NC Science Olympiad
2015 Solar System
Division: B - Middle School
NC Essential Standards Alignment 6.E.1
Official Rules: See the National Manual
National Event Page: Solar System
Required Materials: Something to write with

Description: This event is usually done as stations that teams rotate through, or it can be done as a sit-down test taking event, where each station has been copied into a test booklet for the team.  It is also possible that the test be given inside a planetarium, or as a powerpoint where teams view slides and answer questions in a test book based on the slides. Teams may be viewing any combination of models, pictures, diagrams/charts, or recorded/written descriptions. They will then be asked to answer questions (multiple choice, fill in the blank, short answer, etc)  related to the materials.  The topic for the 2015 tournament year is extraterrestrial ice and water.

Materials: Teams MUST bring a writing instrument. They may also bring two 8.5 x 11" two-sided pages of notes in any form from any source and 2 calculators.

Event leaders will provide all materials needed to take the test, the official test, and answer sheet.

Scoring: High score wins. Points are awarded based on the quality and accuracy of responses. Predetermined questions will be used to break ties.

Common Mistakes:


  • -Contact Community Colleges and Universities near you to see what special events they are hosting. Many have planetariums or host stargazing nights, or will take you on a tour of their facility.
  • -There will be a Fall 2014 Astronomy Open House (exact date TBD), hosted by the astrophysics division of the Physics Department at NC State University. All are invited to the Reedy Creek Observatory in Raleigh on Friday evening, (date TBD), for an evening of stargazing, constellation finding, telescope viewing of deep sky objects, and refreshments. The evening will get underway around 8:00 pm. PLEASE see their website for more details, including directions, instructions and tips on what to do and what to expect, how and where to park, and plans for inclement weather. RSVP is not necessary to attend, but would be helpful in giving a general idea of how many people to expect. You may RSVP to Don Warren at

Event Resources:
2013 Coaches Institute Presentation (2014 rules)
2014 State Test (Extraterrestrial Ice and water)
2014 National Test (Extraterrestrial Ice and water)
Sample Regional Test - Mesa Robles (Extraterrestrial Ice and water)
Sample Regional Test 2 (Extraterrestrial Ice and water)
Example Questions (Extraterrestrial Ice and water)
Surface Features of Mars (pdf)

Websites and study sources recommended by the national event leader:
Mars Reconnaissance Rover (
Mars Exploration Rovers (
NASA JPL Mars Express (
ESA Mars Express (
PBS Habitability of Mars (

NASA Galileo Mission (
JUICE - JUpiter ICy moons Explorer (
Destination Europa (
Life on Europa? - (
Oceans in the Outer Solar System (
PBS Habitability of Europa (
ESA Cassini-Huygens (

NASA Jet Propulsion Lab Cassini Solstice Mission (
Snows of Enceladus-Europlanet (

NASA Jet Propulsion Lab Cassini Solstice Mission (

DAWN Mission - The Beginning of the Solar System (

NASA Jet Propulsion Lab Cassini Solstice Mission (
Oceans in the Outer Solar System (
PBS Habitability of Titan (

Evolution of Comets into Asteroids (

Oort Cloud & Kuiper Belt:
NASA Kuiper Belt & Oort Cloud (

AAVSO Science Olympiad Site (
NASA's Solar System Exploration (
Ice in the Solar System (
Habitable Worlds Table (
Habitable Zones-PBS (
Extreme Life - California Academy of Sciences (
CFA Webinars (

Additional Excellent Websites:
Starlab Planetarium - free resources and lesson plans for educators
The Grasslands Observatory
SEDS (Students for the Exploration and Development of Space)
Astronomical Society of the Pacific
Sky and Telescope
Astronomy magazine
The Constellations and their stars
Hubble Space Telescope site
Astronomy Picture of the Day
Chandra X-ray observatory site
Exploratorium- Astronomy and Space
Solar System scale calculator- Enter the size of the sun and see how big the planets would be

Pictures and Video:



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