The contest is broken into two divisions: a Youth Division, in which teams must consist entirely of students in 12th grade or lower (High School or Middle School); and an Open Division, in which there are no limits on team composition. In each division, the maximum team size is five players. Prizes are awarded to the top teams in each division.The first annual Science Trivia Challenge was held on Wednesday, April 25, 2007. The seventh annual event is currently scheduled for Wednesday, April 17, 2013. We are thrilled that this event will again be moderated by renowned MIT Professor Walter Lewin. Teams are entered on a first-come, first-served basis until the event capacity is reached, so it is best to register early.
The event is organized and run by MIT alumni/ae volunteers, and is funded through the generosity of The Mathworks. If you are interested in volunteering for the event, please e-mail sciencetrivia(at)mit.edu. We appreciate help in the areas like testing and editing questions, coordinating refreshments for the event, serving as team judges or general staff on the evening of the contest.
- The competition is broken into rounds of 10-15 questions each. Questions
can be multiple-choice, matching, short-answer, or multiple-answer
format. Each question is given a point value, with partial credit
awarded in some cases.
- All teams competing in a given round will be positioned at a table on
the stage, with a scorekeeper for each team. When the moderator asks a
question, the scorekeepers will give each team an answer sheet with
the question printed on it and space for the team's answer.
- After a question is read, all teams will have a short amount of time
to discuss the question, write down a final answer on the answer sheet, and hand the sheet back to the
scorekeeper. After time has expired, the moderator will read the
correct answer(s) and the scorekeepers will assign points accordingly.
- There will be two Youth Preliminary Rounds with up to 8 teams in
each. The higher-scoring teams from each Preliminary Round will meet
in the Youth Gold Division Final. The other teams will meet in the
Youth Silver Division Final. The winners of these two Finals will win a Grand Prize.
- There will be one Open Division Round. The team with the highest score will also win one of the Grand Prizes.
The following rules will apply to teams:
- There is a limit of five players per team at any time. Each team is allowed to register with up to two alternates, but substitutions can only be made between rounds of play.
- In the Youth Division, all team members must be at a school level of grade 12 or lower. However, a Youth Division team does not need to be affiliated with any particular school.
- In the Open Division, team members may be of any age.
- A player can only be a member (or alternate) on one team. Team
composition can be changed prior to the start of competition, but
players cannot change from one team to another between rounds.
Register your team HERE for the Science Trivia Challenge using MIT's
SmarTrans(TM) registration system. There will be
space for 16 Youth Division teams and 8 Open
Division teams, to be filled on a first-come
The registration fee is $10 for a Youth Division team and $25 for an Open Division team, payable on-line via credit card. This fee reduction from previous years is made possible by our Mathworks sponsors.
The following is an approximate schedule for
the event. This schedule is subject to
- 6:00pm: Welcome
- 6:05pm: Youth Preliminary Round A
- 6:30pm: Youth Preliminary Round B
- 6:55pm: Intermission
- 7:00pm: A Word from our Sponsor, Mathworks
- 7:05pm: Open Division
- 7:50pm: Intermission
- 7:55pm: Youth Silver Division Final
- 8:20pm: Youth Gold Division Final
- 8:45pm: Awards Ceremony
Youth teams must check in by 5:30pm. Open teams must check in by 6:30pm. Contact sciencetrivia(at)mit.edu with any questions.
Try these questions from past Science Trivia Challenges...
1. A fluid is considered "Newtonian" when its viscosity is independent
of its shear rate. All but one of the substances below is a Non-Newtonian fluid.
Which one is a Newtonian fluid?
a) house paint
c) motor oil
Answer: c) motor oil.
2. Scientists have long been able to calculate the masses of most
planets, including Earth. It has taken longer to measure the masses
of Mercury and Venus, primarily because these two planets lack what?
3. Match each of the following animals with the way they consume their food:
3. Venomous spider
4. Whale shark
a) Grind in a gizzard
b) Chew, regurgitate, chew
d) Dissolve and slurp it up
f) Swallow whole
Answer: 1-b; 2-f; 3-d; 4-c; 5-a; 6-e.
4. A gallon of gasoline contains about 132 million joules of energy.
My iPhone has a 3.7 volt battery with a fully-charged capacity of 1400 mAh (milliamp-hours).
Approximately how many times could I charge my phone with the energy contained in one gallon
Answer: d) 7,000.
5. Match each of the following bathroom products with their common ingredients:
4. Shaving cream
5. Drain cleaner
a) Isobutane (a propellant)
c) Sodium Monofluorophosphate (fluoride)
d) Aluminum chloride
e) Ammonium lauryl sulfate (a foaming agent)
Answer: 1-d; 2-c; 3-e; 4-a; 5-f; 6-b.
6. Match each of the following algorithms with what you might use to find:
1. Dijkstra's algorithm
2. Euclid's algorithm
3. Ford-Fulkerson method
4. Shor's algorithm
5. Sieve of Eratosthenes
a) Factors (on a quantum computer)
b) Greatest common divisor
c) Maximum network flow
d) Prime numbers
e) Shortest path in a graph
Answer: 1-e; 2-b; 3-c; 4-a; 5-d.
7. Good news everybody - my grow-ray worked!
Now each cell in my body is the size of a pea (about 1 cm). Now I'm as tall as:
a) A 3-story building
b) The Burj Khalifa
c) Mt. Everest
d) The orbit of the ISS
Answer: b) The Burj Khalifa.
If you would like to submit questions for the Science Trivia Challenge, please submit them here: submit.