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.
Unpublished Judgements are NOT binding at New Jersey Tournaments and are at the event official's discretion.
Clarifications for 2017 are now closed
Event rules for ALL Science Olympiad events printed in the 2017 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.
Anatomy & Physiology - Bio-Process Lab - Bottle Rocket - Crime Busters - Dynamic Planet - Ecology - Fast Facts - Food Science
Hovercraft - Microbe Mission - Mission Possible - Rocks and Minerals - Towers - Wright Stuff
Anatomy & Physiology
Glaucoma may be tested for the Nervous System and the Sense Organs at all three levels (Regional, State and National). (21-Nov-2016)
Bio-Process lab will be held as a WRITEN EXAM without any lab activites. Goggles will not be required (22-Feb-2016)
(Section: 3 / Paragraph: a / Line: 1)
IS IT MANDATORY FOR THE PRESSURE VESSEL TO BE MADE FROM A CARBONATED BEVERAGE BOTTLE OR CAN IT BE MADE OF A REGULAR DRINKING WATER PLASTIC BOTTLE?
The pressure vessel MUST be made from a carbonated beverage bottle that is 1 liter or less in capacity. Plain water bottles do not fit the criteria. Carbonated water bottles would fit the criteria.
Rule 2.a.xi: should read: "Each team may bring five 8.5" x 11" sheets of paper 5 (both sides) containing information in any form from any source (sheet protectors are permitted)." (21-Nov-2016)
(Section: 3 / Paragraph: d / Line: 2)
ARE THE BASINS LIMITED TO ONLY THOSE MENTIONED IN PARENTHESES, OR CAN OTHERS BE INCLUDED AS WELL?
The test should be limited to the types of basins listed in the parentheses.
(Section: 3 / Paragraph: b. / Sub-Paragraph: iv. / Line: 2)
"SIMPSON INDEX" CAN BE LOOSELY APPLIED TO 3 DIFFERENT VALUES (AND CALCULATIONS) DEPENDING ON THE AUTHOR/SOURCE: SIMPSON'S INDEX, SIMPSON'S INDEX OF DIVERSITY AND SIMPSON'S RECIPROCAL INDEX. THIS SHOULD BE CLARIFIED.
Students should be familiar with all three. If used for the National competition the national supervisor will specify which is being used. We have chosen to define the Simpson index, p as the proportion (n/N) of individuals of one particular species found (n) divided by the total number of individuals found (N), Σ is still the sum of the calculations, and s is the number of species. This information can be found on the files distributed at coaches clinics and will also be on the SO website once the clinics are over.
(Section: 3 / Paragraph: i / Line: 4-5)
ARE ELEMENTAL SYMBOLS CONSIDERED TO BE ABBREVIATIONS? FOR EXAMPLE, COULD NA BE A VALID ANSWER FOR AN ELEMENT BEGINNING WITH THE LETTER N OR MUST "SODIUM" BE USED?
It depends on the description of the category. If the category was "name of element" then the atomic symbol could not be used. If it was "nuclear (atomic) symbol" then the name could not be used. However, if the category was "element" or "chemical element" the student could use either the name of the element or the nuclear (atomic) symbol. Please note that if the category was "name of chemical compound" and the letters were "N" and "S" the student could not use "NaCl" and "sodium chloride" as both terms are different forms for the same substance. (rule 3.g)
(Section: 3 / Paragraph: N/A / Sub-Paragraph: N/A / Line: N/A )
IF A CATEGORY REQUIRES THE NAME OF AN ORGANISM TO BE GIVEN, SHOULD SCIENTIFIC OR COMMON NAME BE USED? EXAMPLE: IF THE CATEGORY WAS "INVASIVE SPECIES", WOULD YOU WRITE ZEBRA MUSSEL OR DREISSENA POLYMORPHA?
It depends on the category description. If it said "Invasive Species" then either the common or scientific name would be acceptable. Please note if the answer has more than one word, the first letter of the 1st word is used (rule 3.f). Rule 3.g. also allows students to get credit for only one form of a response.
(Section: 3 / Paragraph: H / Line: 1)
IF A FAMOUS PERSON IS GENERALLY KNOWN BY ONLY ONE NAME "ARCHIMEDES" OR "GALILEO", CAN STUDENTS USE THE NAME?
No, per section 3.h. "If the category asks for the name of a person, both the given (first) and surname (last) of a person must be written. Archimedes' full name is Archimedes of Syracuse and Galileo's full name is Galileo Galilei.
