Tri-County Science Events

Tri-County Science and Technology Fair

Students who are in grades 5th-12th in Hillsdale, Lenawee, or Monroe County are eligible to participate in this project-based learning science competition. Using the scientific method to form a hypothesis and answer a question, students will report data and explain their project on a tri-fold display board.

The 2019 Tri-County Science and Technology Fair will take place Tuesday-Thursday, February 12-14, 2019 at Adrian College.

For more information, read the 2019 Tri-County Science and Technology Fair manual.

Registration is now closed!

 

Additional Science Fair Resources

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 2019 Tri-County Science Olympiad is scheduled for Tuesday, March 5, 2019 at Siena Heights University.

Coaches meetings are scheduled for November 29, 2018 and December 4, 2018 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!

2019 Science Olympiad Event Overviews

Build a Clay Boat - 3rd Grade

Description: Teams will construct a clay boat from a chunk of clay about 25 grams in weight.  Students will float their clay boat in a tub of water. Objects (to be determined) will be loaded into the hull of the clay boat one at a time until the boat sinks.

Number of Participants: 2

Approximate Time: 25 minutes

The Competition:

  1. Each team will have 10 minutes to construct their boat.
  2. The student boat captain & his partner must predict the number of pieces of cargo that the boat will hold and record their prediction.
  3. Participants may not practice filling the boat during the building period.
  4. 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 it sinks.     (Sinking occurs when water enters the boat.)
  5. The event coordinator will count the actual number of pieces of cargo used and teams will record the number.  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.

Write It, Do It - 3rd-5th Grade

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 the creation and how to duplicate it.
  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 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.

Let it Fly - 3rd Grade

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 planes will travel.

Number of Participants: 2

Approximate Time: 25 minutes

The Competition: Construction Phase

  1. No coaches, parents, or spectators in the building area.
  2. The Event Supervisor will inform the teams of the type of plane they are to construct at the start of the event.  It will be one of the following designs: Dart Plane, Flying Ring, Sea Gull, Hoop Paper Plane, or Vortex.
  3. Team’s/member’s name must be written on their plane.
  4. During construction phase, teams will record the estimated total distance their planes will travel. This is to be done before any practice launches.
  5. The plane may not be wadded up into a paper ball.
  6. Teams do not need to use all of the supplied materials.

The Competition: Flight Phase

  1. Teams may take 2 practice flights and make adjustments to their planes.
  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. The distances will be added together to get a total team distance.
  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/prediction to the actual flight distance will be ranked higher.

Tower Challenge - 3rd-5th Grade

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 15 minutes to construct the tallest tower possible. The tower may need to support an object at its highest point.
  3. Teams will inform the event coordinator when they complete their structure, who will then measure the height.
  4. The team will then place the object provided by the event coordinator on top of their tower, if required. Competition may just be the height of a tower or it may include supporting an object.
  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.

Michigan Plant Life - 3rd Grade

Description: Teams will be asked to identify and provide information about popular species of Michigan trees and plants.

Number of Participants: 2

Approximate Time: 25 minutes

The Competition:

  1. Teams will rotate through stations where questions may focus on the identification of Michigan trees, leaves, and plants.
  2. There may be questions regarding basic tree and plant structure and the function of roots, stems, leaves, and seeds.
  3. Only common names of specimens will be asked for.
  4. Students may be asked about the life cycle of seed plants.

Scoring: Points will be given for each correct identification and correct answer. Ties will be broken by the accuracy of responses to pre-determined questions.

 

STEM Build - 3rd-5th Grade

Description: Each team will be given a bag of mystery supplies. Teams will also receive a description of what the team is to build using the materials found in their bag.

Number of Participants: 2

Approximate Time: 25 minutes

The Competition:

  1. Teams will have 15 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.

Ping Pong Propulsion - 5th Grade

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 learners. Devices from previous years may not be used.

Number of Participants: 1-2

Approximate Time: 30 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.  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, liquid, or metal springs are forbidden.
  2. 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. Teams #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 at 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) this year.

Launch Instructions:

  1. Teams will start with their launcher behind their assigned starting line.  When they hear the Event Coordinator'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 decides the order in which to launch their different colored balls.  The Event Coordinator will announce when there is one minute remaining and signal the end of the 5 minutes when all launches 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 shot 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 Coordinator will immediately intervene if a team's device or behavior appears unsafe for any reason.
  7. No one except contestants and judges 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 Coordinators 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.  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 a black band count 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 Coordinators will not be allowed to launch.
  8. Ties will be broken in favor of the team that scores the most points in these categories:
  • Point in the bucket
  • Points scored by colored balls
  • Total number of balls in the bucket
  • Total number of balls in the pool

Environmental Triathlon - 3rd-5th Grade

Description: Environmental questions will be interwoven with an obstacle course that will be run in a relay race format. The team is to consist of a mixture of boys and girls.  Contact me if this team configuration is a problem for your team. 

