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A Complete Overview of the Earth and Space Science Domain


Michelle Li

ScioVirtual Instructor



ScioVirtual Instructor



ScioVirtual Instructor

So you want to try out for Science Olympiad, but you’re not sure which domain to choose. Don’t worry; we’re here to help! In this article, I’ll cover the entire Earth and Space Science domain, and provide a quick overview of every event it includes.

What is Earth and Space Science?

Earth and Space Science is one of the four Science Olympiad domains, the others being Life Science, Physics and Chemistry, and Technology and Inquiry. As the name implies, it includes events pertaining to earth and astronomical sciences, including geology, meteorology, oceanography, astronomy, etc. All Earth Science events are study events, meaning students take a 50-minute written test and there is no lab or build portion.

Event: Dynamic Planet

Related majors and careers: hydrology, geology, ecology, environmental science

Dynamic Planet is an event that dives into processes that change the Earth. The topic on which the event focuses rotates every year between hydrology, glaciology, oceanography, and tectonics. This year, it is hydrology – students will learn topics pertaining to Earth’s freshwater systems, including stream flow and drainage, groundwater and aquifers, lake formation and types, wetlands, and the effects of human activity on bodies of water. In terms of resources, students have a two-inch binder with which to take the test. Dynamic Planet is also a Division C event, so students can continue competing in it all through high school.

Event: Meteorology

Related majors and careers: meteorology, climatology, environmental science

Meteorology focuses on understanding Earth’s weather and climate phenomenon. Topics covered include Earth’s atmosphere, energy balance, oceanic and atmospheric circulation, climate zones, and recent climate trends including climate change. This event also relies heavily on interpreting graphs and data, so it’s great for anyone who is analytical. Contestants bring two cheatsheets to competition. This event is most similar to the Division C event Remote Sensing.

Event: Road Scholar

Related majors and careers: geology, topography, cartography, land surveying

Road Scholar deals primarily with maps – reading topographic maps, highway maps, and satellite and internet maps, as well as constructing your own maps and topographic profiles. The student-constructed map is a key part of this event, so I would recommend it to anyone who is precise and meticulous in drawing. The great thing about this event is that it rarely changes from year to year – it doesn’t have a rotating topic of focus like other events; so, once you learn it, you can continue competing in it for the rest of your Division B career before moving on to Geologic Mapping, Road Scholar’s Division C counterpart. Students can bring measuring devices and reference materials, such as the USGS Topographic Map Symbols sheet, to competition.

Event: Rocks and Minerals

Related majors and careers: geology, mineralogy, petrology, mining engineering

Rocks and Minerals is about exactly what is stated in the name: rocks and minerals. Students learn general geology topics such as rock formation, the rock cycle, the chemical and physical properties of minerals, etc. The bulk of the event, however, centers around identifying and answering questions about a list of ~100 rocks and minerals. This means students will have to make an ID binder and memorize the general appearance and properties of each rock or mineral. ID events are time-consuming, but can also be a lot of fun once you get the hang of them. Teams use two-inch binders in competition. Rocks and Minerals is also a Division C event, but it rotates with Fossils, so you might not be able to compete in it every year.

Event: Solar System

Related majors and careers: astronomy, physics and astrophysics, cosmology

Solar System is an event that explores celestial objects, space, and the physical universe as a whole. The topic of focus this year is planet formation and structure. Students must understand the formation, structure, and properties of terrestrial planets, gaseous planets, moons, and minor celestial bodies. They may also be tested on general knowledge such as Solar System evolution, planetary missions, and surface-level orbital mechanics. Each team can use two pages of cheatsheets during competitions. This event is the precursor to Division C Astronomy.

There you have it!

A complete overview of the Earth and Space Science domain and what events it includes. Earth and Space has been my favorite domain since middle school, and I would definitely encourage anyone who is interested to give these events a try! And if you have additional questions, please feel free to contact me at Other domain guides coming soon!

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