectly as good as boys and men. Maybe that's just my opinion on how the Science Olympiad community is. Still, I do think it's important to highlight women in STEM who have been successful. I just think that it might have been more relevant to point out past female Science Olympiad competitors who've been really successful. But I loved Grant Imahara's speech, especially his recount of Mythbusters.

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Re: Nationals Event Discussion

Post by FiveW's » June 9th, 2019, 12:54 pm

Overall Rating: 9.5/10
It was a great experience from the beginning to the end. Starting off with the opening ceremonies. The speeches were great and overall the opening ceremonies was probably one of the best parts of nationals. Other than the strobe lights and stuff going off every 10 seconds it felt like and some of the speeches may have been long and drawn out. Next there was the Ice Cream Social it was a bit cramped but, free ice cream is free ice cream. Then was the competition which was fun other than the long walks and some of the rooms feeling very humid and hot. Awards also was great and a fabulous way to end the competition. Sad to see Dr. Putz retire. The food was also great at the competition and scenery was nice.
Crime Busters(6th):
There's not much to say. The event was well ran and we did well. It was certainly the biggest test I have seen for Crime Busters in my Science Olympiad career. Some of the random trivia may have been unneeded honestly and it was disappointing that there were no three mixtures since, we had been preparing for them a lot before nationals. Overall Rating: 8.5/10
Potions and Poisons(47th):
This event didn't go so well per say. The cabbage lab for me at least was new and unexpected. Which was probably the main reason we bombed this event. I also didn't notice till the end that you were supposed to compare the colors with the liquids up front to find the ph. So, we basically just guessed on the lab. The conductivity beginning thing was way to easy. The test was pretty long and touched most bases but, didn't really expand deeply. It was nice to see that they had separation methods and pollution questions on the tests. It was challenging in length and some questions and while I may not have done well I believe this was the most national feeling event. Event Rating:6.5/10
Density Lab(16th):
This event was for sure hands down my favorite event of the day. The labs went very well for us and most the labs were fun. I will say it was mainly a speed competition though for the question portion. It was really whoever could do the formulas and math faster. Back to the labs, the first lab our team did was the BB lab which is a pretty common lab so, we had lots of practice with it. The second lab we did was the Shaving Cream lab, this lab we probably did the worst on but, it was hectic and fun. The last lab we did was the Sand Floating Lab. This is literally the easiest possible lab and most common. All you had to do was make a container float with the maximum amount of sand. Event Rating:9.5/10
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Re: Nationals Event Discussion

Post by MoolaSmoola » June 9th, 2019, 6:23 pm

chalker wrote:
MoolaSmoola wrote:I really wish the keynote speaker knew what scioly was. and wasn't weird, outdated, and patronizing towards women and female people; I think we all knew that women could do science before he got up on that stage and blew our minds :roll:
I'm really quite surprised by this statement and wonder if you can elaborate? While we've come a long way in recent years, there is still an unfortunate disparity with regards to gender ratios in STEM fields compared to to the general population. Middle school aged girls in particular still face a lot of pressure and 'burn-out' of interest in STEM at too high of rates. Thus any opportunity to highlight positive female STEM-related role models should be applauded in my opinion, which is exactly what he was encouraged to do as part of his keynote.

I also don't know why you'd think Grant is 'outdated'. The final episode of Mythbusters first aired only 3 years ago, and the re-runs are still incredibly popular. For most of the current demographic age group of Science Olympiad participants, Mythbusters was one of the hit shows they watched over the past few years. This was evident by the reaction of the audience to him coming on stage - I can't recall a reaction like that to any other keynote speaker in recent history.

Finally, while we all eat / drink / breath Science Olympiad, it's relatively unknown to the general population. It's EXTREMELY rare for us to get a keynote speaker at a National Tournament that knows beforehand about SO. Anyone that we could get it likely to have limited broad base appeal since they probably are focused on a very specific field or domain.
Firstly, I want to apologize for the way my words were, well, worded. By no means was I trying to insinuate that he was outdated in a general sense or in terms of his career, neither of which are less inspiring today. I'd actually like to state right now that I greatly appreciated the racial diversity of the speakers at the Awards Ceremony, especially pertinent for an organization like Science Olympiad.

