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Division B Rules Clarifications

All Rulings on this page, which includes rulings from Nationals and New Jersey, are BINDING at ALL New Jersey tournaments.
A copy of all published clarifications will be provided to event officials at each tournament.

Rules clarifications for State Finals Tournaments are closed

Unpublished Judgements are NOT binding at New Jersey Tournaments and are at the event officials discretion.

Event rules for ALL Science Olympiad events printed in the 2016 Official Rules Manuals supersede any and all materials found at the "Science Olympiad Student Center Wiki" or anywhere else online. The "Science Olympiad Student Center Wiki" is not maintained by National Science Olympiad. National Science Olympiad does not publish any event rules online or any location other than the Official Paper Based Rules Manual or Event Rules Mobile Apps.

Jump to:

Air Trajectory - Bottle Rocket - Bridge Building - Crime Busters - Elastic Launched Glider - Experimental Design - Food Science - Fossils
Invasive Species - Mission Possible - Picture This - Scrambler - Wind Power - Write It-Do It

Air Trajectory

4.e. (4th sentence) should read "The far target may be anywhere up to 2.00 m (in intervals of 0.5 m for Regionals, 0.25 m for States, and 0.10 m for Nationals) to the right or left of the imaginary centerline." (18-Dec-2015)


Can the calibration of the device be electronic, if it is not a physical part of the device? (Meaning, it can be added, calibrated, and then removed before the firing of the device). (section: 3 / paragraph: h / line: 1)

Yes, tools are allowed to be electronic. Electronic devices may only used during calibration. (18-Dec-2015)


Team must provide unmodified light weight plastic or foam golf balls to be used as projectiles. Are practice plastic golf ball with holes on the side consider "Unmodified"? (section: 3. / paragraph: f / line: 1)

Yes, plastic golf balls purchased with holes in them are considered unmodified and are allowed. (18-Dec-2015)


Sand, Cat litter or simliar substances will not be used by event supervisors as recommended in Rule 4d. This is a limitation of our facilities. (28-Jan-2016)


May competitors be in front of the launch area BEFORE a launch? Specifically: Are competitors allowed to walk behind targets to instruct their partner in aiming their device? (section: 4 / paragraph: b / line: 1)

General rule #1 applies (https://www.soinc.org/ethics_rules). There is no prohibition in the rules about approaching or going behind the targets prior to a launch during their 8 min. time period (rule 4.f.) During a launch they must follow rule 4.b. Teams may be penalized if they disturb the competition area. (28-Jan-2016)


Can competitors use a laser as a material to help with setup, adjustment, and calibration of the device? General rules about laser use will be followed and the laser impounded. (section: 4 / paragraph: f / line: 1)

Yes, lasers may be used as a tool for setup, adjustment, & calibration of the device. They must be removed prior to launch. The laser policy posted on the National website must be followed. (28-Jan-2016)


Is a rope which extends from the device to the target considered a calibration tool? (section: 4 / paragraph: h / line: 1)

A rope can be considered a calibration tool as long as it is removed from the device during each launch. (28-Jan-2016)


The rule says a distance of at least 2.00 m must separate the targets. If the near target is on the 2 m centerline would it be legal for the far target to be 2m to the right or left perpendicular to the centerline 2 m mark? (section: 4. / paragraph: e. / line: 2-5)

Yes, that is allowable. (28-Jan-2016)


Regarding the use of electronics. Can an electric drill be brought to detach the weight and subsequently (after impound/before event) reattach the weight before launch? If so, does it need to be impounded? (section: 2 / paragraph: j / line: 1)

Yes a drill may be used as a tool and it does NOT need to be impounded. Please keep in mind that power outlets might not be available close to the competition area. (14-Feb-2016)

Can we re-inflate the air chamber after launch (ie: soda bottle, when it's crushed) using ambient air, to go back to it's original shape, or does it need to re-inflate itself? (section: 3 / paragraph: c / line: 1)

