Florida Science Olympiad National Tournament

Storified by Shannon Lehotsky · Mon, Oct 29 2012 07:49:46


Science Olympiad is a competition for K-12 student in which teams of 15 students compete in 23 different events in physics, chemistry, biology, engineering and earth space science. The students do not just report on projects they have completed, they compete in the events live with judges. So, they will conduct labs, research topics, or build devices and test them on site. They have to prepare in advance and also have to demonstrate what they know in front of judges. For example, they build bridges, mousetrap vehicles or trebuchets and test them at the competition. Or, they go into Chemistry Lab and run tests on a specific topic.

I am the director of the Florida Science Olympiad, which is a non-profit science competition for K-12 students. This includes all the competitions in Florida, the Bay Area of San Francisco, and this year the National Competition being held at the University of Central Florida. We have a total of 21 groups, which are all sections of FSO using Wiggio. At the competition, we are expecting that up to 10,000 will join the Wiggio groups. We will have 122 teams, each with 15 students, led by a team coach. The coach will be added to a 2012 Science Olympiad group that is already set up. Then, we will have 2 additional groups that could contain up to 5000 each – one for middle school teams and one for high school teams.
Because teams are scattered across the campus at the University of Central Florida, it was impossible to notify teams of any changes to rooms or events. Now that we’re using Wiggio, we first assign team coaches to a group, and we use this for all communications with the teams in advance of the competition. We also assign them to a second group, which allows them to invite students and parents into it. Then, if there are room/event changes, we notify both groups via email and they receive a text or email message. We let them know that it is optional, but if they don’t join, they will miss very important updates on the day of the competition.
Essentially, Wiggio has solved a huge challenge for us on how to effectively communicate with teams from all 50 states, and how to allow controlled access to data. Wiggio is more controlled than other social networking platforms, and more powerful because of tools like the group conferencing and document uploading. We have used it to control the distribution of rules to teams as needed, which is now very easy.
When I first saw Wiggio it immediately struck me how powerful and easy the site is to use, and how it solves so many problems associated with collecting, maintaining and inviting people into the group. In fact, it is one of the few rare websites that I have seen that I would be very willing to pay for. We are a non-profit organization with no paid employees, so any money we spend goes directly back to supporting teams. So, if we are willing to pay for a product, it must be especially powerful and useful -and Wiggio.com certainly is.
Mike McKee
State Director, Florida Science Olympiad