(Section: 3 / Paragraph: b / Line: 1)
IN OUR ANSWERS MUST OUR TERMS BE SCIENTIFIC OR CAN WE ALSO SAY COMMON KNOWN NAMES OR NICKNAMES? SUCH AS WOULD YOU ACCEPT FLU INSTEAD OF INFLUENZA?
It depends on how the category is phrased. If it does not specifically ask for scientific name then either are correct. Rule 3.g prevents students from using different forms of the same term apply. So if the letters in the grid were "f" and "i" the student would only get credit for either flu or influenza, but not both.
(Section: 3 / Paragraph: a / Line: 2-4)
WHEN SUPERVISORS CREATE GRIDS FOR COMPETITION, MUST THEY ENSURE THERE IS A VALID ENTRY FOR EACH LETTER/CATEGORY COMBINATION? IN OTHER WORDS, MAY A GRID BE CREATED WHERE ONE CELL DOESN'T HAVE A KNOWN VALID ANSWER?
No, supervisors do not have to ensure there is a valid entry for each letter/category combination. Yes, a grid may be created where one cell doesn't have a known valid answer.
(Section: 3 / Paragraph: a / Line: 2)
WHAT DOES "ANY SEED" MEAN?
Definition of seed. : a small object produced by a plant from which a new plant can grow This requires the knowledge that NO part of the fruit may be used because over time it can become rotten and students should not be exposed or working with this part in any capacity. Therefore, it is truly the smallest component from which a new plant can grow.
4.i. should read: "Brushless motors and integrated circuits are not permitted, unless they are an integral part of and are imbedded into a commerically available electronic or computer cooling fan." (9/12/16)
(Section: 4 / Paragraph: k / Line: 1)
CAN TEAMS USE A REMOTE CONTROL TO START AND/OR STOP THEIR HOVERCRAFT?
No, as any remote control system would violate either the dimension requirements or the prohibition on integrated circuits.
(Section: 4 / Paragraph: h / Line: 1)
CAN WE CONNECT TWO 9V BATTERIES IN PARALLEL? VOLTAGE ACROSS ANY POINTS WILL NOT EXCEED 9V AS THEY ARE CONNECTED IN PARALLEL. THIS JUST GIVES US HIGHER CURRENT CAPACITY TO DRIVE TWO MOTORS.
Yes, this would be allowed.
(Section: 1 / Line: 1)
DESCRIPTION STATE "MAY CONSTRUCT". CAN STUDENTS USE COMMERCIAL KITS OR MODELS OR SHOULD THEY BE BUILT "FROM SCRATCH".
Commercial kits may be used, as long as the SO building policy is followed: https://www.soinc.org/building_tools_policy
(Section: 4 / Paragraph: i / Sub-Paragraph: N/A / Line: 1)
DO COMMERCIALLY AVAILABLE SWITCHES, SUCH AS DIMMER SWITCHES, COUNT AS INTEGRATED CIRCUITS?
It depends on the specific switch. Some switches are purely mechanical (i.e. utilize a potentiometer) and are allowed. Others are digital (i.e. utilize an integrated circuit) and are not allowed.
(Section: 4 / Paragraph: j / Line: 1)
FOR THE DEFINITION OF A "CUSHION OF AIR": DOES THE AIR HAVE TO HAVE A WAY OUT OF THE CUSHION ON THE BOTTOM OR SIDES, OR CAN IT BE DESIGNED SIMILAR TO AN AIR MATTRESS?
Yes because it is not hovering unless air is coming out. The air must have some way of escaping (i.e. it should need to be actively replenished for the device to work, not just be a sealed inflatable chamber).
(Section: 4 / Paragraph: j / Line: 4)
HOW HIGH MUST THE HOVERCRAFT HOVER?
There is no set distance it must hover. If an event supervisor, from a normal observation point without having to get up and close to the hovercraft, can visually see it move down when pushed, then yes it levitates.
(Section: 2, 3 / Paragraph: 5, 6 / Sub-Paragraph: f, b / Line: 1,1)
IN SECTION 2, PARAGRAPH 5, SUB PARAGRAPH F, THE RULES MENTION A TARGET TIME AND THEN IDENTIFY IT FOR C ONLY. IN SECTION 3, PARAGRAPH 6, SUBPARAGRAPH B, THE SCORING SAYS THE TIME SCORE GIVES A CALCULATION INVOLVING A TARGET TIME. PLEASE CLARIFY.
