NC Science Olympiad
2011 Optics
Division: B - Middle School
C - High School
NC Standard Course of Study Alignment Grade 6 Science: Goal 6; High School Physical Science, Physics
Scoresheet: 2011 Optics Score Sheet (rev. 11/21/10)
2011 Optics Laser Shoot Calculations Page (Rev. 11/21/10)
National Event Page: Optics

NC Clarification: The use of templates for the Laser Shoot portion of the event is NOT allowed. This would be considered modifying the field. (2/3/11)

National Clarification: (10/10/10) 3.c.iv specifies a wall height of 10 +/- 0.5 cm, in order to allow for the walls to be built out of standard 1"x4" lumber, the walls may actually be 9 +/- 0.5 cm high. 4.b.i. & 4.b.ii. If a team has 7 out of 10 correct, use 0.7 (not 70) as the percentage correct. 4.b.iii. "t" is in seconds. 4.b.iv. TP is the Target Point (i.e., any point on one of the vertical Lines that is called the "mark" in 3.c.xii. for Div. B and 3.c.xi. for Div. C).

Scoring example:  A team correctly answers 7 out of 10 questions on Part 1 and 70 out of 100 on Part 2.  They take 37 seconds to setup the laser shoot and the laser beam ends up 21 mm away from the target point/mark:

Part 1 score: 7/10 = 0.7 x 30 = 21 points
Part 2 score: 70/100 = 0.7 x 30 = 21 points
Part 3 time score: ((300 - 37)/300) x 10 = 8.766 points
Part 3 accuracy score: 30 - (21 / 10) = 27.9 points
National Clarification: (11/08/10):
  • -Section should read "... at a height of approximately 1.5-6 cm above the LSS" to accommodate various diameter lasers.
  • -Section 4.b.iv. If the laser strikes another wall instead of the wall the target is on, the distance shall be the sum of the straight line measurements from the target to the corner along one wall and from the corner to the laser dot along the other wall. 
  • -Section 3.c.v. The mirror faces will initially be covered with a post-it note or other easily removable non-reflecting, opaque material.
  • -Section 3.c.i. Timing will stop when the competitors remove the material covering the face of the one mirror in Division B or both mirrors in Division C. Competitors must not make any additional adjustments to the mirrors once the material is removed.

National Clarification: (12/6/10) 3.a.i. should read "Law of reflection (Specular/Diffuse)

Description: There are 2 major components to this event, a series of tasks and questions regarding geometric and physical optics, and a laser shoot.   For the question/task portion, teams may be presented with charts/diagrams, materials and testing equipment, models, written descriptions, etc. at stations or as a sit down test.  They will then be asked to answer questions, perform tasks, draw diagrams, demonstrate a concept, and otherwise interpret the information they are given. For the laser shoot, teams will have 5 minutes to view and measure a laser field (provided by event leader) and reflect a laser beam with a mirror to hit a side target (B Division) or reflect a laser beam with 2 mirrors around a barricade to hit a target (C Division).

Materials: Teams MUST bring a writing instrument. Teams may also bring 2 calculators of any sort, tape measures, rulers, and/or protractors. Teams may also bring one 3-ring binder (any size) of any information they choose. Information in the binder MUST be attached to the rings or it will not be allowed.

Event Leaders will provide all testing equipment and materials required to complete the test, the Laser Shoot Surface, laser, and mirrors/barricade, the official test and answer sheet.

High score wins. Points are given for the accuracy and quality of answers.  Predetermined questions will be used to break ties.

Common Mistakes:

  • Many teams attempt to enter the competition every year with notes that do not meet the requirements. Make sure binder is 3-ring, and make sure all notes are attached to all 3 rings.


  • For note pages that are too small to fit on all 3 rings, copy to enlarge or use a sheet protector.

Event Resources:
Powerpoint from Coaches Institute (2011 rules)
Optics Lesson 0 - Getting Started

Optics Lesson 1 - Reflection
Optics Lesson 2 - Refraction
Lens optics
Lenses Descriptions

Physics Virtual Lab - Optics
Optical Illusions
Optical Illusions 2
Optical Illusions 3
Fresnel Lens and Polarization Film Sheets
Gel Film Color Sheets

Gel Film Color Sheets 2
Source for Lenses, Prisms, Gratings, Polarizing Film, Educational Optics
Source for Supplemental Material
Make Your Own Spectroscope - From NASA

Photo and Video:

Video Optics B Laser Shoot Setup
Optics B clip from actual competition showing timed measurement and placement of mirror for LSS part of score. Note how the boxes have been modified for NC (laser wall removed)
Optics C Laser Shoot Setup
A simple spectroscope, light enters through the slit (diffraction grating) in the end of the tube and separates the light into its visible spectrum. Placing colored filters over the end changes the spectrum that is able to enter the tube.
Bill Nye: The Eyeball
Bill Nye: An Introduction to optics
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