General Q&As
Coaching Q&As

FAQs for 2020-21 School Year

Will there be in person  meetings for build events this year?   2020-21 is all about overcoming challenges!  We are scientists and we love change and challenges.  If we can’t meet or compete in person, we will go virtual!  So, this  2020-21 season is all about Mini-SO (Science Olympiad).  This model is responsive to students who are still isolated in their homes and distance learning. To protect students at home, we cannot allow hands-on events to be run.  So the answer is no .  No in-person meetings for any of the events until we are given approval to do so safely.

What are the new events replacing the build events?  The new events/rules modifications will be out on Sept 8.  If you are participating in the BEARSO Invitational, you will receive the new events /rules from your head coach.   But for most subjects, they will be a repeat of last year.  

Will there be in person competition at Cal State East Bay University?  At the moment, the answer is no.  The Regional competition is going to be in late February or early March.  If the circumstances change between now and Feb, we will let you know.  But at this moment, we are gearing up for a Mini-SO competition virtually.

What if the student is enrolled in Castro Valley Virtual Academy (CVVA)?  We are able to accept CVVA students to compete along side with Creekside, Canyon, or CVHS schools.  Do notify your head coach if your student is a CVVA student.

When and where are the meetings taking place?  Meetings will take place online via Google Meet or Zoom  video conferencing  apps.   Since all the CVUSD students were given a Chromebook for this school year, everyone should have access to a computer and internet access.

When is the actual competition day?  Is this an all-day event?  The SciOly Regional competition is slated for late February 2021.  We will announce the exact date as soon as we know.  And yes, it is going to be mostly all day event.  The tests will begin at 8 am and the last test will be around 3 pm.   The award ceremony will be at a later date.

As a parent coach, do I need to fill out a Megan’s Law Form this year?  Yes, please go to the Form section and fill out all the forms including the Megan’s Law Clearance Form.

I completed my registration, where do I pay?  What forms do I have to sign?  Go to the Forms section on this site and complete 2 forms — Parental Release Form and Student/Parent Agreement.  We are only accepting payment online this year.   You can use PayPal or Credit Card of your choice.

