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Hi, it looks like you landed on my page! I'm gz839918, and I'm fascinated in how the world works, but also how people think about how the world works—in other words, I like physics and cognitive science. I'm a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I'm studying physics and linguistics. Outside of my usual areas of interest, I still enjoy learning new things in ecology and in various social sciences. Despite my experience with physics events, I am still incredibly terrible at classical mechanics.

Science Olympiad is about people, not about winning! Indeed, science is about people, not winning, because science is the scaffolding of humanity—a skyscraper in ceaseless upward construction built to carry the common good of people. If you like helping people, so do I! So, if you'd like to talk about science or people or both, please don't hesitate to message me. (If you hesitate, you can still contact me anyways!)

Oh, and for those reading this for my credentials—I made it to states exactly once; I've been to nationals exactly once; I was the only senior member in my year to medal in nothing at nationals; and I've only competed for two years. You know—the usual thoroughfare.

gz839918 competed for Carmel High School.

Division D

Some of the things I've volunteered for 
Season Purpose Location Date Role
2019-20 Carmel High School tryouts Carmel, IN October 1-5, 2019 Sounds of Music C writer
North Carolina coaches' clinic Raleigh, NC October 6, 2019 Sounds of Music C volunteer
Orlando Science Schools Invitational C Orlando, FL November 23, 2019 Sounds of Music C writer
Raymond Park Invitational Indianapolis, IN December 14, 2019 Sounds of Music C supervisor
Raymond Park Invitational Indianapolis, IN December 14, 2019 Machines B/C test reviewer
Duke Invitational Durham, NC January 18, 2020 Sounds of Music C supervisor
Southern California Regional CA (South) It's a secret ;) Water Quality B/C writer
Raleigh Regional Raleigh, NC February 1, 2020 Sounds of Music C co-contributor
Southern Wake Regional Garner, NC March 7, 2020 Sounds of Music C supervisor
2020-21 North Carolina coaches' clinic Online/Raleigh, NC October 3, 2020 Volunteer
BEARSO's Exciting and Revamped Science Olympiad Online/California October 10, 2020 Sounds of Music C last moment co-writer
Carmel High School tryouts Carmel, IN October 19-24, 2020 Sounds of music C writer
UT Invitational Online/Austin, TX October 23-24, 2020 Density Lab B and Water Quality B/C test reviewer
NCSO Invitational Online/Raleigh, NC December 5, 2020 Sounds of Music C writer
Duke Invitational Online/Durham, NC January 30, 2021 Sounds of Music C co-writer
Yale Invitational Online/New Haven, CT February 6, 2021 Circuit Lab C test reviewer
North Carolina regionals Online/Raleigh, NC February 20, 2021 Sounds of Music C writer and co-supervisor
Menomonie Invitational Online/Menomonie, WI March 13, 2021 Density Lab B test reviewer
Florida states Online/Gainesville, FL March 27, 2021 Sounds of Music C co-writer (with Riptide)
North Carolina states Online/Raleigh, NC April 24, 2021 Sounds of Music C writer
Arizona State University 2021 Online/Tempe, AZ May 19, 2021 Machines C assistant supervisor
2021-22 UT Invitational Online/Austin, TX October 30, 2021 Sounds of Music B and Data Science C test reviewer
Carolina Science Olympiad (UNC) invitational Chapel Hill, NC January 29-30, 2022 Astronomy C co-writer and Trajectory C assistant
Writer means I only wrote the test, but could not proctor it. Contributor means that I contributed test questions, but my role was not significant.

Most of the images and graphics I use in test questions are my own. You may consider any content that I made in a test to be public domain, unless noted otherwise. Most images that I use in tests, but aren't my own, are already in the public domain anyways. If a test includes copyrighted content under fair use, I attribute the copyright holder to the best of my ability. (This has only happened once, for 2019-20 water quality.) If you don't know the copyright status of work used in my tests, ask me! I'm happy if the files sitting on my computer can be useful for somebody. Regional/state tests are not necessarily fully in the public domain. As of 2020 October 25, the BEARSO test is not in the public domain.


  • Raymond Park 2019-20: in the solutions, Mach should be capitalized.
  • Duke 2020-21: in the solution for problem 7, the sentence beginning "For a sinusoidal wave" should have all instances of (B) replaced with (C). The correct answer choice to this question remains the same.
  • General clarification about noise: with respect to sound, noise can have two definitions. In the first definition, noise is a wave with a stochastic frequency distribution. So, the more randomness in a sound, the noisier it is. This also means that noise can occur at the same time as "not noise" and still be, mostly, "not noise." For example, even the clearest, most crisply recorded audio of a note on a guitar may have a tiny amount of white noise in the background, but this does not mean the note is noise rather than music. In the second definition, noise is a wave that obscures another wave carrying useful information, but adds no useful information of its own. This means that noise can occur across time interspersed with "not noise" and still be "not noise." For example, the consonant [s] consists entirely of noise (in the first definition), but human speech containing [s] is not considered noise (in the second definition) when it carries meaningful information.

Did you uncover any typos or errors in one of my tests? If you'd like to discuss, I'd appreciate it if you could let me know! You can find me on my talk page, through private message, or one of the many other ways people can be found. On the version of each test on the test exchange, I have rectified as many errors as I can find; errata not listed on the test exchange are provided here above. You can also give anonymous feedback on my tests.


