Contest Day: An Outline

Here is an outline of a typical contest day.  Most contests have a very similar structure, as described below.

Meeting Up and Checking In

  • First we meet at a designated time, in a designated area (usually a school common area — the first one there saves seats for the others).  Note:  It will usually be loud at this time, with lots of kids from many different schools.  You may have to look around a bit to find the Meridian Park table.
  • Upon arrival at the contest site, each student is transferred to a volunteer chaperone.  Students should stay with their chaperones at all times during the contest, even when their parents also happen to be there!
  • The coach and/or chaperones check in students as they arrive.  Please note:  Usually, the check-in happens by team and a team cannot be checked in until all team members arrive.

Preparing for the Start of the Contest

  • Each team accompanies its chaperone to find the testing room and nearby bathroom, then return to the meeting area.  It’s a great idea to use the bathroom, have a snack, and hydrate at this time!  Break times can be unpredictable; in some cases they are skipped entirely.  In most contests, once you leave the room to use the bathroom, you won’t be allowed back in for that round.
  • If the contest site offers pizza for lunch, students who want in on the pizza order need to contact and pay whoever the pizza organizer is.  If they have their own lunch, this is not an issue.
  • At a designated time, there is an opening ceremony or orientation where students receive important information.

Starting the Contest

  • Students are dismissed from the orientation to go to the testing room, as a team, with their chaperones.
  • When students arrive at their respective testing rooms and are seated, they are under the supervision of a proctor.

During the testing

  • In some cases chaperones can stay in the testing room hallway during the actual contest rounds and quietly read or work; in other cases, chaperones will be asked to go back to the common area or will have a lounge where they can hang out.
  • Students do lots and lots of math problems! 🙂
  • There are breaks between rounds of the contest.  During these breaks, chaperones should try to go to the testing room hallway, if they’re not there already, and encourage kids (especially the younger ones) to snack and use the bathroom.  (As noted before, break times are unpredictable and having to leave in the middle of a round can be problematic.)
  • At some point there is a meal break (lunch or dinner).  Preordered pizza should arrive before lunchtime so our hungry, hardworking students can eat.
  • Sometimes, there are more contest rounds after the food.  Usually parents can watch these rounds; we encourage parents to do so and support their kids.

Final Break and Awards

  • Then there is a break while final scoring and awards are determined.  Often there is entertainment for the kids.
  • The contest closes with awards.
  • After the awards ceremony, coaches receive a packet with student papers.  Usually coaches will want to take these papers home for analysis, to guide future teaching.

Dismissal and Going Home

  • Chaperones need to stay with students until parents pick them all up.  Parents should actually talk to chaperones and tell them that they are taking their kids so there is no confusion or problem.
  • If it’s practical, coaches can sometimes give students their scores right away. If not, there may be a short wait. We know the kids want their scores so we will work as fast as we can to process the data.
  • Everyone goes home and gets some rest!
  • Coaches and/or coordinator will follow up with students about the contest (kudos, official scores, tricky problems, etc.) as needed.

To see details specific to each contest, click here.