General FAQs

  • What is Science Olympiad?  Science Olympiad is the nation’s most exciting K-12 science competition!  It is like an academic track meet.  Each team of 15 will prepare to compete in Science Olympiad tournaments held on local, state and national levels. These inter-scholastic competitions consist of a series of 23 individual and team events that encourage learning in biology, earth science, chemistry, physics, problem solving and technology. Events in the Science Olympiad have been designed to recognize the wide variety of skills that students possess. While some events require knowledge of scientific facts and concepts, others rely on science processes, skills or applications.  The Regional Competition is held in March, each year.
  • What is a “study” subject/event?   STUDY event examples are Anatomy & Physiology, Disease Detective, Dynamic Planet, Fossils, Heredity, Herpetology,  Meteorology, Road Scholar,  and Solar System.  These subjects require reading, researching, memorizing, and taking a multiple choice test on competition day.  No labs or building involved.  Meetings are usually one hour a week and the rest is studying on your own.  
  • What is a “lab” subject/event?  Events such as Circuit Lab, Crime Busters, Density Lab, Experimental Designs,  GameOn, Mystery Architecture, Poisons and Potions, Chem Lab, Forensics, Thermodynamics, and Write it Do it are all under the LAB category.  These subjects combine studying and a hands-on component.  For example, Crime Buster (CSI) will cover crime scene analysis of hair samples, fingerprints, sample powders, etc.  Students will be asked to solve a crime scene and write an evidence based conclusion on the day of the competition.
  • What is a “build” subject/event? Some examples of BUILD subjects are Battery Buggy, Boomilever, Elastic Launched Gliders, Towers, Mission Possible, and Roller Coaster.  The students will learn engineering concepts, design, application, build and test a variety of fun contraptions.  We recommend the student try at least one, but no more than 2 build subjects.  Weekly meeting times are a little longer due to hands on work like cutting, gluing, fixing, testing, etc.  
  • How many people  are on a team? Canyon, Creekside, and CVHS will field 2-3 teams, depending on demand.  Each team will carry 15 competing students and 2-5 alternates.  
  • What is an “alternate”?  Being an alternate means the student can be on the team but will not be competing.  He/she can attend all the weekly subject meeting(s) with paid registration fee of $85, can opt to take as little as one subject, and can be the team representative to help with impound on competition day.  Maximum of 5 alternates are allowed per team.  
  • When and where are the meetings taking place?  Meetings will take place either after school, in the evenings or on the weekends.  Subject coaches are mostly parents who have regular day jobs and will not be able to coach during the weekdays.  Majority of the “build” event meetings will take place on the weekends.  Some meetings will be held at school, at the Castro Valley library, or at the coach’s house.  Build teams will also be going to Canyon gym to build and practice on weekends in January & February.  (For 20-21 school year, see FAQ at the top of this page.)
  • How long is each meeting?  Meetings will last 1 1/2 to 3 hours per subject each week.  If you join 3 events, you will spend 3-6 hours a week studying, experimenting, building, etc.
  • What days are the meetings?  Can you choose the days and times?  Meetings will be held weekdays after school, evenings or weekends.  The meeting time will be set by the subject coach.  Please be sure to let your coach know what times you are available.  Coaches are volunteering their personal time to coach the kids.  Please be flexible and work with your coach to find a time that will work out for everyone.
  • What if my child can’t make the meeting time for his/her assigned subject?  If your child absolutely can’t make the weekly meeting time, let your coaches know ASAP.   We will try to switch your child to another subject that will work out better with your schedule.
  • How long does the whole thing last?  Teams will be formed by September.  Weekly meetings will begin immediately until competition day which is usually in late Feb or early March.
  • My child only wants to do one or two subjects.  Can she/he still join the team?  Yes, he/she can join the team; but he/she will not be able to compete.  He/she can choose to be an alternate.  The registration fee of $85 is still required.  
  • Will my child be guaranteed his/her choice of subjects/events?  All the students will be asked to select their top 8 choices when they register.  We will do our best to assign subjects from their top choices.  But, there is no guarantee.  They will get at least 1-2 of their choices.   There are many complex components to factor in when assigning the subjects.  This is a huge competition and it comes with strict guidelines we must abide by in order to compete. We can only have 15 students and all 15 must some how compete in all 23 subjects.  That’s why we require every student to take on 3 subjects.  A few students  will be asked to take on 4 events to cover all 23 subjects. There are also preset test schedules for different subjects/categories.  We also have to consider test schedule for build events which is announced 2 weeks before the competition date. We have to log in and signup for test times that work for our teams.  To top off the complexity, we have to factor in the coach’s time, student’s availability, want-to-be-with-my-friend factor, attrition, illnesses on day of competition, etc.  It is organized chaos and by no means the competition is perfect in any way.  But, that’s how it works and we have to play the game just like everyone else.  Please be patient, understanding, and flexible as we all who are volunteering try to make this a smooth and fun learning experiences for all.  Every subject is interesting and worth exploring.
  • Sign me up!  How do I register?   Registration  is online.  Go to .  Space is limited.  Volunteer to coach and your child will most likely get a competition spot.
  • How much is registration? Is it refundable?  The registration fee is $85 per student.  The fee is due September 12, 2020  for middle schools and September 1 for CVHS and not refundable after October 16, 2020.  Anyone late will relinquish their spot to someone on the wait list. The fee covers Regional Competition Team Registration fee, 1-2 invitational reg fee, a team T-shirt, and lunch on the day of the event.  We also try to cover some of the material costs for some of the subjects.  If you work for a company that can donate to our program, let us know.  We do have  a non-profit tax ID number. 
  • Where do I send the registration fee and the signed forms?   Click HERE for on-line payment.   Email signed forms to  (Creekside) (Canyon) or (Castro Valley High)
  • When is the actual competition day?  Is this an all-day event?  The SciOly Regional competition is typically in late Feb or early March at Cal State University of East Bay.  Individual subject tests will begin as early as 8 am.  Students are required to arrive an hour before their first scheduled test time.  All tests will be done by 3:30 pm.  There will be a short break before the Award Ceremony.  Award Ceremony concludes around 6 pm.  (For 20-21 school year, see FAQ at the top of this page.)

