How to Host an Invitational:

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belle
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How to Host an Invitational:

Post by belle » August 22nd, 2020, 1:32 pm

Hi! I am interested in hosting an invitational at my school for around 25 times. This would be for next year, in 2021, but I would love if anybody had some tips, as myself school needs information to plan ahead. I'm looking for answers from anyone: coaches, event supervisors, students, etc. Thanks!

I'm just wondering about the following topics relating to invitational set-up and hosting:

Outreach to other schools
Convincing people to volunteer(for me, this would be fellow students in my school who would volunteer), so any incentives that would work?
Teaching people how to volunteer --> would they have to be national supervisor certified? & also generally how to simply show them their role & what they will have to do
Realistically, how many volunteers would I need?
Test writing
Hosting the actual event --> running it smoothly, prizes for competitors/other benefits that you would suggest/food
Speakers/other things that you would enjoy at a closing/opening ceremony?
How to attain sponsors?


Again, thank you so much for your help! Anything would be appreciated!

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Re: How to Host an Invitational:

Post by SilverBreeze » August 22nd, 2020, 6:23 pm

belle wrote:
August 22nd, 2020, 1:32 pm
Convincing people to volunteer(for me, this would be fellow students in my school who would volunteer), so any incentives that would work?
Teaching people how to volunteer --> would they have to be national supervisor certified?
Speakers/other things that you would enjoy at a closing/opening ceremony?
Volunteer hours and free food are very effective incentives for high schoolers. You can also see if local college students might be interested.
No, they don't need to be certified (as far as I know).
You could have people give a speech, but it's not needed. Almost no invitational I know does an opening ceremony, I think? Teams just show up and register. You might want to have some performing teams like dance/music or games or something to stall in case awards gets delayed (which it almost always does).

Others with more experience can provide more insight here.
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Re: How to Host an Invitational:

Post by EwwPhysics » August 22nd, 2020, 6:50 pm

I don't really have much experience with volunteering stuff, but I'll try to help you with what I know from competing. Please take everything I say with a grain of salt, I'm far from being an expert on this subject :)

Activities such as a team trial event (we did some sort of codebusters thing at Garnet Valley, and some sort of quiz bowl thing at regionals iirc) can provide entertainment while waiting for awards.
Since you have a scioly team at your school, you could potentially make it a big activity for team members to volunteer at this invitational, or even make it mandatory. Treating it as a team bonding sort of thing could be helpful (don't take my word for it though lol).
Using social media would probably be the best way to reach out to other people, especially since everything is online now. Social media can be used to advertise for both volunteers and teams that would like to attend. Posting on these forums could also get you some attention!
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Re: How to Host an Invitational:

Post by Tailsfan101 » August 22nd, 2020, 6:55 pm

I would talk to your state director about starting an invitational, as they can definitely help with setting up things and getting the word out (i.e. state websites). This was certainly a factor in the first full invitational in Idaho last season at North JH.
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Re: How to Host an Invitational:

Post by RiverWalker88 » August 22nd, 2020, 7:15 pm

Hello! I'm currently in the process of doing the same thing (organizing an invitational for the first time), so I figure I'd share some of my notions. Although I might point out that these are in the process of field-testing, after all, this is my first one.

First and foremost, I think it's of utmost importance to get it approved from your state director; they can alter your course entirely (if you haven't already seen it, the invitationals page is at https://www.soinc.org/play/invitationals, which contains some requirements for hosting an invitational). Once you at least get in contact with them, you are probably good to officially start.

On the topics you specifically asked about:
Outreach to other schools: Just getting it out there is a big deal. Once it's out there and people hear about it, it will start to spread (from what I've seen, at least). Making a basic website (it won't need to be anything super fancy) that gives your plan and posting it on the forums is a good start. The state website might also be willing to include some of your invitational info.

Convincing people to volunteer: As SilverBreeze mentioned, food and volunteer hours can be good incentives. Motivating students about the fun of Science Olympiad might also help. Try to bring your team into it, as they already know the fun of Scioly and might be willing to embrace it from a volunteer perspective. And definitely don't turn down offers to help, staff members at your school may be busy, but they might be really interested and might be willing to help out too. I'm not certain about this one, but I wish you the best of luck with it!

Teaching people how to volunteer: There is a basic volunteer training tool on https://www.soinc.org/participants/volunteers as well as a large amount of Science Olympiad volunteer stuff. On https://www.soinc.org/officials/event-supervisors, you'll find a large variety of event supervisor (and test writer) resources, including the Event Logistics Manual, which contains really helpful information for each event, as well as general event design. You'll also want to make sure that ALL volunteers have read the event rules. Past this, it's really up to you how far you want to take this. Lots of states have volunteer guides, you might be able to pick one you like and suggest your volunteers follow it (your state might even have one). Some that I have found particularly helpful are the Washington State (https://sites.google.com/site/wasoevent ... guide/home) and UNM Regional (https://stemed.unm.edu/sites/docs/WHAT_ ... O_KNOW.pdf) guides, although these obviously contain information that relates to their specific tournaments.

