VASO Clarifications (Complete List)

A complete list of VASO clarifications is available here, while additional information on events can be found on their individual event pages. Use the right-hand column to choose which events to view. Make sure to frequently check back here or on event pages for new clarifications.

VASO Clarifications Policy

During our tournaments, VASO will enforce only those clarifications issued by VASO; National clarifications and FAQs will not be valid in Virginia tournaments.

Clarification requests are closed for regional tournaments. All outstanding clarifications, with the exception of regional-specific room dimensions required by the rules, will be posted by midnight, January 13. Clarification requests will open again for States after the last regional.

Division B

Battery Buggy

Jan 11, 2018 Rule 3.c. - Are NiCad and NiMH batteries allowed, even though some contain small amounts of lithium?
Yes. The National SO Battery Policy has been amended to allow this.
Jan 9, 2018 Rule 3.e - Are programmable devices allowed?
No, programmable devices are not allowed. Rule 3e explicitly limits electrical components to ONLY those listed, and programmable devices use components not allowed by this rule.
Jan 9, 2018 Rule 3.a - Can teams use 1.2 V AA re-chargeable batteries instead of 1.5 V batteries?
Any AA-sized batteries may be used as long as they have voltage not exceeding 1.5 V, comply with all other rules and follow the SO Battery Policy.
Dec 24, 2017 Rule 3.g - When it says "the wheels in their entirety" does it mean just the wheels need to fit in the 30cm x 60cm space, or the wheels and the structure?
Only the wheels need to fit in the 30cm x 60cm space. Axles or other structures may protrude outside that space.
Nov 9, 2017
Rule 7.b. - Each Run Score is the sum of three (3) four (4) components: Time Score, Distance Score, Center Line Bonus and Penalties.

Herpetology

Dec 27, 2017
Rule 2 - Because the permissible 3-ring binder may contain any resources, this can also include a field guide. To ensure that teams do not need to ruin books to include them in binders, VASO will allow both a binder and one field guide to be brought into the event. The field guide is not required to be hole-punched and included in the binder, but all other reference materials must be in the binder, hole-punched and attached using the available rings. For teams participating in out-of-state tournaments, note that this clarification will not apply.

Hovercraft

Jan 11, 2018 Rule 3.f. - Are NiCad and NiMH batteries allowed, even though some contain small amounts of lithium?
Yes. The National SO Battery Policy has been amended to allow this.

Microbe Mission

Dec 12, 2017
Rule 2.a. - In VASO regional and state tournaments, safety goggles will not be required for the Microbe Mission event. This clarification does not apply to invitationals (either in-state or out) or, clearly, the national tournament.

Rocks and Minerals

Dec 27, 2017
Rule 2 - Because the permissible 3-ring binder may contain any resources, this can also include a field guide. To ensure that teams do not need to ruin books to include them in binders, VASO will allow both a binder and one field guide to be brought into the event. The field guide is not required to be hole-punched and included in the binder, but all other reference materials must be in the binder, hole-punched and attached using the available rings. For teams participating in out-of-state tournaments, note that this clarification will not apply.

Roller Coaster

November 21, 2017 Rule 3.b. - Is the vehicle in its start position included as part of the device for purposes of measuring its dimensions?
No. Neither the vehicle nor the #2 pencil are included in that measurement.
November 20, 2017
Additional Construction Rule 3.M. - As our Constructed Devices policy states, kits are allowed "only if those complete kits are substantially and materially customized." If using a kit for the Roller Coaster event, students must impound a written explanation and/or diagram showing how they met this requirement.
November 7, 2017
Additional Construction Rule 3.L. - Commercially available track (e.g. K'nex, Lego, Hot Wheels, Brio track) must not be used.
October 31, 2017 Rule 3.c. - The rule states that the track may not be enclosed at any point. How will that be judged?
At every point on the track, the vehicle must be removable by hand from the track in a direction perpendicular to the direction of the vehicle's travel.
September 8, 2017
Rule 5.c. - Height Score = (100 – device height). The device height is measured in cm as at the highest part of the device measured from the floor or the table (if used) rounded down to the nearest cm.

