Massachusetts 2017

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Re: Massachusetts 2017

Postby kenniky » May 21st, 2017, 9:14 pm

Hi there.

This is kenniky; and I am (was?) a senior at Acton-Boxborough Regional High School in Massachusetts. I, along with antoine_ego and another member of our team (referred to as A), were prohibited from going to nationals this year despite our team's qualification and our performances throughout the year. I'd like to explain the circumstances that led to this decision in the hopes that you all can learn from our mistakes.

At the Massachusetts Science Olympiad, certain dual events, such as Wind Power, have their build and written test portions split throughout the day; builds are self-scheduled early in the day, while written tests are taken near the end of the competition. Because A was also doing Electric Vehicle and Robot Arm at the competition, we decided beforehand that antoine_ego and A would test the Hovercraft build, while I would take the written test with antoine_ego so that A would have time at the end of the day to test his other builds.

At the competition, we proceeded as planned. antoine_ego and A tested the Hovercraft build first thing in the morning, while I was in Optics; however, a slight misjudgment in regards to the mass of our vehicle left it unable to run, so we got a 0 for the build portion. A couple of other questionable events throughout the day, such as a questionable Materials Science test and an almost-DQ in Helicopters, left us pretty anxious about our chances for the National Tournament.

Come the Hovercraft test. As planned, antoine_ego and I proceeded to the Hovercraft room. Once we arrived, however, we were met with a surprise - the event supervisor stated that those who had tested the build earlier in the day should be the ones taking he written test. We kind of panicked and eventually decided to just write A's name down and hope they wouldn't try to compare handwriting. We informed A afterwards but told no one else, and summarily got 4th in Hovercraft on our test alone, destroying the competition and earning our eighth consecutive nationals qualification.

This, in hindsight, ended up being the worst decision I've ever made in my scioly career.

About a month later - so about two weeks before nationals - A came up to me. His conscience had been nagging him about the trick we had pulled off at states, and even though he hadn't been a part of the decision at the time, he thought we should tell someone about it, on the basis of morality. Although I had my apprehensions about the plan and its potential consequences, I knew that it was ultimately the right thing to do, so I agreed. antoine_ego took a little more convincing, but eventually he also decided that we should tell someone about it. So, A wrote a lengthy email to our coach explaining the situation and the circumstances surrounding it.

The rest of it spiraled out of control extremely quickly. School administration got involved, which we hadn't expected at all; and our disqualification from Hovercraft actually ended up putting us in second by 1 point, meaning that Newton South was offered the chance to compete; they unhappily declined as the notice was way too sudden. To make a long story short, the three of us were ultimately banned from the 2017 National Tournament - which is why Acton-Boxborough may not have done as well as you expected. Sorry to any of you who put us high in the prediction contest.

Was I sad? That's an understatement; I was absolutely devastated at losing the one thing I had consistently worked towards for the better part of a year. Could we have gotten away with it? Almost certainly; the fact that we survived until May without anyone noticing meant that they had probably passed our tests over and thought nothing of them. But I think it can serve as a lesson to all of you, that the rules just really aren't worth breaking for that extra leg up on the competition.

Mistakes were made, and no matter how much I angst about it (and I'm still angsting a lot about it), there's really no reversing them. I just hope that something good can come out of this, and that's why I'm posting this here.

Thanks for reading. I'll see you at Midwest competitions, or the next National Tournament, where maybe I'll finally replace Jon Aros and give you all a decent Chem Lab test.

I'm still actually so tilted though we definitely would have made top 10 angeryyyyy

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Re: Massachusetts 2017

Postby Raleway » May 21st, 2017, 10:03 pm

kenniky wrote:Hi there.

This is kenniky; and I am (was?) a senior at Acton-Boxborough Regional High School in Massachusetts. I, along with antoine_ego and another member of our team (referred to as A), were prohibited from going to nationals this year despite our team's qualification and our performances throughout the year. I'd like to explain the circumstances that led to this decision in the hopes that you all can learn from our mistakes.