Yes,you may re-inflate the air chamber provided the chamber is at ambient pressure at launch. (14-Feb-2016)


3d states an 80cm cube may be used at "any orientation." This is not possible due to the further restrictions in 4a. (section: 3 / paragraph: d / line: 2)

Correct, if teams choose to use the max 80cm size, they are then limited in the orientations they may place the device in. Smaller devices will have more possible orientations available. (14-Feb-2016)


If a team qualifies for 2 bucket shots, must the bucket shot be constant for both shots or could the event supervisor select different locations for each bucket shot? (section: 4 / paragraph: i / line: 1)

There is only 1 location for the bucket which is the same for all teams and all launches. (14-Feb-2016)


Exactly what types of projectiles are allowed? (section: 3. / paragraph: f / line: 1)

Allowable projectiles under Rule 3f are

  • Unmodified Tennis Ball
  • Unmodified Racquet Ball
  • Umodified Ping-Pong Ball
  • Unmodified Light Weight Plastic Golf Balls
  • Unmodified Foam Practice Golf Balls (17-Feb-2016)


Can the triggering device be a rope permanently attached to the mass meaning it cannot detach from the mass? (section: 3 / paragraph: e / line: 2)

No, the triggering device separates itself from the launch device. Any parts remaining that are attached to the launching device after a shot are considered part of the launching device and must follow Rule 4c. (20-Feb-2016)


Can the Test Support block be anywhere in the loading zone, for example, slightly behind the 35 cm line if necessary? (section: 3 / paragraph: a / line: 2)

Per rule 5.b.ii. Teams may place the Test Support in one of the Bearing Zones, it does not need to be exactly on the 35 cm line. (27-Feb-2016)

Bottle Rocket

2. should read "Event Supervisors must provide one egg for each rocket, the launcher and water." (18-Dec-2015)


Is putting light pen marks or lines on the pressure vessel bottle considered physical, thermal, or chemical damage? (section: 3 / paragraph: b / line: 2)

Writing on the bottle would not be physical damage unless the person doing the writing did something out of the ordinary which damages the structural integrity of the pressure vessel. (18-Dec-2015)

Bridge Building

Does this mean that the loading block shall be aligned with the centerline of the test base, or is it acceptable for the loading block location to be off to one side as long as it allows for the chain pass through the 20cmx20cm opening of the test? (section: 3 / paragraph: e / sub-paragraph: N/A / line: N/A)

The loading block is to be aligned with the centerline of the test base which would be the center of the Bridge span when it is placed on the Test Support on one side and the Bearing Zone of the Test Base on the other side. (18-Dec-2015)


Will the 5 by 5 block be secured to the testing apparatus? (section: 4 / paragraph: c / sub-paragraph: i / line: 1)

No, the 2 cm x 5 cm x 5 cm block will not be secured to the Test Base. (18-Dec-2015)


If the bridge is loaded not to failure of the bridge, but rather the test support falls over, how will the bridge be scored (will there be a second try) ? (section: 5 / paragraph: b / sub-paragraph: i / line: 1)

If the test support falls over, loading will stop and the weight held at that time will be used to calculate the final score. There will not be a second try at testing the bridge. (18-Dec-2015)

Crime Busters

Competitors should be familiar with polymer burn tests. Burn tests will be permitted in a hood with adult supervision. (01-Mar-2016)

Elastic Launched Glider

Union County College Regional Only - The dimensions of the gym are 60' wide by 90' long by 22.5' high with beams at 20' at the lowest point. (21-Dec-2015)
NJIT Regional Only - The Dimensions of the Namoli Center are 200' x 107' with a height of 33' at the center and 16' at the lowest points (19-Dec-2015)
State Finals Only - The Dimensions of the MCC Gym are 225' x 143' x 28', however the Gym will be shared with three event (Air Trajectory, Elastic Launched Glider & Wright Stuff) (02-Sep-2015)


There will be no method provided to retrieve gliders which get stuck in the rafters. Consider this factor when determing how close you plan to get the to rafters. (28-Jan-2016)


