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Coaches Timeline & Checklist

We’ve created a coaches timeline & checklist for all coaches.  This is just a guide, feel free to adapt it to fit your needs.

Registering Your Team

It is to your advantage to register your team early!  Here in Indiana, you have the opportunity to choose your regional tournament location when you register.  However, regional sites close automatically when they reach capacity.  Once a site is closed, you must choose another site.

Tournament Dates

All dates are published as soon as they are available.  Our goal is to have all dates determined and posted by September 1.  When registering and selecting your regional tournament site please make sure you can compete on that date at that tournament location.  Our membership director can only make changes to your registration if a tournament site has availability.

Assigning Students to Events

Teams assign students to events in a variety of different ways.  Here are a couple of suggestions:

  1. Create mini competitions and assign students based on how well they score.  This requires you to write tests and for students to build/study for them, however this method has proven to be successful for many schools.
  2. Find the tournament schedule for your regional and have the students go through each time period and rank 1-5 or 1-6 in order of preference.  You can then try to give each student one of their top choices, but in other time slots they may get their 2nd or 3rd choice.
  3. If your team is attending multiple competitions, have students pick 3-4 events to compete in and give them a chance to rotate.

Selecting Your Competition Team(s)

What do you do when you have more students sign-up than you need?  Selecting your competitive team can be tricky and it is best to decide in advance what will work best for your school.  Some coaches allow all students to be involved in practices (after all teaching and learning is good for all) and will choose their competitive team based on progress reports, attendance at practices, single event run-offs, and/or have a full blown in-school competition.  Keep in mind, if your school qualifies for the state tournament, you may substitute students as you see fit.

Varsity VS JV:

Your first team is your varsity team and is the only team that can qualify for the state tournament.  A maximum of 15 students can compete on either the varsity or JV team.  A team is not required to have 15 students, this is just the maximum.  When selecting your team be sure to adhere to the maximum number of FIVE 9th grade students (Division B teams) and SEVEN 12th grade students (Division C teams).  Additional teams are considered JV teams and cannot move on to the state tournament.  You will be asked to identify your varsity/JV teams at your regional tournament.

Get Help!

To coach a Science Olympiad team successfully, you’ll need help!

  1. First check within your school and recruit other teachers or administrators.
  2. Utilize your parents, many are professionals and have a lot of knowledge and expertise.
  3. Next look in the community some businesses and corporations encourage their employees to give back – some will even pay their employees to get involved!
  4. Search for local clubs in your area like Aeronautics, Astronomy, Fossil, Ecology, or Bird Watching organizations.
  5. Check out nearby community colleges, museums, or other educational resources, there are many!

Many organizations are looking for ways to get more involved in the community.

What Can Parents (or other family members) Do?

Apprenticeship: Parents cannot build a device for their child, but they can teach their child how to do it or find someone who can, much like an apprenticeship program. Remember, the student will be questioned about their device and how it was made, if an event leader has reason to believe the student did not build the device they can be disqualified. The student needs to do the final work themselves!

Practice Facilitator: Often the assistance a student needs is simply in being able to meet with their partner to practice on their event(s). Meeting one on one at someone’s house can greatly increase productivity without the distraction of other students practicing other events. Ask your child if they want to invite their partner over to practice, or offer to drive them to their partner’s house. Likewise, practices can be held before or after school if classroom(s) are available.

Progress Checker: Assists the head coach with keeping track of everyone’s progress. Adequate progress and testing should be made on building events, and notebooks should be growing for content events.

Snacks: For the parent who says they don’t know anything about science. Put them in charge of snacks at full team meetings.

Resource Finder: Have this parent google search for additional resources or approach local businesses and organizations to recruit help or to donate materials.

Fundraising Chair: Have this person set up restaurant fundraising nights, contact businesses for financial support, organize fundraisers, or even write a grant!

Transportation: Parents that are attending tournaments can help transport students in carpools if that is allowed by your school.

Tournament Day Help: You will always need parents on tournament day to keep an eye on things, make that run to a nearby store when you realize someone forgot their safety glasses, help make sure students make it to their events on time, escort students to events, get lunch, or handle any other situations that may arise.


