Tri-County Science Events

Tri-County STEM Fair

Students in grades 5th-12th in Hillsdale, Lenawee, or Monroe County are eligible to participate in this project-based learning science competition. Using a Scientific Method or an Engineering Design Process, students delve deeper into a concept or idea that interests them and share their learning.

The 2022 Tri-County STEM Fair will be held virtually March 15-17, 2022.

For more information, read the 2022 Tri-County STEM Fair manual.

Registration will open soon.

 

 

Five Easy Steps

  1. Ask a question with a Subject, an Independent Variable, and a Dependent Variable.
    1. Example: What is the effect of the amount of sunlight (IV) on the height (DV) of a sunflower (S)?
  2. Conduct background research to formulate a hypothesis.
    1. Research information about the subject of your questions.
    2. Establish "what is normal" for the dependent variable.
  3. Design and conduct an experiment, recording all data in your handwritten journal.
  4. Analyze data and make conclusions.
  5. Communicate your findings through a display board and research paper.

Creating a Winning Project

Judges look for these characteristics in a winning project:

  • All required parts of a Science Fair project are included
  • Complete data reported in clear graphs, tables, or charts
  • Analysis of data to reach conclusion
  • Correct spelling on the display and in the research paper
  • Project data journal – handwritten, contains all mistakes, spelling not judged
  • Project shows creativity and presents a new concept or a new angle on a problem.  Using a commonly researched topic, one that the judges have seen year after year, is not a good way to win awards.

Tri-County Elementary Science Olympiad

Student teams in 3rd-5th grades in Hillsdale, Lenawee, or Monroe County are eligible to participate in this science competition. The Elementary Science Olympiad encourages group learning by participation in team events, where students are challenged to think creatively to solve problems and answer questions.

The 2020 Tri-County Science Olympiad is scheduled for Tuesday, March 3, 2020 at Siena Heights University.

Coaches meetings are scheduled for November 21, 2019 and December 4, 2019 from 4:00 - 5:00 p.m. at the William J. Ross Education Service Center, 4107 N. Adrian Hwy., Adrian, MI  49221.

Registration is now closed.

To register, complete the 2020 Tri-County Elementary Science Olympiad form.

2020 Science Olympiad Event Overviews

Description: Teams will construct a boat using provided materials which may include straws, craft sticks, plastic wrap, tinfoil, masking tape, and duct tape.  Students will then float their boat in a pan of water. Cargo (to be determined) will be loaded into the hull of the boat one at a time until the boat sinks.

Number of Participants: 2

Approximate Time: 25 minutes

The Competition:

  1. Each team must predict the number of pieces of cargo that their boat will hold and then record their prediction on a given sheet.
  2. Each team will have 10 minutes to construct their boat from the materials provided.
  3. Participants may not practice loading the boat during the building period.
  4. Under the supervision of the event supervisors, teams will load the barge, one piece at a time while the boat is floating in a pan of water, with the pieces of cargo until the boat sinks (Sinking occurs when water enters the boat.)
  5. Record the actual number of pieces of cargo used.  The piece that caused the boat to sink will not count in the total cargo count.

Scoring: Total Points = (# of pieces of cargo held x 10) -- difference between predicted amount and actual amount.

Description: This event tests students’ ability to clearly communicate through writing and following written directions.

Number of Participants: 2

Approximate Time: 55 minutes total

The Competition:

  1. Student 1 will be shown a creation made from an assortment of materials. The student will have 25 minutes to write a description of how to duplicate the creation.
  2. Student 2 will then take the written description and attempt to recreate the original creation in 20 minutes.
  3. No diagrams are allowed and no verbal or other communication is allowed in passing.

Scoring: The 1st place team will be the one in which Student 2 duplicates the creation nearest to the original. A point will be given for each piece of material that is placed in the proper location. No penalty will be assessed for parts that were not assembled. Time may be used as a tiebreaker.

Description: Team members will each construct a paper airplane and fly it as far as possible.  Before the official flight, students will provide an estimate of the total distance their plane will travel.  The material the plane will be constructed with will be shared with the teams at the start of their activity.

