August: Planning begins! Event rules are being completed by National SO committee but the event list will be available on both the NSO and WSO websites. NSO has 23 events on their schedule for both Division B and Division C. In Wisconsin we offer 28 events in both divisions. We choose 5 additional events to spread out the event possibilities a little farther and potentially give some students and teams not only more variety in event selection but also more opportunity to earn individual medals. Our state website will be updated in August with the event slate we plan to run.
Seek school approval for a WSO team
Register the team on the our website
Promote the team - hang posters, signs, and banners
Plan the year - select a date for an organizational/informational gathering with students and another date for a parent meeting a bit later in the fall
September: Event rules are available to download! Read event rules carefully. Regional and Invitational tournaments are posted on the WSO website. You will be assigned to a regional, but you have the option to attend as many Invitationals as you wish and can even see if there are openings at other regionals as well.
Hold an “open house/interest meeting” to showcase the different events offered. Consider having students fill out interest forms with events they want to compete in.
Choose which students will compete in each event or have students help decide.
Watch for the WSO state tournament schedule to see the distribution of events. This will help students determine which events they want to compete in. For example if a student is interested in Disease Detectives and Food Science but they are in the same time slot then the student will have to choose one event - they cannot compete in both.
Provide copies of event rules to students if you have not done so already.
Begin gathering resources, study materials, supplies, and mentors. Build a library of information for each event.
Recruit Event Coaches - Parents, teachers, college professors, industry experts, etc that can help in the various events
Have students develop a practice schedule
September through November: If you’re able to organize the students and get them started preparing for their events then they can make use of holiday breaks to practice and perfect their events. Don’t worry if you are still gathering students to make your team. Many schools are still working on this too and some don’t register until close to the deadline in November.
Contact the Invitational and any extra Regionals that you wish to attend. Remember some Invitationals have an extra fee to participate, but the more practice your team can get the better prepared they will be. Many teams attend as many of these tournaments as possible and find it almost impossible to be competitive if they only attend the one regional and state.
NOTE: There is often an Invitational in November!!!
Ask your yearbook supervisor to take a team photo for the school yearbook
Begin fundraising to help cover various expenses
Attend a nearby coaches clinic. Currently Wisconsin doesn’t have one, but Illinois (Great Lakes) and Michigan have some available.
Plan team dinners or a “team night” (with food/snacks)
December through January: This is when most of the Invitational tournaments happen.
Test and measure devices
Prepare paperwork for regional tournaments
Permission slips as well as Medical Release, Publicity Waiver, Team Roster, etc
Our website has some template forms that you can use or tweak to your school’s needs
Organize transportation to the regional tournament
Optional: Begin brainstorming a t-shirt design. Order shirts early enough to wear at state (possibly regionals too)
NOTE: There is often a Regional in January!!!!
February through March: There are a couple more Invitationals yet in these last few months, but most of the Regionals happen at this time. This is when all the last minute tweaks and preparation happens. It can be chaotic and highly energetic. Enjoy this time….it means the kids are super excited about what they are doing which is wonderful that they are engaged in STEM activities!!!
Order t-shirts if not already taken care of
Finalize travel arrangements to regionals
Collect permission slips
Practice, practice, practice!
Label all devices with team name and regional team number
April: It’s state tournament time!!! WSO tournament is often in early April (rarely late March). At this time we are rotating between UW-Milwaukee and UW-Stout.
If you are headed to state - CONGRATS!
Continue practicing and make any necessary changes/modifications based on regional performance
Submit paperwork for the state tournament
Any interest in parents volunteering at the tournament? If so, contact Forrest/Nicole H.
If you did not qualify for state - don’t worry….you have learned so much this year and will come back that much stronger next year
You can still volunteer at the state tournament to gain experience and see how it is organized. There is so much to learn!
May: Team(s) competing at nationals have some more preparation to undertake. Otherwise it is a time to wrap up this year and plan for next year.
Hold a team party to celebrate the team’s great work this year
Optional: Hand out awards to the students (MVP, Rookie of the Year, Most Creative, Above and Beyond, etc)
Write Thank You notes to anyone who helped throughout the year (Parents, industry experts, sponsors, or any other volunteers)
June through July: Reevaluate last year and plan for next year. Watch the WSO website for updates. Some events stay the same from year to year and others are retired for a few years to bring back events. Often brand new events appear in the rotation as well.
Keep all of the reference materials collected because even a retired event will resurface after a few years.
Register early for the following year and start getting to work! :-)