Frequently Asked Questions

How will the competition be structured?

Each team will have its own Zoom ‘room,’ with only that team’s students, coaches, and event volunteers. Instead of competing head-to-head against another team, the team’s total score from the round will determine whether it advances. Each round has 15 questions and will have no time limit; the round will continue until all questions are read. There will be no break at half-time. Each team can have 3-5 students that compete together; there are no substitutions.

There will be three morning preliminary rounds. Every team will start in the afternoon elimination rounds, which are single elimination by total score in each round.

Why do students and coaches need Consent to Film forms?

Every round will be recorded in case of any challenge or procedural/technical issue that needs to be reviewed. The Zoom rooms (which we receive from the National Science Bowl coordinators) will be pre-set to record the entire round. Recordings will not be released, but we still require consent forms from everyone in the room.

How do I need to set up my devices?

Each student and coach needs to have two devices with cameras and Zoom capability. The first device must show the participant’s face, centered in the middle of the screen. The second device must show the participant’s workspace (the screen and keyboard of the first device; their hands, blank paper and pencils) and the participant’s surrounding area.

Students should make the name of their first device their first name (and last initial, if two students have the same first name). Students’ second devices should be named “[First name] 2nd Device”.

Should students be muted when they’re not answering questions?

Students should keep their first device (showing their face) un-muted, and should keep their second device (showing their surrounds) muted. Coaches should stay muted on both devices.

What am I allowed to have/use during the competition?

Students may have up to 5 sheets of blank white paper and a pen or pencil. They may not use calculators, phones, or any other devices. Participants should sit still during the rounds and should only be looking at their screens and their paper. Students, but not coaches, may use the chat box during the round. Coaches may keep track of score on paper, although volunteers will keep a running score in the chat box.

Can coaches and parents be in the Zoom rooms?

Coaches and co-coaches may be in the Zoom rooms, but they must also fill out the Consent to Film forms. No coach needs to be present. If a coach has multiple teams, they may only be in one team’s Zoom room for each match.

Parent viewing is highly discouraged in order to make the match easier to manage for volunteers and to prevent the internet speed from slowing down. However, parents may watch the match if they set up two cameras (in the same style as the coaches and students) and fill out the Adult Consent to Film form. If a parent is a coach, they must remain in a different room than their student.

Can students compete together at school?

Yes. However, if more than 2 students are competing in the same place, two students must remain in a separate room from the rest of the team. This prevents a team from gaining an advantage from in-person communication among team members. Students must each have their own primary device (camera showing their face), but may share a secondary device (camera showing their surroundings). And of course, students and coaches must follow the school’s policies regarding social distancing.

How do students ‘buzz in’?

Students will raise their hand (physically, not using the Zoom hand icon) on screen to answer. An event volunteer, the recognizer, will continuously monitor the screen and will call the student’s name when their hand is raised. Students should take care to raise their hands next to their face, not off-screen.

Once a student has raised their hand, they should keep it raised until they are recognized. If they raise their hand before the moderator has finished reading the question, they should keep their hand raised, and they will be recognized once the entire question has been read.

If two students raise their hands at the same time, the recognizer will decide which student raised their hand first; this is a judgement call that cannot be challenged.

Wait, students can talk during toss-up questions?

Yes, they can! Students may consult each other verbally (without interrupting the moderator, please) or use the chat box during the toss-up as well as the bonus.

What rules are different?

Because each team is competing on its own, there are no interrupts or blurts! The moderator will read the entire question every time. If a student raises their hand before the question is over, the recognizer will not call their name until the question is over – there is no advantage in interrupting. If a student blurts, their answer won’t count; once they are recognized, their answer counts.

As well, any student may answer bonus questions, not just team captains. Whoever raises their hand and is recognized for the bonus question will provide the team’s answer.

What rules are the same?

As always, the first answer a student given is their final answer and may not be changed. Stalling (delaying an answer, beyond a natural pause) counts as an incorrect answer. Once a question is fully read, it will not be re-read. Challenges must be made before the next question begins. Scoring is the same: 4 points for toss-ups, 10 points for bonus questions.

How do challenges work?

If a student believes the answer to a question is incorrect, they may make a “challenge.” This must be done before the next question begins. The volunteers will consult the National Science Bowl coordinators to discuss the question ‘in question’. Students can only make a challenge if they think a question’s scientific content is incorrect, or if they see a scoring or procedural error (e.g. forgetting to provide a team with their bonus question). They may not challenge judgement calls (e.g. deciding which student raised their hand first, or deciding time ran out before any student raised their hand). Coaches may not be involved in challenges.

How will the timing of the match and the questions work?

There are 7 seconds for toss up questions and 22 seconds for bonus questions. During the bonus question, students will get a 5 second warning. The moderator keeps time in order to prevent internet delay; students will not be able to see the time-keeping clock. Students should keep in mind, however, that some delay is still present. When the moderator says “5 seconds,” students may only have 3 seconds of the bonus left. This is why 2 seconds have been added to the time. The round will continue until all questions have been read (there is no time limit).

How will I know where to go?

Prior to the event, the coordinators will send each coach the Zoom links to the opening ceremonies and the morning preliminary rounds. In the afternoon, coaches will be sent links to the elimination rounds as the coordinators determine which teams move on. Coaches and students must have access to their emails during competition day, as coaches will need to forward Zoom links to students.

What if students have technical difficulties?

If a student freezes or drops from the Zoom room, volunteers will wait about a minute before continuing the questions. If a student sounds choppy while answering a question, volunteers will ask the student to repeat their answer; if the student cannot be understood because of lagging or drops from the room, volunteers will ask for another student to answer.

Parents have concerns about signing the consent forms.

If parents have any concerns with signing the forms, please let us know, and we can help to answer questions, or direct them to our National Coordinator for more information. A form is needed for all participants, but if they have any specific stipulations (i.e. not using their child’s image), please send us an email so that we can make those appropriate accommodations.

When is the event?

The event is on Saturday, February 27th, 2021! Rounds occur in 35-40 minute increments, and each team will have about 35 minutes of break in-between rounds. Times are subject to slight change.

Opening ceremonies – 8:30am

Preliminary rounds – 9:00am to 12:30pm

Elimination rounds – 1:00pm to 4:50pm

Closing ceremonies (tentative) – 4:50pm

Are we getting any apparel?

Unfortunately, we are not providing any apparel this year. However, we have an online store set up at redbubble.com! Students and coaches can buy apparel with our MSSB logos (anything from laptop stickers to t-shirts) on the website, which can ship directly to their homes or their school. Larger order sizes will have lower unit-prices, so if coaches coordinate a purchase and item-pickup with their students, the apparel will be cheaper for each person.

Will the videos be recorded?

Yes, but they will be used for internal reference only (by the national and state coordinators if an issue arises). However, no “live” or recorded video will be shown publicly from our Southern New England MSSB competition.

Will video recordings be available by demand after the competition?

No, due to the nature of the questions being asked by other competitions nationwide, we will not be making the recordings available.