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In the 3D Challenge, may the students move after the lights are turned off?


They will hopefully find approximately appropriate positions during the planning period, but will then need to make additional adjustments to hit the target.

What flashlight is used in the 3D Challenge?

Our Macomb Science Olympiad equipment is being replaced for the 2023 season.  The flashlight will be the MagLite model ST3D016.

It is a focusable, LED flashlight and is rated at 168 lumens.

How close may a student hold a mirror relative to the flashlight light source?

Students may hold a mirror as close as they wish, provided they don't touch the flashlight.

Can we draw lines on the paper in the 2D Challenge?

Yes.  The white piece of paper is for the students to do whatever they need to in order to complete the task.  They can write on it, tape things to it, whatever they think is necessary.

Is the target always in the vertical plane (perpendicular to the floor)?

No.  The target might be positioned anywhere in the room - on the wall, on the floor, on the ceiling - not necessarily perpendicular to the floor.

What is the height of the permanent mirror?

The permanent mirror will be fixed to the wall.  Its height can range from 6 inches lower than the light source to 6 inches higher than the light source.

For the 3D Challenge, during the 1 minute preparation time, will the light source be ON or it will be turned ON when the clock starts?

The team can use UP TO 1 minute to prepare with the room lights on, and the flashlight is off.

That prep time is recorded and used as a tie breaker if necessary.

The lights in the room are turned off, and we give the student's eyes time to adjust to the dark.

The judge counts down 3-2-1 and the light source (flashlight) is turned on at the same time that the clock starts for competition.

Will the 2D Challenge and 3D Challenge be in the same room?

No.  They will do the 3D Challenge in one room – just the team and the judges (and any spectators allowed from that team).  The 2D Challenge is in a separate room where a few teams will be working at separate areas.  Spectators may be allowed into the 2D room also (as long as they can watch in silence).

Is there a suggested way for the students to hold the mirrors in the 3D Challenge?

Students need to experiment to see which way is the best way to hold the mirrors.   They should think about how their feet should be positioned, how their hands are positioned, as well as how high they should hold the mirror.  Whichever way is the most comfortable and most stable might vary with each student.

Is there a suggested order for passing the light beam in the 3D Challenge?

There is no set order; however you may want to put your steadiest student holding the first mirror since they will have to hold the light steady for the longest amount of time. 

How big of a room should we practice in for the 3D Challenge?

You should practice in a room about the size of a normal classroom.  There should be plenty of furniture in the room.  The furniture serves as obstacles that the students will have to work around.  The room at the college will be a classroom with normal classroom furniture in it.  Students will not be able to move the furniture.

May the students lean on the furniture in order to hold the mirror still in the 3D Challenge?

Yes, they may, however they should not depend on this.  They won’t know what kind of furniture is in the room ahead of time.  Depending on furniture to hold them steady may not work if the furniture is different from what they are used to.

How will the Supervisor know when the team is done planning their strategy for the 3D challenge in the 3D challenge?

You should have a team leader chosen before you get to the tournament. The team leader will be asked to say when the team is ready.  Remember, the planning time is recorded and used as a tie breaker.

Where can we get a large floor protractor to practice the 3D challenge?

You may purchase one from our Quick Start Kits, or you may download a printable file from our website (elsewhere on this page) and make your own. 

If you are going to print your own, you might take it to an office supply store or the Macomb Intermediate School District teacher’s workroom to print it.   You should call ahead to check the price.  You’ll want it to be an 80 centimeter radius.  It is a good idea to laminate it so it will last.


May students bring a swing arm protractor, 360 degree protractor, and a set square to use in the 2D Challenge?

Yes.  Students may bring any equipment, with the exception of a light source.

What equipment will the students be able to move in the 3D Challenge?

The only things they can move are the 3 handheld mirrors (that are provided by the Supervisor).  They may not move the flashlight, protractor, permanent mirror, target or furniture in the room.

Is the permanent mirror always the 2nd mirror in the 3D Challenge?

No.  However, it will probably be the 2nd or 3rd mirror since it might be extremely difficult (or impossible) to make it the 1st or 4th mirror.

What is a good score in the 3D Challenge?

The most successful teams consistently get scores of 10 seconds or less for each of the 3D challenges.  If you want to understand this more thoroughly, you can look up past scores in our tournament history on this website.

If the students accidentally break a mirror, can they get another one in the 3D Challenge?

Yes, extra mirrors will be available.  Time keeping will not be paused however.

Is there a benefit to be done before the 5 minute work time is up for the 2D Challenge?

In the 3D challenge preparation time is a tie breaker, however in the 2D challenge there is no advantage to being done early.  

What happens if students bump the laser or target out of place for the 2D Challenge?

We will endeavor to make certain the laser, target, and any barriers are solidly attached to playing field.  However, if they are bumped hard enough they might be pushed out of place.  Neither the event supervisor nor the students will be able to touch these pieces of equipment to try to put them back in their original position.  At the end of the 5 minute work period, the laser will be turned on and the team’s score will be based on which mirrors and target areas the laser light reaches.   Students should practice extreme care not to move the laser, target, or barriers.

In regards to the "light source" should students practice with an LED or incandescent light source?

As long as you can focus the light into a narrow, bright beam, the light technology does not matter.

Can the mirrors be placed upside down in the 2D Challenge?

The mirrors are mounted on the wood block with one mirror edge flush with the block edge.  This leaves a 1/2 inch gap on the opposite side of the block.  There is no actual 'top' or 'bottom'.

Students can position blocks any way they wish.

In the 2D challenge, if the laser beam's path lands on both the -1 and -2 sections, how would that be scored?

If a beam touches more than one target zone, the team will receive the best score.

The lasers will be carefully pre-set so that the line projected is vertical.  Be certain to adjust your practice laser the same way.

You can find additional help in the “How to Set Up the 2D Challenge” resources posted above.

Are students required to stand to complete the 2D Challenge, or will there be chairs available to sit in?

We may not know in advance if chairs will be available in the room.  If there are chairs present, the participants may sit in them. 

If your student has a disability, please contact the tournament director well before the tournament to discuss appropriate accomodations.

Can sticky tack be used to put under the mirrors in the 2D Challenge?

Yes, but remember...

Students may not touch or disturb the laser, target or obstacle.

What is the maximum height from the floor that the flashlight can be located?

There is no height specified.

The flashlight will be placed on top of furniture available in the classroom.

Did you not find the answer to your question in the FAQs?

Ask your rules clarification question here

Event Supervisor

Mike Wood

Macomb Science Olympiad

P.O. Box 763, Sterling Heights, MI 48311

For questions about the Elementary division, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.