Alumni Volunteers

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sean9keenan
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Alumni Volunteers

Postby sean9keenan » May 1st, 2011, 10:11 pm

As I'm sure many of you agree having students that have competed in Science Olympiad competitively before make the best event supervisors why don't we have some sort of form or system either set up for alumni to donate time. It seems to be that in a lot of cases people are willing to get involved if it's easy for them to sign up and it's something they know they can do. It wouldn't be hard to set up a form (even a google form which is free) from soinc or scioly such that volunteers in specific areas could sign up to help. I'm sure that it would be a great boon to both the participating students and the people that are coordinating the events.

I know that in California Caltech students (of whom the vast majority did science olympiad) run the events, and for the most part events are run well, but the best run events are by those who are most passionate about science olympiad and when we do have issues it's because the people aren't truly passionate about the event. All I'm saying is that there should be an easier way for alumni to get involved, especially ones active on the boards, I can't imagine it would be hard to put together at least a small group.

Just my 2 cents,

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Re: Ohio 2011

Postby sean9keenan » May 1st, 2011, 10:37 pm

I just created a form that sort of represents what I was thinking of:

http://goo.gl/WeipQ

Does anyone have any thoughts regarding this? It seems like it could only do good. There aren't many disadvantages to it
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Re: Ohio 2011

Postby chalker » May 2nd, 2011, 7:15 am

I just created a form that sort of represents what I was thinking of:

http://goo.gl/WeipQ

Does anyone have any thoughts regarding this? It seems like it could only do good. There aren't many disadvantages to it

This is a very good idea. Is there a way to customize it to a particular state so we aren't swamped with people from all over the country?

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Re: Ohio 2011

Postby dholdgreve » May 2nd, 2011, 7:37 am

I just created a form that sort of represents what I was thinking of:

http://goo.gl/WeipQ

Does anyone have any thoughts regarding this? It seems like it could only do good. There aren't many disadvantages to it

This is a very good idea. Is there a way to customize it to a particular state so we aren't swamped with people from all over the country?
Interesting choice of words, considering they are volunteers...

I would think that this information could be captured in a database, then sorted by state, by interest, but in reality do we really believe that department heads at state tournaments will be willing to relinquish the authority of these events to SO alums potentially having no ties to the campus, as opposed to tapping Grad Students on their shoulder and having someone that is 100% indentured to the department?
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Alumni Volunteers1

Postby chalker7 » May 2nd, 2011, 8:11 am

Interesting choice of words, considering they are volunteers...

I would think that this information could be captured in a database, then sorted by state, by interest, but in reality do we really believe that department heads at state tournaments will be willing to relinquish the authority of these events to SO alums potentially having no ties to the campus, as opposed to tapping Grad Students on their shoulder and having someone that is 100% indentured to the department?
Wow....buy into conspiracy theories much? Don't forget that the evil multinational corporation controlling the national office also had a man on the grassy knoll. Coincidence? I think not!

I am obviously kidding with that, but seriously it would be great to have a database for volunteers. What my brother was trying to point out above is that it is very difficult to manage such a system. Science Olympiad already has an alumni database (http://soinc.org/alumni_survey), even if it isn't explicitly for the purposes of volunteering. If we were to have one large, central database, someone would have to sort through all of the submissions and put those who filled out the forms in contact with those who need help. That's great in theory, but incredibly difficult to actually implement.

Also, just because alumni have participated for years does not necessarily mean they know exactly what to do. One common problem we have with new alumni event supervisors is that they simply write tests that are vastly too difficult or complicated. The reason for this is obvious, the alumni who volunteer were usually some of the best competitors. They expect many of the teams to be at a similar level and write a test accordingly. It normally takes a couple of iterations before they get the hang of things. Which is not to say having alumni help out is a bad thing, I think our established alumni base is a great, largely untapped resource. We just have to be smart about how to involve more alumni.
Last edited by chalker7 on May 2nd, 2011, 9:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ohio 2011

Postby chalker » May 2nd, 2011, 12:41 pm

.... do we really believe that department heads at state tournaments will be willing to relinquish the authority of these events to SO alums potentially having no ties to the campus, as opposed to tapping Grad Students on their shoulder and having someone that is 100% indentured to the department?
Speaking only from the Ohio State tournament specifically, YES, we would love more SO alums to run events. In general there are NO 'department heads' with 'authority over events'. Lynn spends a lot of time every spring essentially begging and pleading with anyone she can find that might be able to run some of the events.

Luckily we do have a handful of alums that consistently volunteer their time and essentially have no ties to the campus nor are somehow 'indentured to the department'. We'd love to have more.