5.f. doesn't identify the target time for C only. It only mentions that the target length will be announced for Div. C only (since Div. B already knows the target length). The target time concept applies to both B and C. The reference to Div C is for the variable length that must be announced.
(Section: 4 / Paragraph: i / Line: 1)
IS A BREADBOARD WITH RESISTORS AND/OR TRANSFORMERS CONSIDERED AND INTEGRATED CIRCUIT?
No. A breadboard with discrete resistors and/or basic transformers is not an integrated circuit. Note though that some types of resistors and transformers ARE integrated circuits and hence are not allowed.
(Section: 4 / Paragraph: i / Line: 1)
IS AN ARDUINO AN INTEGRATED CIRCUIT?
Yes, an Arduino contains many integrated circuits and is not legal.
(Section: 4 / Paragraph: b / Line: 1-2)
IS THE MAXIMUM DIMENSIONS OF THE SKIRT 19.5 X 30 CM WHEN THE HOVERCRAFT IS INFLATED OR DEFLATED? CAN THE SKIRT BE LARGER THAN THOSE DIMENSIONS WHEN THE MOTOR IS NOT RUNNING?
The maximum dimension of the skirt is the same as the device, 19.5 cm wide x 30 cm long, both inflated and deflated. Students may tuck the uninflated skirt under the device prior to inflation.
(Section: 4 / Paragraph: h / Line: 1)
IS THE TOTAL VOLTAGE FOR THE HOVERCRAFT 9V, OR IS 9 VOLTS THE MAXIMUM RATED FOR EACH CIRCUIT? FOR EXAMPLE, MAY I HAVE A SEPARATE 9V BATTERY FOR EACH MOTOR IF THEY ARE NOT LINKED?
Yes, multiple batteries may be used as long as they are not connected in such a way that the voltage exceeds 9 V in any circuit. Separate 9 V circuits are allowed.
(Section: 5 / Paragraph: f / Sub-Paragraph: N/A / Line: 1)
IS THERE AN INTERVAL FOR THE TARGET TIME OF THE COMPETITION. EX-- BETWEEN 5.0-25.0S IN INTERVALS OF 1 SECOND
(Section: 4 / Paragraph: e / Line: 1)
PLEASE DEFINE WHAT THE PROPELLER SHIELDING IS (1/4 IN DIAMETER?).
The propeller(s) must be enclosed in such a way that there are no holes bigger than 1/4" in diameter in the enclosure. A 1/4" dowel rod must not be able to penetrate the material.
(Section: 4 / Paragraph: g / Line: 1)
THE 1/4" OR LARGER DOWEL. CAN ANY MATERIAL BE USED (I.E. WOOD, PLASTIC, METAL), AND MUST IT BE SOLID OR CAN IT BE AN OPTICALLY OPAQUE TUBE MEETING THE SPECIFIED DIMENSIONS AND PURPOSE OF BREAKING A LIGHT BEAM?
The dowel can be any material, but by definition a dowel is a solid cylindrical rod, hence a straw is not allowed.
(Section: 4 / Paragraph: i / Line: 1)
THE CLARIFICATION ON THIS RULE IS NOT ENTIRELY CLEAR. IF I FOUND A COMMERCIALLY-AVAILABLE PRODUCT CONTAINING A BRUSHLESS MOTOR ATTACHED TO A FAN, MUST IT BE LABELED AS A "COOLING FAN" TO BE LEGAL?
No. As long as it is a fan typically used for cooling electronics or computers it does not need to be labeled as such.
(Section: Constr / Paragraph: i / Line: 1)
THE RULES SAY THAT BRUSHLESS MOTORS AND INTEGRATED CIRCUITS ARE NOT PERMITTED, DOES THIS JUST REFER TO INTEGRATED CIRCUITS TO CONTROL MOTORS OR THINGS LIKE ADJUSTABLE VOLTAGE REGULATORS AND ARDUINOS.
Note there is an official rules clarification related to this, available at: https://www.soinc.org/official_rules_clarif The integrated circuit prohibition refers to all components (including voltage regulators / arduinos) other than those specified in the rules clarification.
(Section: 4 / Paragraph: i / Sub-Paragraph: n/a / Line: 1)
WHAT CONSTITUTES AN INTEGRATED CIRCUIT?(IE. ARE RESISTORS, CAPACITORS, TRANSISTORS ALLOWED? OPERATIONAL AMPLIFIERS?)