Thermodynamics

November 26, 2017 Rule 3.e. - The rule states that the device must easily accommodate the insertion and removal of a thermometer/probe into the beaker via a hole at least 1.5 cm in diameter all the way through directly above the beaker. Must the hole be vertical or may the hole be diagonal?
The hole must be vertical. Careful measurement with the probes that we will be using in Virginia show that non-vertical holes are not feasible at all possible water volumes.
Nov 26, 2017
Rule 4.g. - The intention in Virginia tournaments is for probes to be left in the devices for the entire cooling period.
November 18, 2017 Rule 3.f. - Is a thermos type device allowed, i.e. a metal chamber with a vacuum, a yeti type container , hydro flask, etc?
Yes, however, the container device must:
  • meet every other rule, including the insertion of the beaker and having a 1.5cm unobstructed hole,
  • be altered from its original purchased state by having a substantial modification to it, and
  • Note per rule 3.f. event supervisors may request that the device be disassembled, which would include looking inside any layers of containers, vacuum chambers, etc.

Wright Stuff

February 10, 2018
At the Fairfax regional, Wright Stuff will share the field house with Hovercraft. The field house is 42m long x 48m wide x 7.3m high.
February 9, 2018
At the Woodson regional, Wright Stuff will share a gym with the hovercraft and vehicle events. The gym is 30.0m long x 30.8m wide x 6.2m high.
January 9, 2018
At the Charlottesville regional, Wright Stuff will share a gym with Hovercraft. The gym is 29.6m long x 33.8m wide x 9.1m high.
October 5, 2017
The Constructed Devices Policy of VASO states the judging conditions under which teams are allowed to use kits to build the devices for VASO tournaments. Because Rule 3a specifically allows for kits to be used in the construction of the airplanes, Event Supervisors will not apply that "Usage of Kits" portion of the policy to airplanes built from kits. In other words, Event Supervisors will not require that the devices built from complete kits to be substantially and materially customized. However, teams should carefully evaluate any kit for compliance with the current year rules - even kits that claim that they are Science Olympiad approved.

Division C

Forensics

September 30, 2017
In order to match the renumbering in the Sept 8 clarification, Rule 4.b. should read: The score will be composed of the following elements (percentages given are approximate): Part 3.c. Part 3.b. ≈ 20%, Part 3.d. Part 3.c. ≈ 20%, Part 3.e. Part 3.d. ≈ 15%, Part 3.f. Part 3.e. ≈ 15%, and 3.g. Part 3.f. ≈ 30%.
September 8, 2017
Rule 3.a. - The competition will consist of evidence from Parts 3.c.-f. Parts 3.b.-e. and analysis of the evidence in Part 3.g. Part 3.f. ... a.) The collected evidence and other data given could be used in a mock crime scene.

Helicopters

February 10, 2018
At the Fairfax regional, Helicopters will be held in a room 4 meters tall.
February 9, 2018
At the Woodson regional, Helicopters will be held in a room 3.6 meters tall.
January 9, 2018
At the Charlottesville regional, Helicopters will be held in the open library area, which is at least 6 meters tall.
October 5, 2015
The Constructed Devices Policy of VASO states the judging conditions under which teams are allowed to use kits to build the devices for VASO tournaments. Because Rule 3a specifically allows for kits to be used in the construction of the helicopters, Event Supervisors will not apply that "Usage of Kits" portion of the policy to helicopters built from kits. In other words, Event Supervisors will not require that the devices built from complete kits to be substantially and materially customized. However, teams should carefully evaluate any kit for compliance with the current year rules - even kits that claim that they are Science Olympiad approved.

Herpetology

Dec 27, 2017
Rule 2 - Because the permissible 3-ring binder may contain any resources, this can also include a field guide. To ensure that teams do not need to ruin books to include them in binders, VASO will allow both a binder and one field guide to be brought into the event. The field guide is not required to be hole-punched and included in the binder, but all other reference materials must be in the binder, hole-punched and attached using the available rings. For teams participating in out-of-state tournaments, note that this clarification will not apply.

