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Coach Resources

All advice we have about starting a team or comments from coaches regarding organization or structure can be found here.


Read through all our policies to better understand the NC Science Olympiad here.

Registering and Payment

You should register as soon as possible once registration is opened for the tournament year. We make registration available shortly after we receive the rules from nationals, which usually happens at the beginning of September. The Division A manual will be posted on our website once it is completed. The Division B/C manual can be found here on the National Science Olympiad site.

Once you have successfully registered, you will receive a confirmation email and your school will appear on your regional tournament page under registered teams. If this does not occur, please double check that the form submitted and your internet didn’t time out or block it from going through, especially if you are on a school computer.

You should also register early to ensure your region gets as many medals, trophies, and bids to States as they deserve. If you wait until a few weeks before your tournament to register or add JV teams, we cannot add any additional medals or trophies since these have to be ordered well ahead of time. Some tournaments also have maximum capacities, and once these numbers are reached, registration for those tournaments closes.

Tournament Dates

These are released as far in advance as possible, usually by Sept 1.

Recruiting Students

Make general announcements over the school’s PA, post fliers around the school, get it on the school’s website when you meet.
Ask other teachers to nominate students, then send them a letter starting with “Congratulations, you’ve been nominated by ____ for the Science Olympiad Team”

Some teachers work Science Olympiad in as part of a student’s grade, or as extra credit, or to replace another project.


Assigning Students to Events

Once students have a general idea of what the events are, look at the schedule for your tournament (found on your tournament page). Then have the students go through each time period and rank 1-5 or 1-6 how much they like each event. 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.

Selecting Your Competition Team(s)

Coaches have many different ways of doing this. Some coaches have progress checks, some base it on single event run-offs, others have a full blown in-school competition. If your school qualifies for states, you may substitute students as you see fit.

Varsity vs. JV:
Your first team is your varsity team. This is the team that qualifies you for states. Be sure to observe the NCSO policies on the maximum number of 6th (elementary), 9th (middle), and 12th (high) graders that a team can have. Any additional teams after your first team are JV teams, and cannot move on to states. If you need to add a JV team to a registration you already completed, do not fill out the registration form again, rather email and we will add your additional team(s).

Recruiting Help

Look everywhere! Recruit parents, other teachers, professionals in the community, elementary and middle schools should ask their high schools if their science olympiad teams will help. You can also search for local clubs in your area, like Astronomy clubs, Fossil clubs, Bird Watcher organizations, etc. If there is a nearby community college, museum, or other educational resource, look there! Many of these places have a variety of organizations looking for ways to get more involved in the community.

What Can Parents 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, write blurbs for, or even write a grant!

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, get lunch, or handle any other situations that may arise.

About Fundraising

Fundraising Toolkit (PDF)

There’s the traditional standbys of bake sales and car washes, but you can also find money in other ways:

Ask your PTA for support, to pay your registration, send you to the coaches institute, or purchase you a rocket launcher.

Local restaurants will often host a fundraiser night, where you ask as many people as you know to go eat there and the restaurant gives 10%, 15%, or sometimes even 20% of the night’s sales back to your organization. Some of these restaurants have additional requirements, just ask about the details when you contact the restaurant. Restaurants that have done this in the past include Applebees, Arby’s, Boston Market, Burger King, Chic-fil-A, Chilis, CiCi’s, Outback, Panera, Pizza Hut, Q’doba, Sonic, Subway, Sweet Tomatoes, Wendy’s and many more. Don’t be afraid to call a local restaurant and ask!

Approach your county science supervisor with other coaches from your area (you can find out who else is registered for your local tournament by visiting your tournament page and clicking the “Registered Teams” link) and ask them if the county can budget to pay some of your expenses. For example, New Hanover County is able to pay for all of their team registrations, and Wake County covers the cost of all of their B/C team registrations as well as coaches institute registrations.

Have questions or need help fundraising? Please contact NCSO Development Officer, Valerie Bass at

How Do I Learn More About The Events?

The single best way to learn about the events is to attend our annual Coaches Institute held in the fall, typically at the beginning of October. Watch our main page for registration to open for these, usually in August. Anyone can attend these Institutes, so recruit other teachers and parents early! It is recommended to send 2 or even 3 people from your school to this, since there are more sessions offered than one person can attend, and a single person may feel overwhelmed by the amount of information presented in a single day.

You can also learn about the events (and parents can, too!) by visiting the event resources section of our website. There is a page dedicated to each event where descriptions, pictures, videos, handouts, worksheets, presentations, links, old tests, and other resources we find are posted for all to share. If you find a great resource for an event, send it to us and we’ll post it!

Materials and Costs

There are a variety of costs associated with having a team. The only recurring costs are the registration fee for your team(s) or the Coaches Institutes. 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 
-Coaches Institute registration (optional but highly recommended, TBD)

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 eyewear (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 Roles

Some roles that teams have told us they have:

Team Captain: Takes a leadership role with the team, may help set the practice schedule or recruit other students, organizes team activities, and may also do any of the duties listed below.

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

Progress Monitor
: Keeps track of everyone’s progress. Makes sure devices are being built, required processes are being learned.

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

Alignment with NC Standard Course of Study

Grades 3-5 Alignment (A Division)
Grade 6-8 Alignment (B Division)
Grades 9-12 Alignment (C Division)

Other Resources

2019 NCSO Coaches Clinic 
NCSO Recommendation Form for teachers
Scavenger Hunt for events to use with students
Avogadro Explanation Video