Number of Participants: 2

Approximate Time: 25 minutes

The Competition: Construction Phase (Timed, 12 minutes)

  1. No coaches, parents, or spectators in the building area.
  2. The Event Supervisors will inform the teams of the type of plane and the building materials to use for construction at the start of the event.  
  3. School name is to be written on their planes.
  4. During construction phase, teams will record the estimated distance each plane will travel. This is to be done before any practice launches.
  5. The paper may not be wadded up into a paper ball and thrown.
  6. Teams do not need to use all of the supplied materials.

The Competition: Flight Phase

  1. Team members may each take 1 practice flight and make adjustments to their plane.
  2. Teams must inform the Event Supervisor when they are ready for their official flights.
  3. Teams will receive one official flight per member.
  4. All flights will start from the same starting point and from a flat footed position with both feet on the ground. No running/fast walking starts.
  5. The Event Supervisors will measure and record the distance each plane travels. 
  6. Teams must not follow their planes after their official flight. They must wait until the Event Supervisors allow them to retrieve their planes.
  7. Coaches and spectators will be allowed to watch from a safe distance based on space constraints, and only in a designated area.
  8. It is a rules violation if coaches, parents, mentors, or spectators talk to the teams before their official flights.

Scoring

  • The Event Supervisors will rank teams based on the distance the planes traveled. Team individual distances will be added together for each team’s final score.
  • TIEBREAKER: The team with the closest estimate to the actual flight distance will be ranked higher.

Description: Teams will be given materials to build a tower as tall as they can. The tower must be free-standing and it must be taller than it is wide.

Number of Participants: 2

Approximate Time: 25 minutes

The Competition:

  1. Each team will be given identical building materials. The materials may be drinking straws, paper clips, newspaper, spaghetti, aluminum foil, pipe cleaners, or something else. Teams will find out the materials at the start of the competition.
  2. Teams will have 12 minutes to construct the tallest tower possible. Competition may just be the height of the tower or it may include supporting an object at the tower's highest point (yet to be determined).
  3. Upon informing the event supervisors when the team has completed their structure, the supervisors will measure the height of the tower.
  4. If required, the team will then place the object provided by the event supervisor on top of their tower.
  5. The tower must be completely free standing, not attached to anything. Also, it must remain standing long enough for the height and base to be measured.

Scoring: Towers will then be ranked according to their measured height (tallest is first, shortest is last). For object holding events, towers that support the object will be ranked above those that do not.

Description: In this event, students will demonstrate their understanding of basic ecological concepts and ability to identify various reptiles and amphibians found in Michigan.

Number of Participants: 2

Approximate Time: 25 minutes

The Competition:

  1. Teams will rotate through stations where they will be required to answer questions regarding reptiles and amphibians of Michigan.

Scoring: The scoring will be based on the number of correct answers.  Ties will be broken by the accuracy of responses to pre-determined questions.

 

Description: Each team will be given a bag of mystery supplies and told what the team is to build using the given materials.

Number of Participants: 2

Approximate Time: 25 minutes

The Competition:

  1. Teams will have 12 minutes to strategize and build their device/structure.
  2. The completed device may be a freestanding structure or a device which will be used to launch something.

Scoring: Criteria for team placement will be based on how well the completed device performs a given task. The construction time may be used as a tiebreaker.

Description: Students will test their knowledge of meteorological terms, techniques, and events related to weather.

Number of Participants: 2

Approximate Time: 25 minutes

The Competition:

  1. Teams will travel through stations answering questions focused on basic weather terms and techniques.  Materials may include cloud charts, simple weather instruments, weather patterns, severe weather photos, etc.
  2. Questions may include states of water, water cycle, weather terminology, seasonal changes in weather, and types of severe weather watches/warnings.

Scoring: Criteria for team placement will be based on the total number of correct answers.  Ties will be broken by pre-selected questions.