Instead, I was referring to the way many of my teammates and I felt towards the awkward fashion in which Grant introduced his slides about women in science. In the topic slide preceding those that highlighted positive female STEM-related role models, as you said, Grant introduced the idea that 'Science is for everybody,' which I do think is a valuable and increasingly important message. However, given the audience and the whole premise of Science Olympiad, we were expecting some kind of message about how science and STEM fields should be equally accessible to people of all ages. This is a message that, while possibly not as crucial as one that empowers people of all races and genders, would've at least appeared on a surface level to be a relatively 'revolutionary' idea, and is actually not discussed all that often. It came off as a surprise, as a result, that he chose to present the ability of women to enter and succeed in STEM fields as some kind of revelation when the entire stadium in front of him was testament to that fact. By no means am I saying that gender inequity in STEM is no longer an issue or still prevalent to an alarming degree, and that he shouldn't have been encouraged to or choose to discuss it in his keynote. What I took issue with, and what I didn't express in my initial post, was that he presented this issue as revelatory, and there was little to no nuance behind the statement. Women have historically made monumental contributions to STEM fields and in the process have have been subjugated to abuses, prejudices, and biases of all kinds. This especially includes women of all sexualities and races. Clicking through a couple slides with the pictures and names of women in STEM who have done immeasurable work both in their fields and for women's rights is simply not enough in the present year, or at least that's how I felt and feel. The women in that stadium are all passionate about science and their presence at the National Science Olympiad tournament proves that. They do not need to be talked down to and told that their presence is surprising, that it needs to be said to them that they are capable of what they have already done and will go on to do. Surely a more nuanced take on the struggles women in science face and persevere through would've been better received and more constructive. Those points regarding the persistent oppression of women in STEM you brought up are valid, but weren't discussed beyond a surface level. Yes, women are proportionately less represented in STEM, and yes, they face significant adversity at every step of the way. How do we, as a community of people who eat, drink, and breathe Scioly move beyond that and work to create lasting change? Maybe I'm being too optimistic and I expected too much, and we still are at the level where we need positive reinforcement in the form of dropping pictures of role models and leaving it at that. But if a keynote speaker is going to bring the topic of gender equality up, I, and everyone, should expect more than a surface level observation. We start with this kind of awareness, but we certainly can't progress much further with it.

I enjoyed the rest of the speech, and again, I never meant to make any jab towards Grant's relevance—seeing that he was the keynote speaker was quite a shock (in a good way) and with the announcement of 2020's speaker, I'm excited to see who else Scioly can get to the National tournament in the future. :D I do concede that Science Olympiad as a whole is still relatively niche, I think my hopes were a bit too high now that I think about it. Thank you for responding, I appreciated the chance to clarify my statements and I hope I did so adequately.
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Re: Nationals Event Discussion

Post by RestingDoll » June 10th, 2019, 10:25 am

nicholasmaurer wrote:
Ashernoel wrote: 2) NSO should update its event offerings so that there is a higher proportion of Computer Science-related events. Science Olympiad's mission statement claims to aim to create a "technologically-literate workforce," but the realities of the current 23 Division C events suggests a different story. As someone who is considering going into CS in college, I wish Science Olympiad had provided more opportunities for me to explore this avenue of science and STEM. I think it is time for Science Olympiad to invest heavily into updating its event slate so that it is more fit to equip budding scientists the skills that they need in 2019, not 1999.
I agree with this suggestion as well, and my impression is that there is an awareness at the national level that changes are needed. However, CS events can be challenging from an equity standpoint, as most options require either computer labs (which many host locations are phasing out) or that students provide or even impound their own laptops (which not everyone own). CS-intensive build events also often have a high cost associated with them. I've heard that less affluent schools often choose to forego participation in specific events entirely if the costs exceed $30-50. Food for thought - there are no easy answers here.
I think CS events can definitely be implemented without the use of computers. From my experience, exams for CS classes in college are entirely handwritten. For Scioly, the same thing applies; one written section devoted to data structures, another to asymptotics, another to coding problems (eg interview problems), another to algorithms, and another to discrete math, with each section containing 2 problems or something. Realistically, the only scenario that requires computers would be if there was a software engineering event, as the aforementioned topics could be learned simply with access to the internet.

