Academic event season is upon us, and we’ve compiled a list of important dates

two students cheer whenthey answer a question correctly

OC high school students compete in the Super Quiz Relay event in front of a live audience during last year’s Academic Decathlon. This year’s Academic Decathlon kicks off Jan. 26.

The season of academic competition has arrived.

Over the next five months, Orange County students will take part in scores of local, state and national contests that will test their knowledge and sharpen their skills in history, science, math, reading, writing and just about every other academic subject. Many of these events demand countless hours of research and prep time, but they also build camaraderie and, in some cases, lead to lifelong friendships.

Here’s a rundown of some of the standards-based contests and events that the Orange County Department of Education will have a hand in from now through June.


Jan. 26

Orange County Academic Decathlon, Day One. Founded in 1968, the Academic Decathlon is a 10-event scholastic contest staged at the county, state and national levels. Participants will kick off the communications portion of the event on Jan. 26 by presenting prepared and impromptu speeches, participating in personal interviews and writing essays. This portion is not open to the public.

Feb. 2

Orange County Academic Decathlon, Day Two. Decathletes will take 30-minute multiple-choice tests in the subject areas of art, economics, literature, mathematics, music, science and social science on Feb. 2. The final day of the competition will also feature the Super Quiz Relay, a high-energy contest that feels like a sporting event and is open to the public. The Super Quiz Relay starts at 2:30 p.m. at Westminster High School, 14325 Goldenwest St. in Westminster.

Feb. 9

Orange County Regional Science Olympiad. Science Olympiads are like academic track meets, with a series of STEM-related team events connected to disciplines including biology, earth science, chemistry, physics, astronomy and geology. The competition is held at UCI, and the top performers go on to compete at the state level.

March 9

National History Day-Orange County. National History Day annually draws about 600,000 U.S. participants with contests at the district, county, state and national levels. Working individually or in teams, students in grades four through 12 conduct extensive research and develop elaborate projects, including original websites, papers, documentaries, performances and exhibits. This year’s theme is “Triumph & Tragedy.”

March 16

Orange County Academic Pentathlon for grades seven and eight. The Academic Pentathlon is a five-event competition for grades six, seven and eight. Under the guidance of their coach, middle school teams tackle the fine arts, literature, math, science and social science and compete in the Super Quiz Relay. This event is for grades seven and eight.

March 22-23

California Academic Decathlon. The winning teams from the Orange County Academic Decathlon will be joined in Sacramento by some elite squads from other counties for this state-level competition.

March 29-April 1

Gallaudet University’s Battle of the Books. Sponsored by Gallaudet University, this contest was created in 2012 to boost literacy, encourage critical thinking and promote sportsmanship for middle schoolers who are deaf and hard of hearing. The finals are typically in March, following local preliminary rounds in November and the playoffs in December.

April 25-27

United States Academic Decathlon. For Academic Decathlon competitors that advance beyond the state level, the national championships will be held in Bloomington, Minnesota.

April 29-30

California Science & Engineering Fair. The final science fair of the academic year for students in grades six through 12 will take place at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.

May 4

Orange County Academic Pentathlon for grade six. This time it will be teams of sixth-graders competing in the Academic Pentathlon, which will include a Super Quiz Relay event.

Orange County Regional Elementary Science Olympiad. This competition for grades four, five and six includes such events as “Pasta Bridge,” “Circuit Wizardry” and “Propellor Propulsion.” Most of the contests will be conducted as formal tests that are closed to the public.

May 10-12

National History Day-California. This competition, held in Rocklin, Calif., is open to county champions in grades four through 12.

May 18

Orange County Academic Decathlon, Junior Varsity competition. Open to ninth- and tenth-graders, this competition also features 10 events, culminating with the Super Quiz Relay.

June 9-13

The National History Day National Contest. State-level NHD winners will advance to the championship at the University of Maryland at College Park in June.