Description: Measurement is a key component in science.  Teams will be asked to either estimate or calculate answers to measurement questions.  Types of measurement may include area, time, speed, height, length, weight, volume, and temperature.

Number of Participants: 2

Approximate Time: 25 minutes

The Competition:

  1. Teams will rotate through stations where they will be asked to look at various items and then estimate and/or find the area, height, length, or weight of objects.
  2. Calculators will not be allowed.  Scrap paper will be provided.
  3. Teams should be familiar with abbreviations such as lbs., oz., mph, ft., yd., cm., etc. in case that is used in a question.

Scoring: The criteria for team placement will be based on the total number of correct answers.  Pre-selected questions will be designated as tiebreakers.

Description: This event is designed to examine students' knowledge and awareness of various animal adaptations and how those adaptations benefit the animals.

Number of Participants: 2

Approximate Time: 25 minutes

The Competition:

  1. Teams will rotate through stations where they will be asked to identify or answer questions about the station focus through models, pictures, diagrams, etc.
  2. Teams should be familiar with how behaviors and body structures help different animals survive in a particular habitat.
  3. Teams will observe adaptations of different animals and be able to identify the habitat that best supports those adaptions including how to get food, how to avoid predators, how to protect their young, and how to survive in different physical environments.

Scoring: The criteria for team placement will be based on the total number of correct answers.  Pre-selected questions will be designated as tiebreakers.

Description: Each team member will construct and fly a paper rocket the farthest distance possible using only the provided materials.

Number of Participants: 2

Approximate Time: 25 minutes

The Competition:

  1. Team members will be given identical materials to construct a paper rocket.
  2. Teams will have a maximum of 12 minutes to construct, test, and refine their rockets.
  3. Each team member will predict how far their rocket will travel and record their predictions on their team score sheet.
  4. When their rockets are completed, teams connect with an event supervisor who will then record the time it took to complete the construction of both rockets.  No adjustments can be made to the rockets after the construction time has been recorded.
  5. Teams will gather to test the flight distance of their rockets.
  6. At the starting line, each team member will fly her/her rocket.
  7. The event supervisor will measure and record the distance from the starting line to the nose of the rocket where it lands.

Scoring:  

  1. Total Point: After each launch, the distance will be measured from the starting line to the nose of the rocket where it lands.  The distance from the target will be part of the team's score.  The two team members' launch distances will be added together to get the total team score.

Ties will be broken based on the difference between the predicted distance and the actual distance.  Teams who are closest to their predictions will be ranked higher.

Construction Materials:

For each rocket, one sheet of 8.5 x 11 paper, round pencil, large plastic soda straw, cellophane tape, scissors, and ruler.

Construction Procedure:

  1. Cut a strip of paper about 8.5 inches (28 cm) and 1 to 2 inches (4 cm) wide.
  2. Roll the paper strip tightly around the pencil lengthwise to form a tube.  Tape the paper along the long edge so that the tube slides easily off the pencil but is not too loose.
  3. Remove the pencil and blow gently into the open end of the rocket to test for air escaping.  Use more tape to seal leaks.  Close off one end to make a nose cone and tape it.
  4. Cut out 2-3 fins in any shape you wish.
  5. Tape the fins to the open (lower) end of the rocket.  Bend them outward to space them equally.
  6. Insert a straw into the rocket body.  Leave some of the straw sticking out so you can hold it.
  7. Aim the rocket and puff strongly into the straw.  LIFT OFF!

Description: Teams will demonstrate their ability to identify bones and/or pictures of bones at stations.  They may also be required to identify the location of the bones on the human body.  Questions may also include bone function, type of joint, and number of bones in the human body.

Number of Participants: 2

Approximate Time: 25 minutes

The Competition

  1. Teams will travel through stations where questions will be answered and/or objects identified.
  2. Only the SCIENTIFIC NAMES of the bones will be accepted as correct unless directed otherwise.
  3. Correct spelling of the scientific names of bones is necessary.

Scoring: The criteria for team placement will be based on the total number of correctly spelled answers.  Pre-selected questions will be designated as tiebreakers.