Fundraising is a must!  After all you’ll need money for supplies, travel expenses, team t-shirts, food, etc. so the quicker you get started on fundraising the better!  Here are a few suggestions to get your wheels turning:

  • Profitable Solutions Fundraising (laundry soap & dish detergent)
  • Amish Recipe Fundraising – Jams, Jellies, Fudge, Peanut Brittle and more!
  • Yankee Candle Fundraising – Candles & Accessories and Room Sprays & Diffusers
  • Schwan’s Cares Fundraising – Many families already have Schwan’s delivering food right to their door! Why not get the community involved, they get their groceries and you get much needed money!
  • Dine-to-Donate – local restaurants will give you 10%, 15%, or sometimes 20% of the night’s sales back to your organization.  Restaurant’s that have done this in the past include Applebees, Arby’s, Boston Market, Burger King, Chic-fil-A, Chili’s, Outback and many more!  Don’t be afraid to call and ask.
  • Network Marketing Consultants often offer fundraisers such as Pampered Chef, MaryKay, PartyLite, etc.
  • Home Football Game Tailgate Cookout – Set-up a grill and sell hot dogs & hamburgers and S’mores!!
  • Bake Sale
  • Car Wash
  • Team Garage Sale
  • PTA – Ask them to cover your registration

Get creative what works for you may not work for others.

Learning the Events

Attending a Coaches Clinic is the single best way to learn more about each event.  The Indiana Coaches Clinic is held in October each fall.  You’ll find the date of the Indiana clinic as well as surrounding clinics on our Calendar and under Tournaments & Clinics.  Anyone can attend these clinics, so recruit teachers and parents early.  It is recommended to send 2-4 people from your school since there are simultaneous sessions offered and one person cannot possibly attend every one.

Another way to learn about the events is by visiting the event resources section of our website.

So What Does it Cost A Team?

There are a variety of costs associated with having a team. The only recurring costs are the registration fee for your team(s), travel expenses, and/or the Coaches Clinics. Other than that, most materials once purchased can be used over and over again (rocket launcher, bridge testing block, rock/fossil sets, glassware, safety glasses) or only need to be replaced when they run out (paper, tape, super glue, batteries, balsa wood). It is possible to run a team for a few hundred dollars, it is also possible to run a team for a few thousand dollars. Neither is necessarily better or worse. It mostly depends on how creative you are with resources, and how many things you buy as opposed to borrowing, checking out from the library, etc.

Annual expenses: 

  • Team registration (2017-2018 costs are $275 per team)
  • Travel Expenses to Competitions
  • Indiana Coaches Clinic registration (optional but highly recommended, $85 w/meals)
  • 2nd Team Registration (optional)

One time expenses:

  • Bottle Rocket Launcher ($50-$300 range)
  • Compressor for launcher if desired, or bike pump
  • Reference books (Vary by event)
  • Specimen sets (Vary by event)
  • Protective eye wear (for events that require it)
  • Motors and multimeter if desired

Recurring expenses, refill as they run out: 

  • Chemicals for practice (Vary by event)
  • Balsa wood, glue for towers, helicopters, etc (buy in bulk online cheap)
  • Wires and bulbs if desired by student designs
  • paper, glue, binders, pens, calculators, rulers, etc. as needed

Many supplies can be found in recycling bins, such as bottles and cardboard for rockets, practice items for Write It Do It, Mystery Arch, or Experimental Design, old CD’s for vehicle wheels, paint sticks or scrap wood remnants from the cutting section at Home Depot or Lowes for larger scale construction events. You can also go outside and pick up your own specimens for events like Rocks, Bugs, or Trees.

Student Leadership

Some teams elect or assign a leadership team.  Some of the roles that teams incorporate in their leadership teams include:

Team Captain: The team captain may help set the practice schedule, recruit other students, organize team building activities or other team activities.

Supply Manager: Monitors supply closet and keeps a list of supplies needed.  Searches for recycled materials that can be used in device building and works with the team treasurer/coach/fundraising person to purchase supplies when needed.

Website Watcher: Monitors the website and checks frequently for tournament updates, rule clarifications, new resources, and other announcements.

Progress Monitor: Monitors everyone’s progress to include making sure devices are being built, testing logs are being done, binders are being made, etc.

Paper Person: This student makes sure all the team paperwork gets done, rosters filled out and signed by the principal, photo consents are turned in by each member and signed by their parents, conduct forms are signed by everyone, permission slips are turned in, and copies of the schedule and map are made for everyone.