The rules state that "The functional components MAY be attached to each other using tape, thread or glue. However could the wing or horizontal stabilizer be attached to the fuselage stick by way of a rubber band? (section: 3 / paragraph: b / line: 3)

No, rubber bands are specifically not allowed to attach the wing or stabilizer to the fuselage for safety. The wing or stabilizer could become separated from the fuselage during launch. (18-Dec-2015)


Does the flight time stop when the glider touches a light or AC fixture or brushes against a wall since, it technically stops for a brief moment and then continues flight, or is it just if it perches on a fixture? (section: 4 / paragraph: l / line: 3-5)

No, the flight time only stops when the glider is no longer supporting its own weight. This can include landing on the floor or getting hung up on any sort of obstacle. Simply touching something does not stop flight time. (28-Jan-2016)


Is not having flight logs 30% deduction in score only or 30% deduction and tier/ranking issue? (section: 5 / paragraph: d / line: 1)

Not having a flight log is only a 30% deduction in score, it does not effect the tier. (14-Feb-2016)

Experimental Design

Rule 4.e. requests to list all materials used. Should the list of used materials be only a subset of materials provided in Rule 3.a? Should student list goggle, pen, paper, stop watch, ruler, calculator or number of participants in the experiment? (section: 3 / paragraph: a / line: 1)

The materials list contains the equipment (e.g. stopwatch, glassware, etc.) and supplies (e.g. chemicals) used in the experiment. You should include the precision of the measuring device being used (e.g. ruler marked off in millimeters, 250 ml beaker. ) You do not need to list safety equipment, writing implements, calculators, or number of participants helping with the experiment. (28-Jan-2016)


Can students bring a meter stick in addition to a ruler? (section: 2 / line: 2)

Yes. Each student may bring in any type of ruler. (20-Feb-2016)

Food Science

May students bring pipettes to measure the drops of lemon juice/vinegar? The rules do not specifically require event supervisors to provide them and if the student's prior research was measured using drops, they will need them. (section: 2 / paragraph: a / line: 5)

No, the students can not bring pipettes. The event supervisor may provide them, but the students should not plan on that. (18-Dec-2015)


Can students bring something to "fasten" the cheesecloth over the beaker such as a rubber band or will that be provided by the event supervisor? (section: 3 / paragraph: b / sub-paragraph: ii / line: 3)

Students may only bring what is listed in the rules. All other materials should be provided by the event supervisor. (18-Dec-2015)


The rule says using heavy cream. We only found heavy whipping cream in supermarkets. Can we use heavy whipping cream for our experiments? (section: 3 / paragraph: b / sub-paragraph: iii / line: 4)

Yes, Heavy Cream and Heavy whipping cream are similar differing with the percentage of fat. Heavy cream is about 36% and heavy whipping cream is about 30% milk fat. The students should practice with different types of cream because you don't know what type of cream the event supervisor will provide for this Lab. (18-Dec-2015)


Do the plastic bottles have to be exactly 500-600 mL or can there be slight variations in size such as pint (~450 mL) or a quart (~800 mL) plastic containers that are readily available to students in supermarkets. (section: 2 / paragraph: a / line: 3)

Normal plastic drink bottles ( water or soda) are between 500 and 600 ml. This is why that range was chosen. It will be up to the event supervisor to determine how close to that range they will accept. Teams should be prepared to stay within that range. (28-Jan-2016)


May the cups or spoons be measuring cups and measuring spoons? (section: 2 / paragraph: a / line: 3)

Yes. (28-Jan-2016)


Must the 500-600 mL plastic container with lid have a manufacturer's mark indicating the volume or can the students use a container that they have determined to be in the 500-600 mL range by their own measurements? (section: 2 / paragraph: a / line: 4-5)

The requirement is that the container be 500-600 ml. There is no requirement that the container have a manufacturer label to that effect. (28-Jan-2016)


