Starting A Science Olympiad Team
A Science Olympiad team is a great challenge to start up at first. There is a lot of work to be done, and it is a very arduous, yet very rewarding, process.
Remember, it is not necessary to have a full team the first year! The team can start off with just 2-3 members; there is no lower limit on members, only an upper one. A team is not required to participate in all events.
Things To Do
- Familiarize yourself with the competition format and policies of Science Olympiad
- Obtain a coach
- Register on your regional website
- If you are unsure about how to go about this, or if no regional exists, contact your state director (from the state website) for information
- Get a copy of the rules from the SOINC website
- Recruit members!
- Obtain funding, either from the school or fundraisers
- Have a leadership structure. Captains are generally used. It is important that you have someone (or several someones) in charge, so that things can actually get done and not turn into a mass of anarchy.
Coaches do not have to be teachers in the science or even mathematics departments; anyone who is willing to dedicate their time for your team can be a coach! If there are no school administrators who are willing to coach, a parent can also serve as a coach, but the team cannot be officially associated with the school.
- Messages on notice boards, announcements, banners, posters
- FOOD for introductory meetings and late meetings
- Tell current members to spread the word!
Advice From Various Members of Scioly.org
EASTstroudsburg13: "...if your school doesn't have a team right now, it's going to take time to become successful...If no teacher in your school is willing to put some effort into the team, you can see if you can find someone who doesn't work at the school to run the team. It doesn't even technically have to be a science teacher, just someone who is willing to hold meetings and fill out the paperwork that is required to run the team.
If you do find someone, then you can go building your team. You may not get a full team of 15, but that is perfectly okay for your first year. Even something as low as 7 or even 5 at regionals would be better than nothing. Even if you don't participate in all the events, the experience can go a long way in helping the team be successful in the future. Just make sure that your team isn't made up of entirely seniors so that next year you don't have to start from scratch. A big part of the first two or three years is just building the club and helping it find a niche in the school.
In regards to fun, try to do things with the team that aren't necessarily science-related. (Food is always good.) If people like science but don't have a connection with their teammates, they may not enjoy it very much, but people who enjoy being around their teammates are more likely to continue with the team.
Other problems you may face include deciding events (especially if your Regionals schedule comes out late) and deciding on the competition team, though you most likely won’t face this problem in the first few years."
- "1. Get all the logistics out of the way as soon as possible. Have them fill out a form, saying what events they want and the like. Make sure that t-shirts are bought and paid for, and get parent volunteers. Lots and lots of volunteers, especially because your teacher is distancing him/herself from your team. Figure out a cost for joining the team so you can pay for stuff. Assign events and check for event conflicts with the regional schedule. Conflicts are baddd. Mentors and sponsors are also great.
- 2. Make sure that they're committed. If they aren't committed, then there isn't much point in you trying to tell them what to do. Don't be afraid to tell them that it's a lot of work, and it's great if you can be there to help them too. At the beginning of every meeting, lay down expectations. Say stuff like "Today, we're gonna do blahblahblahb..." Show that you're in charge. Unless you actually aren't. Then ignore this entire post. Especially build teams. Deadlines + build teams = happy you.
- 3. Food. I think it's self-explanatory.
- 4. You need to have fun too. It's only fun when everyone's having fun. So enjoy yourself, laugh, etc.
- 5. Encourage everyone to help each other, even for different events. Create a facebook group or email group or something. Evoke a sense of family and community.
Regionals, have carpools or something. If your school has their own buses, see if you can get one of those. Get a spot for your school ASAP and claim it. Be proud. Bring lots of food and volunteers, and always be there to help when you're not competing yourself! Show lots and lots and lots of school pride. Good luck with your team!"
zyzzyva98: "Once you get your team started down the runway, it's surprisingly easy to get air beneath your wings and take off. Unfortunately, getting on the runway is the hardest part. You will only begin to succeed with a core of dedicated participants. Find other people in your grade who have a genuine interest in science. Tell them about how exciting Science Olympiad can be (it can be really exciting). Once you get the core together, it's all about the effort you put in.
How much do you want it? I know it sounds cliche, but it's a good encapsulation of what the competition aspect of Science Olympiad is about. If you want to win, you have to work hard enough to win. Science Olympiad is like physics- work in = work out. For example, when i heard the rival cross-town team was staying to practice everyday until 5:00, I stayed everyday until 5:01. It's about dedicating yourself to being the best you can be.
The most efficient way to spend your time, bar none, is taking practice tests. You can study all you want, but the best way to gain experience and knowledge is by taking those tests. When you study, you study things that you are already aware of- that you have thought about looking up. When you take a practice test, there is a very good chance there will be something on there that you have never thought about before. Your knowledge has expanded. That's why practice tests are such a vital resource. In your first few years you may not be able to afford to go to invitationals. If this is the case, take advantage of the many resources scioly.org has to offer- question marathons, and of course, our test exchange, the largest easily-accessible stockpile of Science Olympiad tests in the world.
Starting a team may sound like a daunting task, but remember- physics has many real-world applications. If you just apply a constant force to the mass that is your Science Olympiad team, you will begin to gain momentum, and your velocity will increase at an ever-present rate. Keep the force on the mass, and watch your team take off."