At the Massachusetts Science Olympiad, certain dual events, such as Wind Power, have their build and written test portions split throughout the day; builds are self-scheduled early in the day, while written tests are taken near the end of the competition. Because A was also doing Electric Vehicle and Robot Arm at the competition, we decided beforehand that antoine_ego and A would test the Hovercraft build, while I would take the written test with antoine_ego so that A would have time at the end of the day to test his other builds.

At the competition, we proceeded as planned. antoine_ego and A tested the Hovercraft build first thing in the morning, while I was in Optics; however, a slight misjudgment in regards to the mass of our vehicle left it unable to run, so we got a 0 for the build portion. A couple of other questionable events throughout the day, such as a questionable Materials Science test and an almost-DQ in Helicopters, left us pretty anxious about our chances for the National Tournament.

Come the Hovercraft test. As planned, antoine_ego and I proceeded to the Hovercraft room. Once we arrived, however, we were met with a surprise - the event supervisor stated that those who had tested the build earlier in the day should be the ones taking he written test. We kind of panicked and eventually decided to just write A's name down and hope they wouldn't try to compare handwriting. We informed A afterwards but told no one else, and summarily got 4th in Hovercraft on our test alone, destroying the competition and earning our eighth consecutive nationals qualification.

This, in hindsight, ended up being the worst decision I've ever made in my scioly career.

About a month later - so about two weeks before nationals - A came up to me. His conscience had been nagging him about the trick we had pulled off at states, and even though he hadn't been a part of the decision at the time, he thought we should tell someone about it, on the basis of morality. Although I had my apprehensions about the plan and its potential consequences, I knew that it was ultimately the right thing to do, so I agreed. antoine_ego took a little more convincing, but eventually he also decided that we should tell someone about it. So, A wrote a lengthy email to our coach explaining the situation and the circumstances surrounding it.

The rest of it spiraled out of control extremely quickly. School administration got involved, which we hadn't expected at all; and our disqualification from Hovercraft actually ended up putting us in second by 1 point, meaning that Newton South was offered the chance to compete; they unhappily declined as the notice was way too sudden. To make a long story short, the three of us were ultimately banned from the 2017 National Tournament - which is why Acton-Boxborough may not have done as well as you expected. Sorry to any of you who put us high in the prediction contest.

Was I sad? That's an understatement; I was absolutely devastated at losing the one thing I had consistently worked towards for the better part of a year. Could we have gotten away with it? Almost certainly; the fact that we survived until May without anyone noticing meant that they had probably passed our tests over and thought nothing of them. But I think it can serve as a lesson to all of you, that the rules just really aren't worth breaking for that extra leg up on the competition.

Mistakes were made, and no matter how much I angst about it (and I'm still angsting a lot about it), there's really no reversing them. I just hope that something good can come out of this, and that's why I'm posting this here.

Thanks for reading. I'll see you at Midwest competitions, or the next National Tournament, where maybe I'll finally replace Jon Aros and give you all a decent Chem Lab test.

I'm still actually so tilted though we definitely would have made top 10 angeryyyyy


God bless. Though I'm sure many a team does this... then again, bless your morals and ethics- need a lot more of those in this world.

Best of luck to you on your university and future after.
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Re: Massachusetts 2017

Postby fizzle » May 22nd, 2017, 6:45 am

kenniky wrote:Hi there.

This is kenniky; and I am (was?) a senior at Acton-Boxborough Regional High School in Massachusetts. I, along with antoine_ego and another member of our team (referred to as A), were prohibited from going to nationals this year despite our team's qualification and our performances throughout the year. I'd like to explain the circumstances that led to this decision in the hopes that you all can learn from our mistakes.



kenniky wrote:At the competition, we proceeded as planned. antoine_ego and A tested the Hovercraft build first thing in the morning, while I was in Optics; however, a slight misjudgment in regards to the mass of our vehicle left it unable to run, so we got a 0 for the build portion. A couple of other questionable events throughout the day, such as a questionable Materials Science test and an almost-DQ in Helicopters, left us pretty anxious about our chances for the National Tournament.


