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.


  • -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 Spring 2015 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.

Event Resources:
2014 Coaches Institute Presentation (2015 rules) extraterrestrial ice and water
2013 Coaches Institute Presentation (2014 rules) extraterrestrial ice and water
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

Does Triton Have A Subsurface Ocean? - AstroBiology Magazine

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 - Weissman, Bottke, and Levison

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

AAVSO Science Olympiad Site
NASA's Solar System Exploration
Ice in the Solar System - Louise Prockter
Habitable Worlds Table - Lunar and Planetary Institutes
Habitable Zones - PBS
Extreme Life - California Academy of Sciences
CFA Webinars - Chandra

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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