PREPARING FOR THE STATE EVENT
Contact the director and associate director often
You have already been provided training materials and connected with an ES “mentor” who will help with technical questions related to your event. If you have additional questions regarding when to arrive and set up, when the tournament will conclude, how long the exam sessions will last, how many teams to expect, if there is anyone else that expressed interest in helping with your event, what level is expected (high school, middle school or both), and how the room is set up please contact the Associate Director. Ensure we have the easiest email to communicate with you.
Enlist support from students and staff
You should have at least two assistants helping with the test. Some events require many more to grade and enter scores effectively. As the event supervisor you will need to observe the students to ensure they are obeying the Science Olympiad rules. The assistants will be busy grading tests or setting up the next round of stations between sessions and reporting the results to you for entry onto the form. Recruit assistants early so they can assist with creating and reviewing the test. You also have the option to ask for volunteers from the hosting campus. Make sure you are in communication with your volunteers (even if from hosting campus) so they are well versed in what you expect them to help with on tournament day.
Gather specimens and other materials
Depending on the event you may have to gather equipment and materials. Plan and do this ahead of time. It is also possible to ask for materials to be provided by the hosting campus to minimize hauling it yourself.
Develop test and answer sheet
- Gear the exams toward a junior-level college audience (Div C) or junior level high school audience (Div B) Write questions with a wide range of difficulty. While you don’t want anyone earning 100% on the exam, you also want enough easy questions that even the least prepared student will be able to answer a few. The average should be about 50%, the high score in the 85-90% range and the low score in the 10-20% range. The top few scores should be spread out enough that they are not determined by tiebreakers. Several of the most difficult questions may reach far beyond the level of the students. Provide opportunities for the strongest teams to demonstrate their strengths.
- Answer sheets are the easiest way to grade and are required. Provide one page answer sheet that teams write their answers on. Make clear announcements at the beginning of each session that answers need to be on the answer sheet to be graded.
- A majority of the questions should be fill in the blank. True/False are too easy for guessing and Multiple Choice allows more chances for a lucky guess. There may be no ties after all the tests are graded so fill in the blank questions allow more room to sort out the leader in a tie. Answers that are spelled correctly or are more thorough can be given tie breaker fractions of a point.
- Answers for questions that require a narrative description need to be very clear, key points to be addressed and those key points need to be clearly identified in the answer sheet for the exam. This is necessary to help eliminate bias or clarify any possible miscommunication by the person grading the exam (who may NOT be you!).
- You will submit your exam to Nicole Hanutke, associate director, (firstname.lastname@example.org) by Feb 28th for review. Feedback will be given by March 15th to make any final adjustments.
- In a station-based exam, students rotate through stations and answer questions. The number of stations should be based on the time allowed. Since the test session is 50 minutes, there is time for 10 x 4.5-minute stations. This format gives time to provide a short instructional talk.
- To make scoring easier, a test should be set up for at least 100 points. Some questions can be worth more than one point depending on difficulty. Do not try to separate out questions into fractions of a point, this complicates scoring.
- Tie breaker questions are each given 0.1 points to avoid the test bumping up and tying with the next higher test. Have a few tie breakers ready, but use them in the same order when needed.
- Test should be difficult enough to avoid a large number of teams getting high scores. Shoot for high scores of 90% and low scores of 10% percent correct. Ideally no team should get a perfect score or a zero. If the test is too easy it will be harder to have a good spread of scores and more ties may occur. A gaussian distribution is not desired, a linear distribution is. There should be several questions that test the best to create separation, and there should be some basic questions to provide weaker teams an opportunity to score some points.
- Exam questions for each station should be placed in a document protector and taped inside a manila folder onto a table in the exam room. This allows the students to sit at a station and not see the questions while waiting for the test to begin. Hanging folders with metal edges work well to keep the folders closed before the test begins. Teams do not have to close the folders after the test begins.
- Don’t be afraid to make longer stations, too! This comes with practice. The best students should have a few minutes to wait between stations and the ones that need more practice should be challenged during the full time at each station.
- You will be asked to return the tests and answers to the tournament director for review. It is important that the questions and answers are clear and grading is fair to avoid appeals. It also identifies to everyone involved the importance to create new exams each and every time.
Attend 2-3 Regional or Invitational tournaments
- This will have to be a different exam than what is used at state, but it gives a great opportunity to see how your exam performs and note any adjustments that you want to make before state. Overall this will strengthen our organization and your role as event supervisor.
- Let Nicole H know ASAP which regionals/invitations you would like to attend. You’re more than welcome to participate in more than 2-3 if you want!