Realistically, how many volunteers would I need: This really depends. You should have someone on each event (although some people might be able to take on two, especially if you can't find enough). For events that require timing and testing, you should probably have 2-3 (including the event supervisor).

Test writing: This is a difficult one. The resources above in "Teaching people how to volunteer" contain information on test writing, but linking volunteers to the test exchange would be a really helpful resource (I've written a few tests, and having some tests for inspiration was a lifesaver). Make sure they know not to underestimate or overestimate teams. The how to write a practice test wiki page (https://scioly.org/wiki/index.php/How_t ... ctice_Test) has some good info for test writing.

Hosting the actual event: I can't say much about this one yet. Probably just making sure that teams know what to expect. The earlier you can tell them everything (the schedule, rule clarifications, how you plan to run it--online or not, whether or not there will be food, etc.), the better it will be.

Speakers/other things that you would enjoy at a closing/opening ceremony: This is one I really can't speak for. Most NM awards ceremonies consist of them reading off awards and sponsors and sending you away. I assume SilverBreeze's recommendation is a good one.

How to attain sponsors: My personal plan for this is to have teams pay a reasonable entry fee and then send out a lot of emails to businesses around town asking them to sponsor us. You might have a harder time with this, given that there are a lot of struggling businesses.

Sorry for the wall of text...

I hope everything goes well for you, and I wish you the best of luck in organizing this tournament!

EDIT: Apologies for any repeats of info from above. When I started making this, I had only seen SiverBreeze's reply.
Last edited by RiverWalker88 on August 22nd, 2020, 7:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How to Host an Invitational:

Post by Unome » August 25th, 2020, 7:42 am

belle wrote:
August 22nd, 2020, 1:32 pm
Hi! I am interested in hosting an invitational at my school for around 25 times. This would be for next year, in 2021, but I would love if anybody had some tips, as myself school needs information to plan ahead. I'm looking for answers from anyone: coaches, event supervisors, students, etc. Thanks!

I'm just wondering about the following topics relating to invitational set-up and hosting:

Outreach to other schools
Convincing people to volunteer(for me, this would be fellow students in my school who would volunteer), so any incentives that would work?
Teaching people how to volunteer --> would they have to be national supervisor certified? & also generally how to simply show them their role & what they will have to do
Realistically, how many volunteers would I need?
Test writing
Hosting the actual event --> running it smoothly, prizes for competitors/other benefits that you would suggest/food
Speakers/other things that you would enjoy at a closing/opening ceremony?
How to attain sponsors?


Again, thank you so much for your help! Anything would be appreciated!
Outreach - If your state website lists invitationals in the state (most do) make sure to get yours on there. Have a website, and if there are any other local invitationals, you could probably email some of the same teams.
Volunteers - Many schools have service organizations dedicated to general volunteering, see if you can get in touch with them. Admittedly this is not an area I was particularly great with.
Training - I concur with the mention of Washington's guide.
Number of volunteers - I would estimate 30-50, but heavily depends on what exactly you end up having your volunteers do.
Test writing - Many invitationals ask attending teams to write some or most of the tests as part of attendance. I recommend looking to other local invitationals (if they exist) as a guide for what your local teams are likely to consider normal. Of course you can deviate from what has been done, but try to do it in ways that won't make teams instinctively think twice. If there are little to no invitationals nearby, I'd recommend asking specific tournaments from various states how they do things, to get ideas for how you want to run yours.
Hosting the actual event - Hm... there are a lot of things that I'm really not sure how to organize in my head...
Awards "stalling" (lol) - I wouldn't know much about this (partially because I was usually in the scoring room while this was happening).
Sponsors - I am bad at this.
Last edited by Unome on August 25th, 2020, 7:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How to Host an Invitational:

Post by BennyTheJett » August 26th, 2020, 7:06 am

As for getting test writers that are experienced, you could put an advertisement out on the forums or one of the discords as "SEEKING TEST WRITERS" and you'll probably get a few.

As for sponsors, approach local STEM businesses, most of them would probably love to advertise their brand at a science nerd competition.

For volunteers ask parents or the NHS chapter in your school.
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Re: How to Host an Invitational:

Post by belle » September 13th, 2020, 5:00 pm

Thank you all so much!!!

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