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Re: Ohio 2011

Postby French_Toast » May 2nd, 2011, 1:00 pm

I do agree with the idea of having more alumni or coaches writing tests, although I do understand that it might not be easy to find enough people. After I graduate in a few more years(this is currently my sophomore year), assuming I go to college in state(highly likely) I'll be sure to volunteer to run something. I do respect that people are willing to help out, I just wish that if they were going to, they would take the time to do it right(which may be easier said than done, but still, as I said, we are Ohio).
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Re: Ohio 2011

Postby quizbowl » May 2nd, 2011, 2:31 pm

Does one necessarily have to be a graduate to compete? Could a C competitor help out in any tournament that needs help? I guess it wouldn't be feasible if someone did in their own area, but in another? A lot of C people would love to help out (including me :) )
2010: 5th in NYS
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Re: Ohio 2011

Postby Littleboy » May 2nd, 2011, 2:41 pm

Yea some of us wouldn't mind going to nats to help out

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Re: Ohio 2011

Postby quizbowl » May 2nd, 2011, 2:46 pm

Yea some of us wouldn't mind going to nats to help out
Not only nats, but local competitions! I definitely would be interested in helping out on the B level next year.
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Re: Ohio 2011

Postby sean9keenan » May 2nd, 2011, 3:08 pm

Interesting choice of words, considering they are volunteers...

I would think that this information could be captured in a database, then sorted by state, by interest, but in reality do we really believe that department heads at state tournaments will be willing to relinquish the authority of these events to SO alums potentially having no ties to the campus, as opposed to tapping Grad Students on their shoulder and having someone that is 100% indentured to the department?
Wow....buy into conspiracy theories much? Don't forget that the evil multinational corporation controlling the national office also had a man on the grassy knoll. Coincidence? I think not!

I am obviously kidding with that, but seriously it would be great to have a database for volunteers. What my brother was trying to point out above is that it is very difficult to manage such a system. Science Olympiad already has an alumni database (http://soinc.org/alumni_survey), even if it isn't explicitly for the purposes of volunteering. If we were to have one large, central database, someone would have to sort through all of the submissions and put those who filled out the forms in contact with those who need help. That's great in theory, but incredibly difficult to actually implement.

Also, just because alumni have participated for years does not necessarily mean they know exactly what to do. One common problem we have with new alumni event supervisors is that they simply write tests that are vastly too difficult or complicated. The reason for this is obvious, the alumni who volunteer were usually some of the best competitors. They expect many of the teams to be at a similar level and write a test accordingly. It normally takes a couple of iterations before they get the hang of things. Which is not to say having alumni help out is a bad thing, I think our established alumni base is a great, largely untapped resource. We just have to be smart about how to involve more alumni.
As an alumni that began helping out this year I know that I did have somewhat of a learning curve when it came to writing the tests, but I know that I would have been much more receptive to suggestions and advice then many other people that aren't as dedicated. Whether that be example tests or anything. I know that the advice that I would have given my past self is to make the tests easier to grade, since you don't have that much time to grade them, and to make the difficulty extremely scaling, such that everyone can get some points, but not all, after all the point of the tests is to accurately differentiate the teams, and I think my second round of tests (states) did an even better job of accomplishing those two goals then my regionals tests.
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Re: Ohio 2011

Postby chalker » May 2nd, 2011, 7:43 pm

Does one necessarily have to be a graduate to compete? Could a C competitor help out in any tournament that needs help? I guess it wouldn't be feasible if someone did in their own area, but in another? A lot of C people would love to help out (including me :) )

Sure. We don't care what your age is if you are willing to volunteer to help.

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Re: Ohio 2011

Postby chalker » May 2nd, 2011, 7:44 pm

Yea some of us wouldn't mind going to nats to help out
Note that ever year there is a general call for volunteers to help at nationals. This year you can find the details at: http://nso.wisc.edu/volunteering.php

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Re: Ohio 2011

Postby sean9keenan » May 2nd, 2011, 11:49 pm

I just created a form that sort of represents what I was thinking of:

http://goo.gl/WeipQ

Does anyone have any thoughts regarding this? It seems like it could only do good. There aren't many disadvantages to it

This is a very good idea. Is there a way to customize it to a particular state so we aren't swamped with people from all over the country?
Regarding this point it's extremely easy to filter out just the people from a specific state, a single click, and google also has some software which I think can let you export and map all of the volunteers on a map rather easily. In addition before it were to become a real survey I would recommend adding a few questions and cleaning up the form, that was more of a proof of concept ~2 minute mockup.

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Re: Alumni Volunteers

Postby gneissisnice » May 4th, 2011, 5:29 am

I love helping out at competitions.

I'm lucky because the coach of my jr. high happens to be the state Fossils director, and he usually asks me to help out at competition (Fossils/Rocks and Minerals have always been my best events).

I've competed so many times that I know what the kids are feeling when they do the events and what questions might be considered a bit too vague and whatnot. I was the event supervisor in NYS for Division B this year, and I really enjoyed getting to help out and grade tests and make sure things were running smoothly.
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Fossils: 1st @ reg. 3rd @ states (stupid dinosaurs...) 5th @ nats.
Dynamic: 1st @ reg. 19thish @ states, 18th @ nats
Herpetology (NOT the study of herpes): NA
Enviro Chem: 39th @ states =(
Cell Bio: 9th @ reg. 18th @ nats
Remote: 6th @ states 3rd @ Nats
Ecology: 5th @ Nats


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