Description: This event is designed to examine student knowledge and awareness of their fellow travelers on planet earth.  Teams will be asked to identify a variety of naturally occurring evidence that indicates the presence of living organisms in the environment.

Number of Participants: 2

Approximate Time: 25 minutes

The Competition

  1. Teams will move through stations where they will be asked to identify or answer questions about the station focus through models, pictures, diagrams, etc.
  2. Questions may be multiple choice.
  3. Sample specimens may include animal tracks or skins, feathers, animal houses, skulls, fossils, plant damage, etc.

Scoring: The criteria for team placement will be based on the total number of correct answers.  Pre-selected questions will be designated as tiebreakers.

Description: Teams will take a written assessment on their knowledge of professions or studies that end in the suffix -ology.

Number of Participants: 2

Approximate Time: 25 minutes 

The Competition:

Teams will work together on answering questions about the following -ologies.  There may be questions on famous scientists related to these fields as well.

Scoring:

Points will be awarded for each correct response.  The team with the highest score will be the 1st place team.  Ties will be broken by the accuracy of answers to select questions chosen prior to the competition.

Description: The focus for this event includes arachnid and crustacean groups, centipedes, millipedes, and insects.  Teams will be asked to demonstrate an understanding of key arthropod concepts including basic identification, morphology, life history, etc.

Number of Participants: 2

Approximate Time: 25 minutes 

The Competition:

  1. Teams will rotate through stations where questions will be answered or objects identified.
  2. Questions will be multiple choice.
  3. USEFUL WORDS TO KNOW:
  • exoskeleton
  • segmented
  • proboscis
  • pedipalp
  • abdomen
  • chrysalis
  • thorax
  • chitin
  • antenna
  • mandible
  • jointed
  • egg sack
  • scales
  • larva
  • pupa
  • caterpillar
  • metamorphosis
  • compound eye

Scoring:

Points will be awarded for the accuracy of the responses.  Pre-selected questions will be designated as tiebreakers.

Description: Teams will be assessed on their knowledge of the physical properties of matter and the behavior of solids, liquids, and gases.

Number of Participants: 2

Approximate Time: 25 minutes 

The Competition:

Teams will travel from station to station where they will be required to complete the questions presented to them.  Teams may be asked to classify pictures into one of the three categories-solids, liquids, or gases.  Look carefully if there is a word written under the picture.  It will identify what is to be classified (it may not be the container; it may be what is inside the container).

Scoring:

Criteria for team placement will be based on the total number of correct answers.  Pre-selected questions will be used to break ties if necessary.

Description: This event is designed to determine students' knowledge of the human digestive system as well as the basic food groups; the function in the body of carbohydrates, sugar, sodium, proteins, and fats; additives and their effect on foods and humans; and diet analysis.

Number of Participants: 2

Approximate Time: 25 minutes 

The Competition:

  1. Moving through stations, teams will be asked to answer questions such as examining packaging and reading labels to compare protein, fats, carbohydrates, sodium, and sugar.
  2. Students may be asked to list the food groups and place foods with the correct grouping.
  3. Vitamin and mineral importance may also be explored.
  4. Students should be familiar with the terms undernourished, malnourished, plaque, and cholesterol.
  5. Identification and job of major organs and body parts involved in the digestive process.

Scoring:

First place will be the team with the highest accuracy of responses.  Ties will be broken by the accuracy of the responses of pre-selected questions.

Description: Teams will demonstrate their problem-solving skills by completing as many logic puzzles as they can within a set given time.  These puzzles may be math, language, or picture oriented.

Number of Participants: 2

Approximate Time: 25 minutes 

The Competition:

  1. Teams will be challenged to utilize deduction, reasoning, and problem-solving skills to solve a series of logic-type puzzles.
  2. Puzzles may require basic math skills.
  3. Puzzles may require recognition of special and time relationships (who did it, when, where).
  4. All puzzles will be distributed as a packet at the start of the event.

Scoring:

Criteria for team placement will be based on the total points value of correct answers (highest accumulated score is 1st place).  Ties will be broken by the accuracy of answers to select questions chosen prior to the competition.

