Important Information about the in-person Let’s Talk Science Challenge
Why participate in the Challenge?
This science enrichment event is both fun and challenging! The Let’s Talk Science Challenge supports the development of positive attitudes towards science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), which leads to sustained interest in these areas in high school.
At a time when students are on the cusp of making important decisions about their high school course choices, participation in the Let’s Talk Science Challenge gives them a unique, positive experience with STEM. There is no charge to participate, so everyone can join in!
Who should participate in the Challenge?
Students in Grades 6, 7 and 8 can participate.
How many people are on a team/chosen to represent a school and how are teams organized?
Teams are made up of 2 - 4 students. Most locations can register up to 4 teams, however, due to high demand and space limitations in some locations, you may be limited to 2-3 teams per school.
Teams aren’t organized by grade and can consist of a variety of Grades 6 to 8 students on one team. On the day of the Challenge, all teams will compete against each other, regardless of school. Students compete in the same teams throughout the entire day including the Q&A and Engineering Challenge portions.
How do I register a team for the Challenge?
Registration opens in November each year. Teachers or parents wishing to register a team should go to the Let’s Talk Science Challenge Registration page and make an account. Once logged in, choose the location where your team(s) will participate and then register a team to hold that spot. Note that creating an account does not guarantee you a spot in the Challenge. You must register individual teams to a specific Challenge location. Team names and student names may be entered at a later date.
How do I pick a team?
There are a number of ways to determine who will compete in the Challenge, ultimately it’s up to you! Here are some suggestions:
- Hold a mini-Challenge at your school by using the Student Handbook as part of your daily teaching resources. Bring the top 3-4 teams to compete!
- Offer the opportunity to the whole class to gauge interest and choose teams.
- Students can take initiative to form their own teams, organize study groups and prepare for the challenge.
What are my obligations as a teacher/parent?
Students participating in the Let’s Talk Science Challenge must have Consent Forms for Challenge participants completed and signed. We encourage applications to be submitted to the Let’s Talk Science National Office in the first week in April or no later than two weeks before the event. The Interest in Science among Youth survey is completely optional, however, we appreciate your input!
- Students are not the responsibility of the Let’s Talk Science volunteers, therefore, a teacher or chaperone must accompany the students for the event.
- Teams are more successful when they prepare in advance. Unfortunately, we’re not able to open spots to new teams at the last minute.
- If a conflict develops and your team(s) won’t be participating, please contact us as soon as possible so that we can offer another team your spot(s) with adequate time to prepare.
What does a typical day at the Challenge look like?
The Challenge is organized by Let’s Talk Science Outreach volunteers at post-secondary institutions across Canada and may vary depending on location. Typically the Challenge takes a full day, usually from 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
8:00-9:00 - Teams travel to a local post-secondary campus
9:30-11:30 - Game show style Q&A competition
11:30-12:30 - Lunch
12:30-2:00 - Engineering Challenge
2:00-2:30 - Winners are awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place teams and for team spirit
How do students prepare for the Challenge?
Students should study from the Let’s Talk Science Challenge Handbook, take practice quizzes (available online in February) and practice the engineering challenges also available in the handbook.
What is the Let’s Talk Science Challenge handbook?
The handbook touches on Biology, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Engineering & Technology, Environmental Sciences, Math, Physics and Space Sciences – some topics are relevant to what they’re learning in school, while others give them a sneak peek of what they will learn in years to come.
Each chapter has an engineering challenge. Practicing these will help students develop teamwork skills through collaborating, designing, building and testing. Please note that the engineering challenge on the event day will not be a challenge selected from the handbook.
What is the Q&A portion of the Challenge?
The Q&A portion of the Challenge is an exciting, quiz show style activity where teams answer STEM-related questions in a timed environment.
Each team will be given a blank workbook or whiteboard where they will record the answer in a short answer format (one or two words). The question will be presented on a big screen and read aloud by the Master/Mistress of Ceremonies. The team will be given 15 seconds to consult with their team and write down the answer which they will show their assigned judge. Once all teams have answered, the correct answer will be displayed for everyone to see. Correctly answered questions will be awarded points based on the level of difficulty.
What is the Engineering Challenge?
During the Engineering Challenge, students work together in their teams to brainstorm, design, build and test their design.
Students will be given a page with an explanation of the structure to be designed and built as well as a page explaining how it will be evaluated and a set package of materials to be used. Teams will have 30 minutes to design and build their structure and then 15 minutes to test the 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.