Greene SciOly Club

Greene SciOly (Science Olympiad) is a competition-based STEM club run at Greene Middle School by members of Paly’s award-winning SciOly Club. It usually has 2 teams of 15 students each year preparing for competitions across 23 events in the Santa Clara Regional Science Olympiad in March. Another 2 teams of 5 prepare for competition in the California South/West Bay Area Regional Middle School Science Bowl in February.

Who Should Join?

Self-motivated students who love science, work well with others, and are willing to put in extra time to learn and work with team members after school. Best suited for students who thrive on competition.

Is there a Placement Test?

Yes, club members will be tested for current science and engineering skills as well as potential to learn. Test results will be used for event placement.

What's Science Olympiad?

Science Olympiad (aka SciOly) is a team-based STEM competition where teams of 15 students compete with other teams across 23 events listed below. There are usually 2 students per event, and each student participates in 3-4 events.

Science Olympiad 2019 Events


  1. Anatomy and Physiology – Participants will be assessed on their understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the cardiovascular, lymphatic, and excretory systems.
  2. Battery Buggy – Teams will construct a vehicle that uses electrical energy as its sole means of propulsion, quickly travels a specified distance, and stops as close as possible to the Finish Point.
  3. Boomilever – Prior to the competition teams design and build a boomilever (aka cantilever) meeting requirements supporting a minimum load and to achieve the highest structural efficiency.
  4. Crime Busters – Given a scenario, a collection of evidence, and possible suspects, students will perform a series of tests. The test results along with other evidence will be used to solve a crime.
  5. Density Lab – Participants compete in activities and answer questions about mass, density, number density, area density, concentration, pressure, and buoyancy.
  6. Disease Detectives – Students will use their investigative skills in the scientific study of disease, injury, health, and disability in populations or groups of people.
  7. Dynamic Planet – Students will use process skills to complete tasks related to glaciation and long-term climate change.
  8. Elastic Launched Glider – Prior to the competition teams design, construct, and test elastic-launched gliders to achieve the maximum time aloft.
  9. Experimental Design – This event will determine a team’s ability to design, conduct, and report the findings of an experiment actually conducted on site.
  10. Fossils – Teams demonstrate their knowledge of ancient life by completing selected tasks at a series of stations including but not limited to fossil identification, answering questions about classification, habitat, ecologic relationships, behaviors, environmental adaptations and the use of fossils to date and correlate rock units.
  11. Game On – This event will determine a team's ability to design and build an original computer game using the program Scratch incorporating the scientific theme provided to them by the supervisor.
  12. Heredity – Participants will solve problems and analyze data or diagrams using their knowledge of the basic principles of genetics.
  13. Herpetology – This event will test student knowledge of amphibians and reptiles including turtles and crocodilians.
  14. Meteorology – This event emphasizes understanding of basic meteorological principles with emphasis on analysis and interpretation of meteorological data, graphs, charts, and images related to Everyday Weather.
  15. Mystery Architecture – At the beginning of the event, teams will be given a bag of building materials and instructions for designing and building a device that can be tested.
  16. Potions and Poisons – This event is about chemical properties and effects of specified toxic and therapeutic chemical substances, with a focus on household and environmental toxins or poisons
  17. Road Scholar – Teams will answer interpretive questions that may use one or more state highway maps, USGS topographic maps, Internet generated maps, a road atlas or satellite/aerial images.
  18. Roller Coaster – Prior to the competition, teams design, build, and test a roller coaster track to guide a vehicle that uses gravitational potential energy as its sole means of propulsion to travel as close as possible to a target time, while minimizing the height of the vehicle with bonuses for gaps.
  19. Shock Value – Participants must complete tasks and answer questions about electricity and magnetism.
  20. Solar System – Students will demonstrate an understanding and knowledge of the geologic characteristics and evolution of the Earth’s moon and other rocky bodies of the solar system.
  21. Thermodynamics – Teams must construct an insulated device prior to the tournament that is designed to retain heat and complete a written test on thermodynamic concepts.
  22. Water Quality – Participants will be assessed on their understanding and evaluation of aquatic environments.
  23. Write It/Do It – One student will write a description of an object and how to build it, and then the other student will attempt to construct the object from this description.

How are SciOly Tournaments scored?

Event scores are ranked by team, then scores from each event are added to get the team score, less is better. Top five teams in each event are given medals and top 3 teams are awarded trophies. Top 4 schools in the Santa Clara Regional Science Olympiad get to compete in the Northern California State Science Olympiad in mid-April.

Scores for the 2017-2018 Santa Clara Regional Science Olympiad can be found here.

Tournament Schedule

Each tournament is a full day event in which all 15 team members attend but compete at different times, capped by an awards ceremony. A sample schedule can be seen here.

Parent Volunteers

Paly student-mentors are great because many have been through the middle school experience. However, they're also get busy preparing for their own events before tournaments. Parent volunteers help pick up the slack when Paly students aren't available. Help is needed in the following areas:

  1. Coaching: Parents with subject matter expertise or project management experience are welcome. It can be convenient to coach your own child, but sometimes more effective and educational to coach others. Expect 1-2 hours a week time commitment.
  2. Logistics: Many engineering events require space for building and testing, which need advance reservations. Full day tournaments require transportation, food and photography.

What's Science Bowl?

Science Bowl is a fast-paced competition where 5-person teams face-off against each other answering short questions in physical science, life science, math, energy, and earth and space science.

A full description and history can be found here, and an example competition can be seen below:

What was the Club Time Commitment in 2017-2018?

  • Club meetings every Thursday from 3:15-4:15pm throughout the school year
  • Self-arranged partner study/work meetings (3-5 hours/week) which increase in frequency before competitions.
  • Full day competition in Fremont on February 17, 2018 for Science Olympiad teams.
  • Full day competition in San Jose on February 24, 2018 for Science Bowl teams.
  • Full day competition in San Jose on March 17, 2018 for Science Olympiad teams.

What to Expect in 2018-2019?

  1. Prospective students should sign up at the SciOly Table on Club Day, 9/7.
  2. Club meetings will be Thursdays after school starting 3:15pm on 9/20.
  3. Top SciOly competitors in Santa Clara have always attended invitational tournaments in Sacramento starting in December. For the 2018-2019 school year, those dates are December 1, 2018 and January 12, 2019. If a decision is made to attend either of these, advance preparation will be required.