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The Science Olympiad is an international nonprofit organization devoted to improving the quality of science education, increasing student interest in science and providing recognition for outstanding achievement in science education by both students and teachers. These goals are accomplished through classroom activities, research, training workshops and the encouragement of intramural, district, regional, state and national tournaments. The Science Olympiad tournaments are rigorous academic interscholastic competitions that consist of a series of team events, which students prepare for during the year. Some events follow the format of popular board games, TV shows and athletic games. These challenging and motivational events are well balanced between the various science disciplines of biology, earth science, chemistry, physics and technology. There is also a balance between events requiring knowledge of science concepts, process skills and science applications. In addition, during the day there are open house activities that consist of science and mathematics demonstrations, activities and career counseling sessions conducted by professors and scientists at the host institution occurring concurrently with the events.

Many states and regions have organized physics, biology or chemistry competitions, but few have combined all disciplines in one large Science Olympiad. The excitement of many students from all science areas competing and cheering one another on to greater learning caused one school district to coin the phrase "intellete". When they searched for a place to house their newly won Science Olympiad State Championship trophy, the only location available was outside the principal's office in the "athlete" showcase, so they convinced the school board to build an "intellete" showcase. An intellete is any person who demonstrates outstanding performance in an academic or intellectual pursuit (in this case, science). One of the goals of the Science Olympiad is to elevate science education and learning to a level of enthusiasm and support that is normally reserved only for varsity sports programs.

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