An integrated circuit is a circuit in which all or some of the circuit elements are inseparably associated and electrically interconnected so that it is considered to be indivisible for the purposes of construction and commerce. Most resistors and capacitors are not integrated circuits. Nearly all transistors and op-amps are integrated circuits.
see the new list of Microbial Diseases: The Life Science committee has limited Potato Blight to Early Potato Blight and will accept the terms Ebola and Chlamydia. (21-Nov-2016)
Rule 4.d.i: should read: "See 5.l. for additional levers bonus." (21-Nov-2016)
(Section: 4 / Paragraph: d / Sub-Paragraph: iii / Line: 2)
REGARDING INCLINED PLANES IT STATES "RAISED VERTICALLY AT LEAST 10.0 CM". DOES THAT MEAN RAISED 90 DEGREES FROM THE GROUND OR JUST 10.0 CM IN AN UPWARD DIRECTION ALONG THE INCLINED PLANE?
An inclined plane must be used to raise an object at least 10.0 cm vertically. The vertical distance is measured at a 90 degree angle and must be at least 10.0 cm. The object does not have to travel at a 90 degree angle but overall must rise 10.0 cm vertically above where it started before the object initiates the next action.
(Section: 4 / Paragraph: d / Sub-Paragraph: ii / Line: 1)
STATES "LIFT AN OBJECT AT LEAST 10.0 CM VERTICALLY". DOES THAT MEAN IT MUST BE LIFTED AT 90 DEGREES FROM THE STARTING POINT OR JUST MOVED IN AN UPWARDS ANGLE AT LEAST 10.0 CMS?
The pulley must lift an object at least 10.0 cm. The vertical distance is measured at a 90 degree angle and must be at least 10.0 cm. The object does not have to travel at a 90 degree angle but overall must rise 10.0 cm vertically above where it started before the object initiates the next action.
(Section: 4 / Paragraph: d / Sub-Paragraph: vi / Line: 2)
WHEEL & AXLE: IS THE 10 CM VERTICAL HEIGHT OR DISTANCE THAT OBJECT IS PULLED BY WHEEL AND AXLE?
The Wheel & Axle must lift an object at least 10.0 cm vertically. The vertical distance is measured at a 90 degree angle and must be at least 10.0 cm. The object does not have to travel at a 90 degree angle but overall must rise 10.0 cm vertically above where it started before the object initiates the next action.
Rocks and Minerals
Camden County College and Union County College Regionals Only: One Field Guide will be permitted to be used by each team. Photocopying field guides to put them ni the 3-ring binder is a waste of paper. The field guide is in addition to materials placed in the 3-ring binder. (18-Dec-2016)
(Section: 5 / Paragraph: b / Sub-Paragraph: v / Line: 1)
FOR THE LOAD SCORED BONUS, THE TOWER MUST BE CLEAR OF THE 29.0 CM DIAMETER CIRCLE. IS THIS DURING SETUP ONLY OR ALSO DURING LOADING (PRIOR TO TOWER FAILURE)?
The Load Scored Bonus is awarded only if the tower is outside of the 29.0 cm diameter circle through the entire testing. If the tower sags inside of the 29.0 cm circle during testing but the bucket remains off the ground and the tower is still outside the 20.0 x 20.0 cm opening on the Test Base, testing will continue until failure occurs as defined in the rules.
State Finals Tournament Only: The MCC Gym dimensions are 225' x 143' x 28'. This event space will be shared with the Helicopters event. It is not possible to retrieve any devices that get stuck in the beams. We cannot control the ventilation system in the event room and we cannot control entry/exit to the room. (12-Feb-2017)
NJIT Regional Only: The Namoli Center dimensions are 200' x 107'. 16' 8" high at the lowest point and 33' high at the peak. This event space will be shared with the Helicopters event. It is not possible to retrieve any devices that get stuck in the beams. We cannot control the ventilation system in the event room and we cannot control entry/exit to the room. (21-Nov-2016)
Union County College Regional Only: The Gym dimensions are 60' x 90' and 19' 10" high at the beams. This event space will be shared with the Helicopters event. It is not possible to retrieve any devices that get stuck in the beams. We cannot control the ventilation system in the event room and we cannot control entry/exit to the room. (21-Nov-2016)