The goal of competition is to give one's best effort while displaying honesty, integrity, and good sportsmanship. Everyone is expected to display courtesy and respect (see Science Olympiad Pledges below). Teams are expected to make an honest effort to follow the rules and the spirit of the problem (not interpret the rules so they have an unfair advantage). Failure by a participant, coach, or guest to abide by these codes, accepted safety procedures, or rules below, may result in an assessment of penalty points or, in rare cases, disqualification by the tournament director from the event, the tournament, or future tournaments.
- Actions and items (e.g., tools, notes, resources, supplies, electronics, etc.) are permitted, unless they are explicitly excluded in the rules, are unsafe, or violate the spirit of the problem.
- While competing in an event, participants may not leave without the event supervisor's approval and must not receive any external assistance. All electronic devices capable of external communication as well as calculator applications on multipurpose devices (e.g. laptop, phone, tablet) are not permitted unless expressly permitted in the event rule or by an event supervisor. Cell phones, if not permitted, must be turned off. At the discretion of the event supervisor, participants may be required to place their cell phones in a designated location.
- Participants, coaches and other adults are responsible for ensuring that any applicable school or Science Olympiad policy, law or regulation is not broken. All Science Olympiad content (e.g., policies, requirements, clarifications, FAQs, etc. on soinc.org) must be treated as if it were included in the printed rules.
- All pre-built devices presented for judging must be constructed, impounded, and operated by one or more of the 15 current team members unless stated otherwise in the rules. If a device has been removed from the event area, appeals related to that device will not be considered.
- Officials are encouraged to apply the least restrictive penalty for rules infractions (see examples in the Scoring Guidelines). Event supervisors must provide prompt notification of any penalty, disqualification or tier ranking.
- State and regional tournament directors must notify teams of any site-dependent rule or other rule modification with as much notice as possible, ideally at least 30 days prior to the tournament.