Rule 2.b. states that Supervisors will provide "… other reagents or equipment to complete the experimental activities." My Question: Does this include timers so that the when conducting the lab tasks, each team can time their experiment in... (section: 2 / paragraph: b / line: 2)

Yes, students may bring a timer. (28-Jan-2016)


Do we have to know the chemical structure of all types of sugars, starches, etc. or just ones that pertain to dairy? (section: 3 / line: 3)

All test questions should be related to dairy food science. (28-Jan-2016)


When the curds have been drained for 15 minutes, are they to be squeezed and dried before determining the mass of the curds? (section: 3 / paragraph: b / sub-paragraph: ii / line: 4)

Yes, they should be dry. Please see the training guide posted on the National Website under Food Science. (28-Jan-2016)


50 minutes does not seem long enough to complete two tasks and the written test. How much time is allotted for the written test? (section: 4 / paragraph: a,b,c / line: 1)

The written test may be given during the entire time period so the students may work on it during the experiment portion. This is up to the event supervisor. (28-Jan-2016)


This rule says the difference between the ES's mass and the student's mass is to be scored. Rule 4 b. ii does not score the difference when student mass > ES mass. Which rule applies in that case? (section: 3 / paragraph: b / sub-paragraph: ii / line: 2)

10 points is the maximum number of points. The masses will be confirmed by the event supervisor and points awarded based on their measurements. If the students mass > ES mass, the team will score 10 points. (14-Feb-2016)


May a team modify the notebook form found on the National web site in order to expand it to include pictures without suffering a penalty? Or must it only be one page? (section: 3 / paragraph: a / line: 2, 3)

The Food Science Experiment Form may be expanded to include all that is required to be documented for each experiment. (20-Feb-2016)


If a student does a set of different experiments for a lab task, are they to change what the independent variable is each time? Or are they supposed to repeat the task experiment over and over again using the same independent variable? (section: 3 / paragraph: a / line: 5)

Each Experiment will have one Independent Variable that must be tested at 2 or more Levels (examples of Levels would be different Levels of milk fat, different quantities of the Independent Variable; different length of time mixing or shaking; different types of acid; etc.). These Levels do not need to be repeated in multiple Trials but can be and should be included on the same Experiment Template. According to the rules there is no expectation of multiple Trials so there will not be penalties or bonuses for the lack of multiple Trials or inclusion of multiple Trials. Each Task (Curds, Butter, or Ice Cream) requires a minimum of 3 different experiments. Each of these different experiments must have different Independent Variables or they should be counted as duplications and receive no credit. (20-Feb-2016)


Note book Recording findings in the experiment form: can the kids type the findings in a word document or it needs to be hand written with pen or pencil? section: 3 / paragraph: A / line: 2)

The experiments may be typed and placed in the Notebook. (27-Feb-2016)


The correct spelling for Sarcoptergii is Sarcopterygii, also corrected were Calymene and Ichthyosauria (all 3 now corrected in green on the Official Fossil List on www.soinc.org) (18-Dec-2015)

Invasive Species

My question is about the official national list of invasive species. Under vids, it lists Bird Flu, H5N5. Does this mean only H5N5, or could it include other strains of bird flu? I.e., should the kids really only be researching H5N5? (section: 2 / paragraph: 1 / line: 4)

Yes, H5N5 is the only Bird Flu on the National Official List. Check with your State or Regional Director if they will be using a different list. (18-Dec-2015)

Mission Possible

4.d.iii. first sentence should read "Inclined Planes must be stationary and have an object pushed or pulled at least 10cm up and along the surface of the inclined plane to count for points." (18-Dec-2015)


Can there be a release of stored energy between the two simple machines in a transfer or does the output of the first simple machine have to directly drive the input of next one? (section: 4 / paragraph: c / line: 1)

Yes, there can be a release of stored energy between the two simple machines in a transfer. No, the output of the first simple machine does not have to directly drive the input of next one. (18-Dec-2015)


Can the second simple machine in a transfer be the first simple machine in the next transfer? (section: 4 / paragraph: c / line: 1)

