Challenge Day FAQs
On the day of the Let’s Talk Science Challenge, you’ll need to know what to expect. Here are some frequently asked questions to help you prepare for Challenge Day:
General Questions about the Let's Talk Science Challenge
Q: How many people are on a team and/or chosen to represent a school?
A: Teams are made up of 2 – 4 students. At most locations each school can register up to 4 teams. Due to high demand and space limitations some locations limit the number of teams per school to 2 or 3 depending on where you are. It is up to the teacher which students are chosen for the teams. Usually they will ask which students are interested or, sometimes, if there is a science club at school that is who submits the team(s). When a teacher runs into the situation where more students are interested than there are spots available, our recommendation is to have everyone study to Challenge Handbook and then host a “mini-Challenge” amongst the interested students at the school. The winners of the mini-Challenge will then get to be on the team(s) that goes to campus to compete for their school at the Let’s Talk Science Challenge.
Q: Do I have to study every chapter?
A: You can, yes, but a lot of teams will divide the Handbook up so that each team member is responsible for knowing the information in just a couple of chapters. You’ll compete as a team, so you can all play a part.
Q: Are you able to send out paper copies of the Handbook?
A: We only print and ship a limited number of hard copy Handbooks for those students competing in the Challenge who don’t have the resources to download and print at home or school. Registered teachers will have requested a Handbook at the time of registering. Please feel free to download the e-version of the Handbook.
Q: Are Grade 6, 7 and 8 students supposed to compete against each other?
A: The Challenge is not divided by grades. Some teams will consist of multiple grades (i.e. one member from Grade 8, one from Grade 7) and some teams will consist of all students from the same grade.
Q: Do all teams from one school compete together against other schools?
A: Teams will compete against all other teams, regardless of what school they are from.
Q: How long is the Challenge? Is it all day, or just a couple hours?
A: The Challenge will take a full day, usually from 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Q: Where do we go when we get to campus?
A: Your teacher will receive a package from the Let’s Talk Science Coordinator with all those details a couple of weeks before the event.
Q: Will we be doing the Challenges as a group or individually?
A: You compete together, as a team, for the entire day. There is no time when you can’t rely on your team to help you! For the Q&A portion, your team will be given a blank workbook or white board. When the question is read aloud and shown on the big screen, you’ll talk to your teammates and then write your answer on that whiteboard/workbook. When time is up, your team will show your answer to your judge and get ready for the next question. You’ll be shown the correct answer on the screen. During the design portion of the Challenge, you’ll also work together as a team to brainstorm, design, build and test your design.
Q: Will the questions be multiple choice for the Q&A portion of the Challenge?
A: No. You’ll be expected to answer in short answer format (one or two words usually).
Q: For the Q&A session, will we be using buzzers and whoever hits the buzzer first is the only one to answer? Will all teams hear the question and answer at the same time?
A: At the Q&A session, every team will be given a white board (or something to write on). The question will be presented on a big screen at the front of the room and also read aloud by the Master/Mistress of Ceremonies. You’ll then be given 15 seconds to talk with your teammates and write down your answer. When time is up, your team will show the answer to the judge assigned to your team. He/she will then mark your question right or wrong. Once every team has submitted their answers, the correct answer will be displayed on the big screen, and you’ll find out if your team was correct. Correctly answered questions will be awarded points based on the level of difficulty.
During the Q&A portion of the Challenge, there will be few “bonus rounds” where you are either given a true or false question to answer, a sheet of multiple choice questions (that you will answer on the page and hand over to your judge) or asked to give answers to a question that will have multiple answers (for example, “Name the Great Lakes”).
Q: Does spelling count in the Q&A portion of the Challenge?
A: Don’t worry. This is a science competition, not a spelling bee! We won’t mark you incorrect if you have misspelled the word, as long as it is legible and sounds like the correct answer.
Q: How long will teams have during the Design Challenge? Will the marking include knowledge of science as found through speaking to the team? Or is it based on whether or not the team was able to complete the Challenge successfully? Are there points for things like aesthetics or material conservation?
A: Students will be given a page outlining the Design Challenge, with an explanation of the structure to be designed and built. You will also receive a page explaining how you’ll be evaluated and a package of materials that are to be used. You’ll be given 30 minutes to design and build your structure. Then, you’ll have about another 15 minutes to test your design and have it judged.
Marking will not include any assessed knowledge of science (i.e. the teams won’t be asked questions), but the team will likely be applying what they have learned to the design itself. There’s usually a design/aesthetic element to the final mark, but it won’t be a significant proportion of the marks. More weight is placed on the completion of the task. The teams are given a limited amount of materials that they can use, so material conservation is almost a given!