I can confirm, being at the state competition - I heard that only two teams had legal and/or working builds for Hovercraft, so it was essentially a test event, except for those two teams.
Also, my team was left somewhat puzzled with our 1st in Materials Science - if it deviated from the ruleset, that would make sense.

kenniky wrote:About a month later - so about two weeks before nationals - A came up to me. His conscience had been nagging him about the trick we had pulled off at states, and even though he hadn't been a part of the decision at the time, he thought we should tell someone about it, on the basis of morality. Although I had my apprehensions about the plan and its potential consequences, I knew that it was ultimately the right thing to do, so I agreed. antoine_ego took a little more convincing, but eventually he also decided that we should tell someone about it. So, A wrote a lengthy email to our coach explaining the situation and the circumstances surrounding it.

The rest of it spiraled out of control extremely quickly. School administration got involved, which we hadn't expected at all; and our disqualification from Hovercraft actually ended up putting us in second by 1 point, meaning that Newton South was offered the chance to compete; they unhappily declined as the notice was way too sudden. To make a long story short, the three of us were ultimately banned from the 2017 National Tournament - which is why Acton-Boxborough may not have done as well as you expected. Sorry to any of you who put us high in the prediction contest.

Was I sad? That's an understatement; I was absolutely devastated at losing the one thing I had consistently worked towards for the better part of a year. Could we have gotten away with it? Almost certainly; the fact that we survived until May without anyone noticing meant that they had probably passed our tests over and thought nothing of them. But I think it can serve as a lesson to all of you, that the rules just really aren't worth breaking for that extra leg up on the competition.

Mistakes were made, and no matter how much I angst about it (and I'm still angsting a lot about it), there's really no reversing them. I just hope that something good can come out of this, and that's why I'm posting this here.


That's really unfortunate to hear... :? I was hopeful for our state's chances this year, but some things are more important. Ultimately your team's morals held through, and that's really impressive. I can't say that my team would have definitely made the same decision in your position.

I'll send this story to them. Hopefully we all learn from this situation :)
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Perpetually 6th in MA

Going to Harvard and Brown this year! :)

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Re: Massachusetts 2017

Postby MIScioly1 » May 22nd, 2017, 9:04 am

A very unfortunate situation. I can guarantee that plenty of teams do similar things in Science Olympiad and never get caught. I am someone who believes that honesty should be rewarded, so I think that it's a shame that, in exchange for being honest, you were prohibited from going to nationals. You should take pride in the fact that you made the right choice, even if it was the hard one and the one with consequences.
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Re: Massachusetts 2017

Postby nejanimb » May 22nd, 2017, 12:18 pm

To clarify – the 2017 MA state champion is now Newton High School South.

I’m one of the folks that handles scoring the MA Science Olympiad State Tournament, but my thoughts here are my own and are not official statements from MA SciOly. I’ll avoid saying too much about the actual cheating involved here since it’s been acknowledged and is so clear cut in its wrongness. I will say that I think it’s good of you to post on this topic here @Kenniky, and personally I thought the punishments levied thus far have been very mild if anything. In particular, I know everyone is sorry for the miserable and difficult situation this put the Newton South team in.

One thing I find challenging about MA SciOly relative to other state organizations I’m familiar with (PA, VA, CA) is that MA does even more to distinguish their local tournaments vs. nationals and really strongly emphasizes giving Event Supervisors power to make their own decisions in how they run their events. There are benefits to both of those approaches, but I’m of the opinion that we are probably too quick to break with what the national organization has set out, because we expose ourselves to unforeseen consequences. Splitting the test and build portions of these events is one example, but this year’s tournament had other issues too (helicopters, experimental design, etc.) that were driven by challenging decisions made by event supervisors.

All that is to say – there are some ways things could be better for teams (and we’re working on it), but running a tournament is hard, and willful cheating from participants makes it even harder.
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Re: Massachusetts 2017

Postby kenniky » May 22nd, 2017, 2:15 pm

nejanimb wrote:To clarify – the 2017 MA state champion is now Newton High School South.

I’m one of the folks that handles scoring the MA Science Olympiad State Tournament, but my thoughts here are my own and are not official statements from MA SciOly. I’ll avoid saying too much about the actual cheating involved here since it’s been acknowledged and is so clear cut in its wrongness. I will say that I think it’s good of you to post on this topic here @Kenniky, and personally I thought the punishments levied thus far have been very mild if anything. In particular, I know everyone is sorry for the miserable and difficult situation this put the Newton South team in.

