Common Questions

Below are answers to common questions related to the Ohio Science Olympiad program and tournaments.

What is Science Olympiad?

Science Olympiad is a pay-to-play academic competition for teams of up to 15 students that compete in 23 different events. The events span scientific disciplines including physics, chemistry, biology, earth science, engineering, inquiry, and space science.

There are three divisions:

  • Division A: Elementary school teams, typically grades K-6

  • Division B: Middle school teams, typically grades 6-9

  • Division C: High school teams, typically grades 9-12

Division A teams only compete in small regional competitions, as there is no statewide competition for elementary teams. In Ohio, Divisions B and C must compete in regional and state tournaments in order to advance to the national level.

You can find additional details about Science Olympiad on the national website.

Who makes up a Science Olympiad team?

Teams are comprised of up to 15 students, though it is allowable to have fewer. An adult, often a teacher at the school or a parent, serves as the coach. The coach acts as the official contact between the Ohio Science Olympiad state office and the team.

Teams that are well balanced with students across all eligible grades are typically more successful than those that load up on students in higher grades. There are limits on the number of students that can be on each team. The following policies apply:

  • Only seven (7) seniors per team are permitted in Division C

  • Only five (5) ninth graders per team are permitted in Division B

  • A middle school may invite up to five (5) ninth-grade students from the previous year's enrollment of eighth-grade students for the Division B team. Ninth graders may only participate on one team (Division B or Division C), but not both.

If a school has multiple teams, Science Olympiad recommends that the best team or at least the best members from the school be permitted to advance to the next level of competition. No school, region, or state Science Olympiad organization is allowed to alter or amend these national membership requirements.

Do teams have to pay or join the National Science Olympiad organization in addition to the Ohio Science Olympiad program?

A team’s Ohio Science Olympiad membership fee includes the National Science Olympiad fee. Once a team is registered with Ohio Science Olympiad, the state office forwards its membership to the national organization.

Find additional details about membership on the Ohio Program Registration page.

How do I start a team?

Find details on how to start a Science Olympiad team on the Ohio Program Registration page.

Can I form a team with students from other schools?

No; super team formation is not permitted. A super team occurs when students from multiple schools form a single team.

If my primary enrollment is a middle school, but I take classes at a local high school, on which Science Olympiad team can I participate?

You may only participate on the school team where you are "primarily enrolled". Primary enrollment at a school will be determined by what school holds the student's records and matriculates the student; a student may only be primarily enrolled at a single school.

Can students earn medals even if the team does poorly?

Yes. Event awards are based on the individual performance of the students, independent of the overall team. The team accumulates points from every individual event, this score determines the rank of the team overall.

May I purchase Ohio Invitational Tournament tests?

No; Ohio does not accept offers of registration/non-participation for a fee. Tests used during invitationals in Ohio will only be provided to teams that attend and participate in that particular event.

Is there a limit to the number of teams that may register from a single school?

No. A school may register as many teams as it would like, but each team must have its own coach and must pay a separate registration fee. However, only one team from a single school can advance to the state or national competition.  

Please note: Only one team is guaranteed participation in regional tournaments. All second teams will be wait-listed; any additional teams will only be allowed to participate in invitational tournaments.

What is the Science Olympiad cancellation/refund policy?

View the Ohio Science Olympiad cancellation and refund policy on the Ohio Program Registration page.

What is included in the Ohio Registration Fee?

Ohio registration fees include the following:

  • National and State Science Olympiad affiliation
  • An electronic copy of the Science Olympiad Rules Manual
  • Eligibility to participate in any Science Olympiad activities (i.e.. Invitational Tournaments) throughout the country (additional fees may apply)
  • Eligibility to participate in an Ohio Regional Tournament*
  • No additional registration fee for teams advancing to the State and National level Tournaments
  • Opportunity to win academic scholarships (more than $3M offered to date)

*Please note: Only two teams per school are eligible to participate in an Ohio Regional Tournament, regardless of the number of teams a single school has registered.

Common Questions About Tournaments

Below are answers to common questions related to Ohio Science Olympiad tournaments.

What do Science Olympiad tournaments look like?

Science Olympiad competitions are like academic track meets, consisting of 23 team events in each division (Division B is middle school; Division C is high school). Ohio has eight regional tournaments across the state that allow teams the opportunity to advance to the state tournament and the national tournament.

Each year, some of the events are rotated to reflect the ever-changing nature of genetics, earth science, chemistry, anatomy, physics, geology, mechanical engineering, and technology.

Much like traditional athletic competitions, Science Olympiad requires preparation, commitment, coaching, and practice throughout the year. Each school-based team is allowed to bring 15 students trained for a variety of events.

Do teams have to compete in all 23 events?

No. Accumulated team scores are based on the performance from the individual events. First-year teams will likely compete in many, but not all, of the events. However, it is difficult to advance from regionals to the state tournament without competing in every event.

Any event in which a team does not compete is considered to be a "Did Not Show" and will be given a score equivalent to the last place team + 1 point. Example: If 20 teams compete in a tournament, and a team does not compete in Picture This, they will be given 21 points for that event. Lowest number of points determines the overall ranking of the team.

How many students can compete in each event? Can multiple sets of students compete in each event?

With 15 students and 23 events, there is a bit of chaos as students go from one event to the next. Each of the events are designed to be an event for two, three, or four students, though most events only allow two students.

Each team is allowed to compete in each EVENT only once. While four students may desperately want to do Bottle Rockets, only two will be allowed because this event only allows two students to work on a single bottle rocket device. If there is a great deal of interest, form a second team and then the second team (independent of the first) is allowed to enter another set of 23 events.

Additionally, pairs of students do not have to remain connected at the hip throughout the entire day. They can switch partners with other students on the same team as often as needed. Student 1 can be with Student 2 in Picture This, and then race off to do Bottle Rockets later in the day with Student 3.

How is it determined which teams advance to the state and national tournaments?

Advancing to the state or national tournaments is based on the team’s overall performance. In Ohio, each region is assigned a set number of teams that will advance to the state tournament. The assigned team numbers are determined by the total number of teams invited to campus (40 in each division), divided by the total number of registered teams (100) in the division. That number is then multiplied by total teams that participated (20) in that specific regional tournament, resulting in the number of teams qualifying for that division (eg. 40/100x20=8).

Nationally, the first place team from both divisions in each state is invited to the National Tournament. With that in mind, it is important to compete in as many events as possible. If a team does not compete in one or two events, it may be impossible to progress to the next level.

We stress the following: If this is your first year - come and have fun! Do as many events as possible and don't worry about getting to the next level.

What is an impound event?

Impound events require team-built devices to be checked in before the competition begins. These events are indicated in the rules and will show "Impound: Yes."

The event supervisor will inspect the device for construction violations and return it to the team at its assigned time to compete with the device. This process is designed to prevent teams from seeing what others have done and make last-minute modifications that would benefit them.

Can alternates impound devices for official competitors?

No. According the the national organization all pre-built devices presented for judging must be constructed, impounded, and operated by one or more of the 15 current team members.

Please note: It is advised to check the rules, as impound may vary at different tournament levels. Neither parents nor teachers can impound devices for students.

May I purchase invitational tournament tests?

No; Ohio does not accept offers of registration/non-participation for a fee. Tests used during Invitationals in Ohio may only be provided to teams that attend and participate in that particular event.