Do FPOWs benefit from attending the NC State tournament?

In 2019, the average Div. C FPOW had a placement of 21.737 (= 1239 / 57)

Interestingly, this means that FPOWs on average perform better than the average state-qualifying team in North Carolina (= 25.5). I assume no-shows for teams will be ranked below last place down to 50th when calculating my average for state-qualifying teams. This is to simplify calculation, but it is not unreasonable to believe that teams unable to participate in an event due to lack of interest or membership would probably worse in that particular event than teams who did participate. "Unreasonable," though, doesn't mean correct.

It is likewise possible that FPOWs that do not opt to attend the state tournament will perform worse than the average state-qualifying team. However, the conclusion still remains true that of those who do compete, the FPOW program is valuable in offering a second opportunity to students who show promise in an event.

Average Division C FPOW scores for past years:

Year Average Total non-FPOW teams at states in NC
2021 16.429 (= 230 / 14) 55
2019 21.737 (= 1239 / 57) 50
2017 21.653 (= 2057 / 95) 49
2016 21.417 (= 2206 / 103) 46
2015 23.209 (= 1555 / 67) 48
2014 19.743 (= 1619 / 82) 48
2011 20.030 (= 1322 / 66) 39
2006 20.344 (= 590 / 29) 44

No-shows excluded in calculation of average; trial events included in average.

What is typically tested on a good circuit lab test?

Not everybody agrees on what makes a test high quality, nor do I believe all the tests listed below are high quality. It turns out that tests from well-regarded tournaments may differ notably. (Did you notice that one-fourth of points for the Princeton circuit lab test comes from recall questions?)

I struggled with op amps as a competitor, and after hearing from other students, it seems like two major stumbling points are op amps in addition to PN-junctions. If you want to practice these topics, the table can point you towards some tests that address these topics in particular.

All of these tests below are from the 2018-19 season (not 2019-20).

Test Points for MC/word bank/matching Recall (short ans.) Understanding (FRQ)1 Lab Points for op amps2 Points for PN-junctions2 Total points
Troy Invitational 8 3 89 82? (unclear) 3 85 182
Solon HS tryouts 0 16 84 N/A 4 8 100
Princeton 25 34 69 ? 10 20 128
Battle at Valley Forge 4 4 12 13 1 2 33
Rice 11 0 45 20 12 7 76
Mira Loma Invitational 11 2 27 10 2 18 50
Cerritos Invitational 10 5 10 6 0 3 31
Sylvania Northview Invitational 44 0 23 25 1 1 92
1. Math, explanations, descriptions, comparison, concepts. If a question could be answered from recall but probably wasn't supposed to be (for example, unlikely to be memorized), then I categorized it as an FRQ.
2. Including laboratory section

Do larger universities hold more teams per tournament?

Venue Rooms on campus Most teams hosted Typical room capacity
IU Bloomington 337 classrooms 120 teams (B/C), but usually 72 56.4 seats (point estimate)
MIT 158 classrooms 76 teams (C)
Wright State 122 classrooms 120 teams (B/C) 49.7 seats (average)
UW-Stout 90 classrooms (how!?) 120 teams (B/C) 38 seats (average)
University of Minnesota 539 classrooms 27 teams (B) 59.4 seats (average)
Harvard 450 classroooms 46 teams (C)
Princeton 228 classrooms 56 teams (C) 33.7 seats (point estimate)
The Ohio State University 328 classrooms 108 teams (B/C), but usually 80 54.6 seats (point estimate)
Texas A&M 213 classrooms 60 teams (B/C)
Bethel College 100 classrooms 33 teams (C) 36.0 seats (average)

Lounges, dining halls, non-lecture performance halls have been excluded if possible. Special department-only classrooms are included.

How do SciOly alumni create a web presence?

Organization Primary content delivery Domain Non-custom domain name Squarespace Custom .org Squarespace Custom .com Squarespace Custom .com In-house Custom .org Google Sites Custom .org Wix Custom .org In-house? Custom .com In-house? Custom .org Squarespace Custom .org Weebly Corporate domain, custom subdomain WordPress University domain, no subdomain N/A In-house, serverless with Jekyll University domain, custom subdomain WordPress University domain, custom subdomain WordPress University domain, custom subdomain Wix Corporate domain, custom subdomain .wixsite.com1 Squarespace Custom .org WordPress Corporate domain, custom subdomain Google Sites Corporate domain, no subdomain N/A Google Sites Corporate domain, no subdomain N/A Wix Corporate domain, custom subdomain .wixsite.com1 Weebly Custom .net WordPress Corporate domain, custom subdomain WordPress Custom .com WordPress University domain, no subdomain N/A WordPress University domain, no subdomain N/A In house, with WebPack University domain, custom subdomain

1. For reasons I can't understand, Wix sites under the domain give a 404 error when no path follows the ".com"; that is, typing in "" without the quotes doesn't work.


Are the best teams located in urban or suburban school districts? Actually, it depends.

Book review: Despite the best intentions. Amanda Lewis & John Diamond. 2015.

On replaying events as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. (In hindsight, I can't imagine how much more difficult it would've been adapting to new formats with entirely unfamiliar rules.)

Stress and pressure.

Re:Why are these events?