Description: Prior to the competition, teams will design and construct a launching device according to the parameters set forth in the rules to propel ping pong balls at a target that is placed within a certain range.  Adult guidance may be given but the structure should be constructed by the students.  Devices from previous years may not be used.

Number of Participants: 1-2

Approximate Time: 35 minutes 

The Competition: Launcher Instructions

  1. Teams are to design, construct, and bring to the tournament a launching device.  This device should be capable of accurately and consistently shooting a ping pong ball a range of distances.  Launchers must be marked with the school name.  The launcher must be impounded prior to the start of the tournament.
  2. The balls must be launched individually by releasing the stored energy of the elastomeric material.  There are no material restrictions as to the size, weight, or restraints for the launcher.  It doesn't need to sit on the ground.  Rubber bands, bungee cords, workout bands, or inner tubes are permissible.  Launchers incorporating any electrical components, compressed gas, or liquid or metal springs are forbidden.
  3. Teams will be given ten (10) regulation ping pong balls.  Each ball will be clearly marked with their team number (assigned after registration) in two places on opposite sides using a black permanent marker (team #6 and #9 will have underlined numbers).  Seven (7) balls will be white and three (3) balls will be orange.  One (1) of the orange balls will have a black band drawn completely around the circumference.

Target Information:

  1. The target consists of a 5-gallon plastic pail with the handle removed (approx. 12 in. diameter x 14.5 in. high) placed in the center of a padded pool.
  2. Launch lines will be marked on the floor at 4-8 meters from the center of the target.  A starting line will be marked approx. 2 meters back from each launch line.  The distance to the target will be given to the teams prior to the launch.
  3. The target and launch area will be a hard surface (tiled).

Launch Instructions:

  1. Teams will start with their launcher behind their assigned starting line.  When they hear the Event Supervisor's signal, all teams advance to their launch line, set up their launcher, and "commence firing at will".
  2. No part of the launcher may extend beyond the back edge of the launching line.  Back edge is defined as the edge furthest from the target.  Teams must stay behind their launch line.
  3. A total of 5 minutes are allowed to set up and launch all 10 balls.  The team decided the order in which to launch their different colored balls.  The Event Supervisor will announce when there is one minute remaining and will signal the end of 5 minutes, at which time all launching must cease.
  4. The target will be surrounded by several launch lines.  The chaos of multiple simultaneous launches is part of this event.  Expect to see mid-air collisions, unfortunate bounces, and unbelievable lucky shots.
  5. Once launched, balls cannot be retrieved and launched a second time.  A team begins with ten balls and is allowed ten shots.  Misfires which release the ball count as a shot.  Practice shots at the tournament are not allowed.
  6. The Event Supervisors will immediately intervene if a team's device or behavior appears unsafe for any reason.
  7. No one except team members and Event Supervisors are allowed in the competition area.  Eye protection is required for all team members for the entire time they are in the competition area.  SAFETY GLASSES will be provided.

Scoring:

  1. When the final signal sounds, the Event  Supervisors will count the balls by color contained inside the target.  Any ball that is outside the target at the final signal will have no value, even if it was in earlier and was somehow ejected.
  2. Balls inside the pail at the target center are worth 25 points.  Balls inside the pool but outside the pail are worth 10 points.
  3. A point multiplier is applied for colored balls.  Orange balls count 3 times and the orange ball with the black band counts 5 times.  White balls have no multiplier.
  4. The final score will be equal to the sum of the numerical scores for all shots taken within the time limit.
  5. Point totals determine team placement.
  6. Teams that impound their device after the deadline will be penalized 20 points.  Devices which violate construction parameters will be scored in a tier below legal devices.
  7. Devices judged to be unsafe by the Event Supervisors will not be allowed to launch.
  8. Ties will be broken in favor of the team that scores the most points in the following categories:
  • Points in the bucket
  • Points scored by colored balls
  • Total number of balls in the bucket
  • Total number of balls in the pool