What are Science Olympics?
It is a series of problem solving events that are fun to do and require students to apply their knowledge of science in creative ways. Students work in teams rather than individually.
What is its purpose?
The purpose is to promote science problem solving and teamwork among students. You don’t have to be a top student to be creative and have good problem solving skills. The activities are designed so that most students can get involved, be successful, and have fun.
How can I do it?
1. Be aware that there are basically two kinds of Science Olympics events:
a) Pre-Planned Event(s):
Students have all the details about the event(s) before the day of competition. For example the event might require one or all of the following: researching for a quiz or the design and construction of a poster, a wooden bridge out of toothpicks, or a free-falling egg drop.
b) Spontaneous Event(s):
The details of these events are only outlined on the day of competition, i.e. science trivia
2. The events selected for the Olympics determine the level of organization that will be necessary. Each event should clearly state its objective, as well as provide the judging criteria, rules and regulations. Try to choose events that are well suited to the participants. Science Olympics is designed to be challenging, educational, and above all, – fun. Making the events too easy would offer little challenge. Events that are too difficult will cause most students to despair or simply to give up.
3. The location of the events is important to the organization of the Science Olympics. Often, the location is dependent on the nature of the events. At the elementary level, it is often easiest to hold the events in one or more classrooms, depending on the number of participants. The teams simply rotate among the classrooms in a predetermined route and for predetermined time periods.
4. The required materials for each event should be minimal so try to make use of everyday household items whenever possible.
4. You may want to provide games, books, music, computers, etc. for any participants who for any reason are unable to compete, for the day would become boring for them after some time. Encourage them to act as an audience or as helpers for the teacher (facilitator).
5. Finally, judging is often an integral part of Science Olympics. If each teacher (facilitator) is responsible for the design, setup and execution of an event, then they also could be responsible for providing the teams with their group score. As teams rotate through the stations, they receive their team score at each event, written and initialed by the teacher. At the conclusion of the Olympics, the teams may gather in the gym or any other large area for presentation of awards. This does not have to be done on the same day as the events. You may wish to save it for the next day, giving you, the judges, and the teachers time to tally the points and be ready for the presentation of winners. It is always a good idea to ask participants, judges and spectators to contribute ideas to your next Olympics. Next year, you should eliminate some events as you add new ones.
How can I adapt it?
Building a Rube-Goldberg Machine is a team problem-solving activity that can be a great deal of fun. For more information, see the Rube Goldberg website.