One thing I find challenging about MA SciOly relative to other state organizations I’m familiar with (PA, VA, CA) is that MA does even more to distinguish their local tournaments vs. nationals and really strongly emphasizes giving Event Supervisors power to make their own decisions in how they run their events. There are benefits to both of those approaches, but I’m of the opinion that we are probably too quick to break with what the national organization has set out, because we expose ourselves to unforeseen consequences. Splitting the test and build portions of these events is one example, but this year’s tournament had other issues too (helicopters, experimental design, etc.) that were driven by challenging decisions made by event supervisors.

All that is to say – there are some ways things could be better for teams (and we’re working on it), but running a tournament is hard, and willful cheating from participants makes it even harder.

Hi there,

Nice of you to comment, and sorry for all the trouble we caused :b

Not sure if you can do this, but in the future, could the State Tournament be a little more proactive in releasing rules clarifications such as these earlier (I think the official website says a two week notice in advance is recommended)? I know that Helicopters also had a bit of a run-in with a rule vaguely banning kits that had been posted less than a week before the actual competition. I think this would be really helpful for ensuring that the state competition runs smoothly (or at least more smoothly)

Thanks! Hope to see AB do well again next year :)

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Re: Massachusetts 2017

Postby nejanimb » May 22nd, 2017, 3:17 pm

10,000% agreed -- keep rule changes/clarifications to a minimum and post them with as much notice as possible! Will do what I can =).
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Re: Massachusetts 2018

Postby sluelway1973 » May 25th, 2017, 8:07 am

What is the procedure for registering for the MIT?

We are a west coast team and we are looking to go

Thanks

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Re: Massachusetts 2018

Postby Unome » May 25th, 2017, 8:18 am

sluelway1973 wrote:What is the procedure for registering for the MIT?

We are a west coast team and we are looking to go

Thanks

MIT registration will usually open in mid-September. Last year they set a specific time. Registration closed within 40 minutes and all two-team spots (they limited it) were gone within 2 minutes.

Just wondering, what team are you from?
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Re: Massachusetts 2017

Postby sluelway1973 » May 25th, 2017, 8:28 am

Ed W. Clark High School. We are really upping our game and we need a higher level of competition so we are planning on Golden Gate and MIT for next year.

Do they open a website with information beforehand?

Thanks again

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Re: Massachusetts 2017

Postby bernard » May 25th, 2017, 8:30 am

sluelway1973 wrote:Ed W. Clark High School. We are really upping our game and we need a higher level of competition so we are planning on Golden Gate and MIT for next year.

Do they open a website with information beforehand?

Thanks again

Their website is usually online but for a while it has been down. I imagine they will relaunch when their season starts.
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Re: Massachusetts 2017

Postby Unome » May 25th, 2017, 8:33 am

sluelway1973 wrote:Ed W. Clark High School. We are really upping our game and we need a higher level of competition so we are planning on Golden Gate and MIT for next year.

Do they open a website with information beforehand?

Thanks again

Hope to see you there next year! It was pretty fun to see your team do well at Nationals this year - which I (sort of) predicted #humblebrag :)
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Re: Massachusetts 2017

Postby sluelway1973 » May 25th, 2017, 8:44 am

Thanks we appreciate it. The goal is much higher. What school are you from?

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Re: Massachusetts 2017

Postby Unome » May 25th, 2017, 9:01 am

sluelway1973 wrote:Thanks we appreciate it. The goal is much higher. What school are you from?

I'm from Chattahoochee (as in my sig). Sadly we didn't do as well as we were aiming for :(
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Re: Massachusetts 2017

Postby kenniky » May 25th, 2017, 9:04 am

sluelway1973 wrote:Ed W. Clark High School. We are really upping our game and we need a higher level of competition so we are planning on Golden Gate and MIT for next year.

Do they open a website with information beforehand?

Thanks again

Generally an MIT thread will pop up on its own, separate from the MA thread, so just keep an eye out for that I suppose


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