Hovercraft

Jan 11, 2018 Rule 3.f. - Are NiCad and NiMH batteries allowed, even though some contain small amounts of lithium?
Yes. The National SO Battery Policy has been amended to allow this.

Microbe Mission

Dec 12, 2017
Rule 2.a. - In VASO regional and state tournaments, safety goggles will not be required for the Microbe Mission event. This clarification does not apply to invitationals (either in-state or out) or, clearly, the national tournament.

Mission Possible

Jan 13, 2018 Rule 4.b.iii. - What qualifies as an exothermic action?
An action that satisfies this rule need not be a chemical reaction.
Jan 11, 2018 Rule 3.j. - Are NiCad and NiMH batteries allowed, even though some contain small amounts of lithium?
Yes. The National SO Battery Policy has been amended to allow this.
Dec 27, 2017 Rule 4.b.i. - In "originally was at least 20 cm away", does "originally" refer to the time of the device’s activation or the time of the initiation of task 4.b.i.?
To earn points, the 20cm distance must be traversed solely by the inflation of the balloon. If the balloon is moved closer to the next task during the operation of the device by means other than inflation, it will not be judged as traversing the entire distance.
Dec 26, 2017 Rule 2.d. - May flammable gases be used during setup to preheat nonflammable device materials?
The only allowable flammable gas is a butane cigarette lighter.
Dec 24, 2017 Rule 4.b.vii - If the pulley system has a movable pulley portion connected to the object, is this movable portion considered part of the object?
The movable portion of the pulley system is not part of the object. It does not contribute to the mass measurement (which will be taken when the object is detached from the pulley system) and cannot initiate the next action.
Dec 21, 2017 Rule 2.d. - Are lead solder joints considered “lead objects” or otherwise hazardous?
No
Dec 21, 2017 Rule 3.c. - The wording of this rule could be interpreted to require all devices to use a mechanical timing step, such as that of 4.g. Is this the correct interpretation?
There is no requirement for a mechanical timing step in the device.
Dec 21, 2017
Append to rule 4.i. - If a task is touched in such a way as to directly initiate the next task in the sequence, both tasks score zero. If a task is touched to allow the task to complete only its own action, no penalty is given to the next task.
Dec 12, 2017 Rule 5.e. - Do multiple connected batteries count as "one battery source"?
Multiple batteries connected together and used as a single electrical source count as a single battery for the purposes of this rule, as long as the assembly complies with all other event rules and the SO Battery Policy.
Dec 11, 2017 Rule 2.d. - What is considered a "controlled" flame?
For the purposes of Mission Possible, a "controlled" flame is one in which the fuel source for the flame is limited so that the produced flame is kept as small as possible. The flame should be shielded from the rest of the device so that it only impacts upon the intended target and does not provide a fire hazard to the rest of the device. Furthermore, the flame should burn out quickly, not produce any additional flames, and produce a limited amount of smoke. Participants are reminded that the event will be held indoors in rooms equipped with smoke detectors and it is the expectation that the device does NOT set them off. Fuel sources such as flammable liquids or gases, chemicals such as magnesium ribbon, and compounds such as gunpowder are unsafe and should not be permitted in a device. If the event supervisors have any doubt about the safety of an item or process, they are encouraged to err on the side of caution.
Dec 11, 2017 Rule 3.f. - Is a microprocessor considered a movable/adjustable physical device?
To limit team expenses, VASO will not consider a microprocessor a movable device. Thus a single microprocessor may be used for multiple actions. For teams participating in out-of-state tournaments, note that this clarification is in opposition to a National FAQ.
Dec 11, 2017 Rule 3.j. - May we use sealed lead acid batteries?
No. Sealed lead acid batteries are not allowed. They would be considered hazardous material per Rule 2.d.
Dec 11, 2017 Rule 4.b.iv. - The rule states "Add water to a closed container so that it completes an electric circuit and begins the next action." What does "it" refer to - the water or the closed container?
The word "it" refers to the water. The addition of the water to the container must complete an electric circuit that begins the next action.
Dec 11, 2017 Rule 4.b.iv - What defines a "closed container"? Would it need to be completely sealed or just enclosed to prevent spills?
A container will be considered "closed" if nothing spills out of it.
Dec 11, 2017
Append the following to both rule 4.b.v. and 4.b.vi - Either the beam's initiation or its interruption may begin the next task.
Dec 11, 2017
Append the following to rule 4.b.x. - The quarter must flip while airborne, not while touching another surface.
Dec 11, 2017 Rule 4.g. - If the timer itself is mechanical or chemical in nature, but triggers a passive sensor or completes an electrical circuit, does it receive a penalty for being an electrical timer?
No, it does not receive a penalty as long as the electrical component does not contribute to the timing function. For teams participating in out-of-state tournaments, note that this clarification is in opposition to a National FAQ.
Dec 10, 2017
Three sections should read:
  • 4.b.vi. Use light to initiate a chemical reaction to begin the next action.
  • 4.b.xi. Use a thermal reaction a change in temperature which expands a gas to activate such that the expanding gas activates the next action.
  • 4.f. Timing and scoring begins when a competitor pulls a magnet from the device and Timing stops when the ...
Nov 1, 2017
Append the following to rule 3.b. - In addition, the device must contain at least one intermediate action between the two. This intermediate action must be an attempted scorable action as defined in 4.b.
Oct 23, 2017
Setup Time and 5.c.i. Scoring.