Coaching Questions:

  • I am interested in coaching but I need more information.  How many hours a week do I have to commit?   It depends on what subject you are thinking of coaching.  For study or lab subjects, you will need to meet with the students at least one hour a week ( 1 1/2 hour recommended).  You will need another hour or two for researching and preparing some materials for the meeting.   If you love to build, coach one of the build subjects.  That will require a little more time since you have to spend time brainstorming, designing, cutting/sawing, gluing, letting the glue dry, testing, fixing, tuning, etc.  We find that majority of the students LOVE building stuff like helicopters, hovercraft, bridges, bottle rockets, roller coasters, and more.   As a coach you get to set the meeting time and venue that is convenient for you.  
  • How many students will I be responsible for?  Whether you are a coach for Creekside or Canyon, you will be the coach for 2-3 teams at your school.  Typically, there are 2 students per subject per team.  Some subjects will only have one student.   Experimental Design team will have 3 students per team.  So, you will be coaching 6-9 students.  And these students will be a mix of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders.  For high school, there will be 2-4 teams.  We encourage the  high school students to be more independent and do their own research and study .  We  ask for parent coaches for some of the tougher subjects .  And we also like to have parent champions who can help with rounding up the students for meetings, purchase needed materials, administer practice tests, etc.
  • I don’t have any science background, can I still coach?  The answer is YES! You do not need a degree in science or work in the technology field to coach a SciOly subject.  All we require is your desire to learn and help your child. With all the examples and resources available on the Internet, you can be a fantastic coach.  We also have resources and materials from previous competitions. If you are a teacher, a scientist, or an engineer, that’s a plus!  But some of the SciOly coaches are not.  They are researching, learning, experimenting and building along with their students.  It’s a great way to spend quality time with your child that will ultimately help with their school years and future careers.
  • I would like to coach, but I travel a lot for my work or have other commitments.   Co-coaching is the answer for you.  Find another parent on the team who can assist you.  You can take turns hosting the meetings, you can cover for each other on days you are sick or away, or bounce off ideas.  It’s a win-win.   Remember, it’s only an hour or two of meeting each week for about four months.  This is quality time well spent with your son/daughter.
  • I can not coach but I would like to help in other ways.  What can I do?  If you are not able to coach a subject, you can help with one of the following very important jobs.  Talk to your head coach about it.
    • Write a  Div B/C test.  In order to participate in the Invitationals, we are required to proctor a test for each team we enter.  If we are proctoring a study event,  we are required to  write a test (multiple choice/short answers/short paragraph) about a subject of our choosing.   
    • Supervise a Div  B/C Test – We need several parents to help proctor  the tests on the day of the event.   We need several event supervisors and event assistants to administer the tests and grade them.  We will train you for this.
    • T-shirt Coordinator  – manage a T-shirt design contest, collect sizes, order t-shirts & distribute t-shirts.
    • Food Coordinator – For the day of competition, we will need someone to order pizzas, and create a signup sheet for parents to bring snacks and drinks.
    • Video/Photographer –  Take photos at meetings and day of competition. 
  • I am new to Science Olympiad.  Where do I begin as a coach?  First of all, thank you so much for coaching!  Our students can not succeed without your generous time and support.  You will be added to our email  list as a subject coach.  We will email you all the links/resources we have on hand to help you get started.  Much of the materials are online.  Youtube, Quizlet, and SciOly sites are very helpful.  Just do a search for the subject you’re coaching.  We will also host coach meetings throughout the months.  We also have several parents who had coached before and they’re ready to share their experiences with you.  The best place to start right now is to study the Rule Book.  FYI…Div B is middle schools and Div C is high schools.
  • Do I need to fill out a separate Megan’s Law Form for each  school?  Yes, all coaches and parents who will be working with the students are required to file a Megan’s Law Clearance Form with his/her respective middle school  and high school.  This is a requirement from Castro Valley Unified School District.  We will be checking with the school offices to make sure all coaches are cleared.  
  • Will I get reimbursed for my expenses?  Yes, as a coach, you will be reimbursed up to a certain amount.  We will let you know as soon as you sign up to coach. Please check with the Head Coaches (Eric/Kathy/Yvonne/Amber/Garland/Bruce) before you buy any expensive books, CDs, materials, or tools.  We have some resources from previous years we can reuse.  FYI, most CDs are not useful. Do not buy them.  Much of the information is available on the Internet for free.   If you can get donations from your company, your neighbors, teachers, and friends, that would be even better.

Thank you for your interest in Castro Valley Science Olympiad.

Please contact us if you have more questions.