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Re: Nationals Event Discussion

Post by pepperonipi » June 10th, 2019, 11:18 am

RestingDoll wrote:
nicholasmaurer wrote:
Ashernoel wrote: 2) NSO should update its event offerings so that there is a higher proportion of Computer Science-related events. Science Olympiad's mission statement claims to aim to create a "technologically-literate workforce," but the realities of the current 23 Division C events suggests a different story. As someone who is considering going into CS in college, I wish Science Olympiad had provided more opportunities for me to explore this avenue of science and STEM. I think it is time for Science Olympiad to invest heavily into updating its event slate so that it is more fit to equip budding scientists the skills that they need in 2019, not 1999.
I agree with this suggestion as well, and my impression is that there is an awareness at the national level that changes are needed. However, CS events can be challenging from an equity standpoint, as most options require either computer labs (which many host locations are phasing out) or that students provide or even impound their own laptops (which not everyone own). CS-intensive build events also often have a high cost associated with them. I've heard that less affluent schools often choose to forego participation in specific events entirely if the costs exceed $30-50. Food for thought - there are no easy answers here.
I think CS events can definitely be implemented without the use of computers. From my experience, exams for CS classes in college are entirely handwritten. For Scioly, the same thing applies; one written section devoted to data structures, another to asymptotics, another to coding problems (eg interview problems), another to algorithms, and another to discrete math, with each section containing 2 problems or something. Realistically, the only scenario that requires computers would be if there was a software engineering event, as the aforementioned topics could be learned simply with access to the internet.
The "What the Function" trial event at MIT (aka Python 3) was done using a pencil-and-paper test and I didn't notice any major problems. I think the event's only challenge I noticed was that it appeared some teams came into the event already having amazing Python skills, since many kids learn Python outside of the classroom on their own or in a class.
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Re: Nationals Event Discussion

Post by Unome » June 10th, 2019, 11:51 am

pepperonipi wrote:
RestingDoll wrote:
nicholasmaurer wrote:

I agree with this suggestion as well, and my impression is that there is an awareness at the national level that changes are needed. However, CS events can be challenging from an equity standpoint, as most options require either computer labs (which many host locations are phasing out) or that students provide or even impound their own laptops (which not everyone own). CS-intensive build events also often have a high cost associated with them. I've heard that less affluent schools often choose to forego participation in specific events entirely if the costs exceed $30-50. Food for thought - there are no easy answers here.
I think CS events can definitely be implemented without the use of computers. From my experience, exams for CS classes in college are entirely handwritten. For Scioly, the same thing applies; one written section devoted to data structures, another to asymptotics, another to coding problems (eg interview problems), another to algorithms, and another to discrete math, with each section containing 2 problems or something. Realistically, the only scenario that requires computers would be if there was a software engineering event, as the aforementioned topics could be learned simply with access to the internet.
The "What the Function" trial event at MIT (aka Python 3) was done using a pencil-and-paper test and I didn't notice any major problems. I think the event's only challenge I noticed was that it appeared some teams came into the event already having amazing Python skills, since many kids learn Python outside of the classroom on their own or in a class.
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Re: Nationals Event Discussion

Post by RestingDoll » June 10th, 2019, 12:08 pm

pepperonipi wrote:
The "What the Function" trial event at MIT (aka Python 3) was done using a pencil-and-paper test and I didn't notice any major problems. I think the event's only challenge I noticed was that it appeared some teams came into the event already having amazing Python skills, since many kids learn Python outside of the classroom on their own or in a class.
I would hope that they have good Python skills and not just wing it at the event :P. The language could simply be in psuedocode, or designated at the beginning of the year. Of course there will be students who are stronger because they've been coding for longer, but fundamentally questions about data structures/algorithms/runtime can be done without any knowledge of a specific language. In fact, students who have been coding for a long time might actually be lacking knowledge about the theoretical side of cs.

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