Number of Participants: 3

Approximate Time: 4 minutes per team

The Competition:

  1. One team member will be placed at positions A (Start), B, and C. The last student (C) completes their station and runs to the finish line.
  2. One question will be asked at each station and should be answered as rapidly as possible.
  3. There will be one physical activity that all team members may be asked to do individually or as a group.
  4. The physical activity and academic question must be completed before team members proceed to the next station.

Scoring: Total correct answers and time to complete the event will be recorded by the event coordinators. The criteria for team placement will be the total correct answers and the time to complete the triathlon event.

Grasp a Graph - 4th Grade

Description: Teams will interpret and organize information using pictographs, pie, bar, and line graphs. Venn diagrams may also be included.

Number of Participants: 2

Approximate Time: 25 minutes

The Competition:

  1. Teams will be challenged to utilize deduction, reasoning, and problem solving skills to interpret and organize a series of pictographs, pie, bar, and line graphs, as well as Venn diagrams.
  2. There will be multiple choice questions based on team’s interpretation of the given graphs.
  3. Teams may be asked to complete a graph using given data.
  4. All graphs will be distributed as a packet at the start of the event. Each team will work together on their packet.

Scoring: Criteria for team placement will be based on the total points value of correct answers.  Ties will be broken using pre-determined questions.

Michigan Water Study - 4th Grade

Description: Teams will be asked to identify and provide information about plants and animals that may be found in Michigan lakes, streams, ponds, and wetlands.

Number of Participants: 2

Approximate Time: 25 minutes

The Competition:

  1. Teams will rotate through stations where questions will be answered and/or objects identified in regards to plants and animals found in and around Michigan waterways.
  2. Topics may include freshwater ecosystems, aquatic food webs, and life cycles of freshwater organisms.
  3. Aquatic organisms to know include: mayfly, damselfly, leech, waterstrider, caddisfly, mosquito, snail, back swimmer, dragonfly, and zebra mussel.
  4. Aquatic plants to know include: cattail, purple loosestrife, duckweed, water lily, marsh mallow, and pickerel weed.
  5. Only common names of specimens will be asked for.
  6. Teams will have one minute at each station.

Scoring: Points will be given for each correct identification and correct answer.  Ties will be broken by the accuracy of responses to pre-determined questions.

Parachute Down - 4th Grade

Description: Teams will construct a parachute that will keep an “astronaut” in the air for the longest time. 

Number of Participants: 2

Approximate Time: 40 minutes

The Competition:

  1. The challenge will be to create a parachute and attach the “astronaut” to it and then drop it from a pre-determined height. The goal is to keep the parachute in the air for as long as possible.
  2. Teams will construct a parachute from given materials. All materials do not have to be used. The “astronaut” must be attached to the parachute.
  3. Teams will have 20 minutes to construct their parachute and attach their “astronaut”.
  4. Teams may test their devices in the building area but may not test them from the official drop location.
  5. Teams will release their parachute, one at a time, from the height specified by the event coordinators. Each team member will take a turn releasing the parachute.
  6. Coordinators will measure and record the time required for each parachute to reach the floor. Time will continue if the parachute bounces off an object but will stop if the parachute gets stuck and stops.

Scoring:  Individual scores will be the recorded time from the release of the parachute until it lands on the floor. Teammate’s scores will be added to create a team score. First place team will have the longest combined total flight time.  Ties will be broken by comparing each team’s single longest flight times.

A is for Anatomy - 5th Grade

Description: Students will identify anatomical structures of the human nervous and digestive systems, as well as answering questions about the functions of these systems. Teams may also be asked to name parts of the brain, spinal column, and special senses (ear and eye).

Number of Participants: 2

Approximate Time: 25 minutes

The Competition: Teams will move through stations which may have models or pictures of anatomical structures of the human nervous and digestive systems, as well as special senses (eye and ear). Questions will relate to these areas through identification of structures and/or the functions of the systems.

Scoring: Each question will be worth 1 point and there may be multiple questions per station.  The first place team will be the one with the highest point total. Ties will be broken by the accuracy of responses to pre-determined questions.  Correct spelling may also be used as the tiebreaker if needed.

