Elementary Science Olympiad

For Teachers & Coaches


Science Olympiad is like a track meet for the brain. Students are provided materials with which to design, build, manipulate, and experiment. Such activities involve problem solving, trial and error, critical thinking, and communication. Scientific thinking processes and skills are nurtured in a fun and safe environment with teachers playing the part of fans at each event. Truly, this is STEM at work!

S.T.E.M = Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math


EVENT A: Write It Do It

DESCRIPTION: One student will write a description of an object and how to build it, and then the other will attempt to construct the object from this description.


  • Team members are shown an object built from marshmallows and toothpicks. (2 Structures)
  • Both team members have 10 minutes to write a description of the object and how to build it. Only numerals and words are allowed. Symbols, drawings, and diagrams are not allowed.
  • Team members will then pass the description to the opposite team member who will take the written description and attempt to build the original object in 10 minutes.


  • The team that builds the object nearest the original and has properly written instructions is declared the winner.
  • Points will be given for each piece of material placed in the proper connection and location compared to the model.

EVENT B: Straw Challenge

DESCRIPTION: To build the tallest tower out of 50 straws that will hold a designated load for 3 seconds.


  • Teams of 2-4
  • The tower must be constructed using only the drinking straws and masking tape.
  • The straws can be interconnected directly by sliding one end into another straw. Straws may be bent, cut or slit.
  • Students may not completely cover their structure with masking tape as reinforcement; tape is used at joints only. Tape may not be used to secure the tower to a table, base, ceiling or surface. You may not make a leg, brace, cone or column out of tape.
  • The tower must accommodate a load: tennis ball. The student must be able to balance the ball on the tower at the loading point for the tower to qualify.


  • Remember to measure your tower height before loading.
  • The height of the tower will be measured again once the tennis ball is placed on the structure. Use a flat surface to test the structure.
  • The tower that supports the load at the highest point is ranked first. If the tower does not support the load, it will be ranked BELOW the tower that did support the load based on tower height.

EVENT C: Catapults

DESCRIPTION: To design a catapult capable of launching a gummy bear in the air!


  • Teams of 2
  • Using the following materials, teams will design and construct an operational catapult: pencil, popsicle sticks, rubber bands, 2 wooden blocks, one gummy bear, and a 12 inch ruler.


  • A gummy bear is placed on the catapult and launched into the air. The distance from the front of the catapult to the fallen gummy bear is measured and recorded.
  • Your catapult must be powered entirely by mechanical means. You may use your fingers or hands as triggers, but not as a power source.
  • Do not eat or lose your projectile. Disqualification will result.
  • The furthest distance will be recorded and celebrated!

EVENT D: Estimania

DESCRIPTION: Measurement is a key component in science. Teams will be asked to estimate answers to questions using measurements. Types of measurements will include volume, time, and mass.


  • There are 3 estimation stations that will test your ability to estimate and compute a reasonable approximation. Each station will have a time allotment of 8 minutes.


  • Try your skill using reasoning, discussion, calculation, and observation. Work together to provide your BEST estimate. Place answers on the answer sheet.


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