Yes. (18-Dec-2015)


Does a toy car rolling down a ramp count as a wheel and axle? (section: 3 / paragraph: e / line: 1)

No. A wheel and axle (as a simple machine) requires an input on the wheel or axle and an output on the other end (axle or wheel). A toy car rolling down a ramp does not satisfy the requirements of transferring from one simple machine to another (see rule 3.d). (08-Jan-2016)


If there is a wheel on a threaded axle that acts as a screw, is this 2 simple machines (wheel and axle to screw) or only one? If it is one, which one is it? (section: 3 / paragraph: e / line: 1)

Each simple machine must complete the requirement listed in the rules before the next machine's requirements start to be counted. If this does not happen only one of the simple machines will count for a score as long as it completes its listed requirement. (08-Jan-2016)


Must there be a non-scorable simple machine between two scorable transfers? (section: 3 / paragraph: J / line: J)

No, there does not need to be a non-scorable simple machine between two scorable transfers. Scorable transfers are based upon the first simple machine in a transfer. The second simple machine of the first transfer can then become the scored first simple machine of the next transfer. (08-Jan-2016)


Is a transfer scorable if it is a transfer from one Class of Lever to a different Class of Lever (e.g. Lever 1st Class --> Lever 2nd Class)?

No, you can not have a scorable transfer from one Class Lever to a different Class of Lever. They are classified as the same type of Simple Machine, just different classes. See rule 4.c. (08-Jan-2016)


Just want to clarify the "10cm up the inclined plane to count for points," is the 10cm along the inclined plane surface, not the vertical distance between where the lower point the object starts and the higher point where the object ends up. (section: 4 / paragraph: d / sub-paragraph: iii / line: 1)

Yes, an object must travel upward at least 10 cm along the surface of an inclined plane. The 10 cm minimum required distance is not the vertical distance between the lower starting point of the object and the higher point where the object ended. (28-Jan-2016)


Will a needle popping a balloon (assuming the energy is still transfered to the next simple machine) count as a wedge transfer for points? (section: 4 / paragraph: d / sub-paragraph: iv / line: 1)

No, this will not qualify as a wedge separating two touching objects. (28-Jan-2016)


To count for points, does the screw itself have to move, or can we have an object move around the threads of a screw? (section: 4 / paragraph: d / sub-paragraph: v / line: 1)

According to rule 4.d.v., the "screw must complete at least one full rotation..." An object moving around the threads of a stationary screw will not satisfy this requirement. (28-Jan-2016)


Does both the wheel and axle have to turn one full rotation (360) or can it just be the wheel that turns 360? (section: 4 / paragraph: d / sub-paragraph: vi / line: 1)

The simple machine of a Wheel and Axle is a larger wheel fixed to a smaller axle and a mechanical advantage is gained by the ratio of the difference in their diameters. So if the wheel turns 360 degrees and the axle does not turn 360 degrees, it is not a wheel and axle simple machine because they are not fixed together. (28-Jan-2016)


If the final task fails and the bell does not ring on its own can the student ring the bell as per rule 4j to stop time as per rule 4i. (section: 4 / paragraph: j / line: 1)

Yes, the student may ring the bell. They will incur a 15 point penalty for a touch and they will not receive the final task points. rule 4.l. Any obvious stalling to gain a time advantage must result in disqualification. Rule 4.j. (28-Jan-2016)


Does Start task count as 1 of 18 transfers? (section: 5 / paragraph: h / line: 1)

The completed Start Task - "dropping an unaltered, regulation-sized racquetball into the device to initiate the first action" can not be listed as the first scoreable transfer. The first action (simple machine) initiated by the Start Task may be the initial type of machine in the first scoreable transfer (rule 4.c.1.) and must be listed on a separate line on the TSL. See posted TSL sample on the National website. (28-Jan-2016)


Is it necessary that the separated object travel in perpendicular direction to the direction of the wedge or can it be parallel to the direction of the movement of the wedge? (section: 4 / paragraph: d / sub-paragraph: IV / line: 1)