Extinction is Forever - 5th Grade

Description: Teams will be quizzed on organisms that have become extinct, or are on the endangered or threatened lists. Also, organisms that have been removed from such lists and the reasons behind their extinction or endangered status may be investigated.

Number of Participants: 2

Approximate Time: 25 minutes

The Competition: Teams will move through stations showing photographs or sketches of endangered or extinct organisms representative of Michigan and the Midwest. There may be questions about threatened species including the destruction of habitats and the construction of new, protected areas, as well as a look at non-native invasive species.

Scoring: Each question will be worth 1 point and there may be multiple questions per station.  The first place team will be the one with the highest point total. Ties will be broken by the accuracy of responses to pre-determined questions.

Science Sketchers - 3rd-5th Grade

Description: Team members will take turns drawing and guessing clues for scientific terms or concepts.

Number of Participants: 2-3

Approximate Time: 5 minutes per team

The Competition:

  1. Teams will have 4 minutes to complete up to 40 terms.
  2. All teams will receive the same science terms in the same order.  The terms will consist of one or two words coming only from the list provided in these rules.
  3. Team members will alternate drawing and receiving clues.  All team members must rotate turns on being the clue drawer and guesser.  Teams may pick the order of rotation.
  4. Timing begins when the supervisor shows the first term and ends when the team has correctly identified or passed the last term or when the 4-minute time period has expired.
  5. No other team members may see the term.  The sketcher will draw pictures and visual clues.  Letters of any alphabet or numbers of any kind are not allowed.  The following symbols are acceptable: arrows, a minus (-) to shorten a word, a plus (+) to lengthen a word.  No other symbols are permitted unless they represent the word(s) given (circle=sun).
  6. Participants may not give visual clues with their hands or bodies except for supervisor demonstrated clues such as nodding yes or no or to acknowledge a desired response from team members.
  7. The supervisor will  indicate when the correct term is given.  Different forms of the term will not be accepted with the exception of plurals/singulars.
  8. If a team violates any of the rules regarding the use of verbal or visual communication, the term in play at the time of the violation will be considered as a pass.
  9. Any team member (person giving or receiving clues) may choose to pass on a term.  Once the team passes on a term, they may not return to it.
  10. When the team has correctly identified or passed on the term, or if a violation occurs, the next team member will be given a new term until the team has gone through their set of terms or the time expires.

Scoring:

  1. One point will be awarded for each correct term within the allotted time.  The top team will have correctly identified the most terms.
  2. The first tiebreaker is the team with the longest string of correct answers.  The second tiebreaker would be the team with the fewest term passes.  The third tiebreaker is the shortest period of time to complete the list.  If teams are unable to guess any words, only participation will be noted.

Official Vocabulary List:

  • abdomen
  • acceleration
  • air
  • asteroid
  • atmosphere
  • attract
  • bird
  • camouflage
  • carnivore
  • circuit
  • cirrus
  • cold
  • community
  • compound
  • condensation
  • constellation
  • craters
  • cumulus
  • decay
  • decomposer
  • desert
  • digestion
  • earthquake
  • echo
  • eclipse
  • ecosystem
  • electricity
  • endoskeleton
  • equator
  • evaporation
  • exoskeleton
  • expand
  • extinct
  • feathers
  • fish
  • float
  • flower
  • fog
  • food chain
  • food web
  • fossil
  • front
  • fulcrum
  • gas
  • germinate
  • gibbous
  • glacier
  • gravity
  • habitat
  • heat
  • herbivore
  • hibernation
  • hot
  • hurricane
  • igneous
  • inclined plane
  • insect
  • invertebrate
  • joints
  • latitude
  • lever
  • light
  • lightning
  • liquid
  • lungs
  • magnet
  • mammal
  • metamorphosis
  • migration
  • mixture
  • moon
  • motion
  • muscle
  • nutrients
  • omnivore
  • orbit
  • oxygen
  • photosynthesis
  • planet
  • pole
  • pollination
  • population
  • precipitation
  • predator
  • prey
  • producer
  • pulley
  • pupa
  • recycle
  • reflection
  • reproduce
  • reptile
  • root
  • rotation
  • runoff
  • scales
  • screw
  • seed
  • skeleton
  • solid
  • sound
  • space
  • speed
  • stars
  • stem
  • storm
  • sun
  • sunrise
  • sunset
  • tendons
  • thermometer
  • thorax
  • thunder
  • tornado
  • vertebrate
  • vibration
  • vitamin
  • waning
  • waxing
  • wedge