Mission Possible setup time is divided into two parts for each team, Group and Individual:
  • Group setup is the first 15 minutes of each session for all teams in that session. At the conclusion of this time, competitors may not touch their devices until their individual setup time begins.
  • A team's individual setup time begins immediately after that team explains its device and ASL to the judges and ends immediately before that team runs its device. Teams may use individual setup to initiate or adjust time-, motion-, or reaction-sensitive elements immediately prior to running.
  • Individual setup lasts for a maximum of two minutes, after which the device must be run. Individual setup beyond two minutes is a competition violation.
  • Rule 5.c.i. does not apply, i.e., no points will be awarded for staying within the setup time limits.
Oct 13, 2017
Rule 4.d. - Two identical An Action Sequence Lists (ASL) must be submitted to the event supervisor at impound.
Sept 5, 2017
Impound: Although Nationals declares this to be an Impound event only at States and Nationals, VASO will also have this as an impound event at its regional tournaments.

Mousetrap Vehicle

Nov 9, 2017
Rule 3.e. - An approximately ¼” diameter or larger round dowel must be attached to the vehicle approximately perpendicular to the floor. The bottom of the dowel must be ≤ 1.0 cm from the track’s surface and must be easily identified by the event supervisor.

Rocks and Minerals

Dec 27, 2017
Rule 2 - Because the permissible 3-ring binder may contain any resources, this can also include a field guide. To ensure that teams do not need to ruin books to include them in binders, VASO will allow both a binder and one field guide to be brought into the event. The field guide is not required to be hole-punched and included in the binder, but all other reference materials must be in the binder, hole-punched and attached using the available rings. For teams participating in out-of-state tournaments, note that this clarification will not apply.

Thermodynamics

November 26, 2017 Rule 3.e. - The rule states that the device must easily accommodate the insertion and removal of a thermometer/probe into the beaker via a hole at least 1.5 cm in diameter all the way through directly above the beaker. Must the hole be vertical or may the hole be diagonal?
The hole must be vertical. Careful measurement with the probes that we will be using in Virginia show that non-vertical holes are not feasible at all possible water volumes.
Nov 26, 2017
Rule 4.g. - The intention in Virginia tournaments is for probes to be left in the devices for the entire cooling period.
November 18, 2017 Rule 3.f. - Is a thermos type device allowed, i.e. a metal chamber with a vacuum, a yeti type container , hydro flask, etc?
Yes, however, the container device must:
  • meet every other rule, including the insertion of the beaker and having a 1.5cm unobstructed hole,
  • be altered from its original purchased state by having a substantial modification to it, and
  • Note per rule 3.f. event supervisors may request that the device be disassembled, which would include looking inside any layers of containers, vacuum chambers, etc.