A wedge as a simple machine functions by converting a force applied to its blunt end into forces perpendicular (normal) to its inclined surfaces. (14-Feb-2016)

Picture This

Rules state that acceptable symbols are arrows, plus sign or minus sign. Often in competitions students will draw a picture and circle that part of the picture they want the guesser to focus on. Is this allowed? (section: 3 / paragraph: e / sub-paragraph: - / line: -)

A circle as a drawing wherever it occurs is allowed as long as it does not represent or is not interpreted as a Zero or a letter. (18-Dec-2015)


The paragraph (3c) about visual cues with hand/body includes a statement that a word can be broken into parts. Does that mean it can be indicated by a visual cue with hand/body? Note there is no written symbol in paragraph 3e for breaking a word. (section: 3 / paragraph: e / line: 2)

No, students cannot give a visual clue about the number of words or breaking a word into parts. Rule 3.e allows a student to use uniform length dashes to indicate the number of words (not syllables). (28-Jan-2016)


If a word contains a hyphen, can the drawer put one along with lines to show number of words? Thank you. (section: 3 / paragraph: e / sub-paragraph: - / line: -)

No. Putting the hyphen along with the line would partly spell the word. (28-Jan-2016)


Does the "0.9 m in any dimension" limit go beyond width, depth and height to include all possible diagonal dimensions? (section: 2 / paragraph: a / line: 3)

No, "0.9 m in any dimension" refers only to width, depth, and height. (27-Feb-2016)

Wind Power

Is the CD that the blades are mounted to only held on to the generator by the detent balls on a CD player or can extra support be provided such as double sided adhesive tape to strengthen the joint? (section: 3 / paragraph: b / line: 1)

Yes, as long as the tape is easily removable and does not impact other subsequent teams' testing. (18-Dec-2015)


Rules state that "Power generator general questions...."Does this refer to the general question of how electrical power is generated in each of these types of power plants or specifically to the generator itself? (section: 4 / paragraph: l / sub-paragraph: ii / line: 1)

Anything related to power generators in general is a valid question, which could include aspects of the power plants. (18-Dec-2015)

Write It - Do It

Do "scientific symbols" include math symbols, such as the circle symbol for degrees or the angle symbol? (section: 2 / paragraph: a / line: 1)

Yes, these symbols are allowed as long as they fit within the context of the written description. (08-Jan-2016)


May students use abbreviations that appear as keys on th standard keyboard, e.g. &, # and @ ? (section: 2 / paragraph: b / line: 4)

Yes, this year's rules allow these types of abbreviations without defining them. (08-Jan-2016)


With the elimination of the keyboard requirement, is it acceptable to underline or circle words? What about arrows? (section: 2 / paragraph: b. / line: 4-7)

Yes, these are all acceptable with the new rules this year as long as they fit within the context of the written description. (08-Jan-2016)


How do drawings or diagrams of items such as a compass rose, clock-face, or any other drawing or diagram be scored? (section: 3 / paragraph: d / line: 1)

Written descriptions that contain drawings and diagrams will be ranked in Tier 2. (This is based on rule 3.d.) If the drawing depicts the model, team will be eliminated. (28-Jan-2016)


If a student writes something like "Shape the pipe cleaner in the shape of the letter 'L'." in their instructions, is that considered either a diagram or a picture of the model, with a commensurate penalty? (section: 3d / line: 1-2)

Yes, if the student is giving instructions on the location or orientation of the object, an "L" would be a drawing, along with a ">" or "+" used in the same manner. No, if the student is describing the proper size and color of the object, i.e., "using the scrabble tile with the "L" on it". Another example: "place battery with "+" sign facing up". Students may write, "in the shape of ... whatever" (where "whatever" is a common shape, e.g., circle, square, angle), but may not actually draw the shape (e.g., specifically drawing the shape, like a squiggly line), which could put them in Tier 2. (27-Feb-2016)