About Academic Rodeo
What is Academic Rodeo?
Academic Rodeo is a collection of competitive events for students in grades K through 12. They range from individual to team contests, written tests to hands-on activities, identification to construction activities.
Who can participate?
Academic Rodeo is open to any school (public, private, or home school) or educational organization in the East Texas area.
Approximately 100 groups register almost 2,000 students in one or more contests each year, representing almost 2,500 entries.
When does it occur?
Academic Rodeo began as a part of the East Texas Fair in 1991. Academic Rodeo is now a stand-alone event with the majority of the contests held in January. Preliminary rounds for Academic Challenge Quiz and Mindset Breaking Experience are typically held in November, and entries for Art Contest, Kinder Critters, and Writing Contest are submitted in the fall for judging.
Where do contests occur?
All contests are held at the East Texas State Fairgrounds on Front Street and Fair Park Drive in Tyler, TX.
What is the cost to participate in Academic Rodeo?
There currently is no charge to participate in Academic Rodeo. Preparation resources are the responsibility of the groups involved. Some supplies and resources are provided by Support Partners, but the majority of the expenses involved, including awards is covered by The Park of East Texas from proceeds of the East Texas State Fair. A deposit may be required for Lego kits for the Engineering Challenge.
Who puts together the Academic Rodeo program and runs the contest?
Academic Rodeo is a presentation of The Park of East Texas (formerly the East Texas State Fair Association). The Director of Academic Rodeo oversees the program. An Advisory Committee offers advice concerning contest rules, procedures, and scheduling. Volunteers conduct and judge the contests.
Support Partners assist with development of the contests and advise concerning rules, assist with running the contests, and supply volunteers for various contests.
Current Support Partners include:
AAUW (American Association of University Women) – Spelling Bee; Discovery Science Place – Engineering Challenge; Smith County Extension Education Association – Agriculture Identification Contest and Youth Fashion Show; Smith County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service– Agriculture Identification Contest; Tyler Civic Theatre – Drama Festival development; Tyler Junior College Art Department – Art Contest; The University of Texas at Tyler Computing Center – Computer Science; The University of Texas at Tyler College of Education and Psychology – Kinder Critters, Mathletics, Mindset Breaking Experience, Pentathlon, Science Fair, and Writing Contest; and various Individual volunteers
How do I get my school or group involved?
One person (designated Primary Contact) registers the group for the contests of interest and for which the group has eligible students. The online form is on the Academic Rodeo Getting Started page. Only one Contest Registration is done for a school campus or 4-H Group.
Contests and Entries
Can any student participate in any of the contests?
Each contest is designed for specific grade levels of students. Be sure to read your contest’s rules to determine if there are requirements for the number of boys and girls or the number from a specific grade.
Why are there limits to the number of entries for most contests?
Limits on number of entries may exist for a variety of reasons. These include space available for the contest and amount of time involved in judging entries for a particular contest. With more than 100 schools and groups registering each year, the potential number of entries in many contests is large. The format of some contests would result in contest length that would eventually discourage rather than encourage entries.
Do I have to register each student for the contests, and if so, how do I do that?
Each contest has a deadline for registering students in that contest.
Students are registered online through the ShoWorks Portal. A link to the portal is found on the General Info page and on each contest page. Each registered group has a designated password to use in registering students online. The password is designed to be used by all sponsors registering students for the group. Specific instructions are available to assist in registering students. Changes cannot be made on ShoWorks after the students have been registered.
How do I prepare students for contests?
Suggestions for specific contests are given on the contest page. Many contests have resource information and/or links to other websites which may be helpful to you.
How can I find the location of contests?
Location of a contest can be found on the general Academic Rodeo Timeline. Most contests and activities are located in Building E on the Fairgrounds. A map is located on the General Info Page.
Can other students and/or family members attend the contests?
Some contests are designed for an audience, while others are not. Usually, anyone is welcome to attend the Academic Challenge Quiz matches, Drama Festival, Engineering Challenge (See rules for specifics regarding schools in the competition.), Mathletics Finals, Mindset Breaking Experience (See rules for specifics regarding schools in the competition.), Pentathlon final round, Spelling Bee, and Youth Fashion Show. HOWEVER, safety protocols for the past two years have made it important to limit the number of individuals in buildings at one time. Currently, only Spelling Bee and Youth Fashion Show will allow audiences. Coaches and Sponsors will receive information related to the number of non-school adults who may be present for a contest IF any.
Only the students and volunteers involved may view presentations of Computer Science Fair projects, and Science Fair projects or written exam portions of Mathletics and Pentathlon.
Where do I submit entries for the contests?
Entries for Art Contest, Computer Science, Kinder Critters, and Writing Contest, as well as the Science Fair Notebooks and Illustrations, are submitted to Academic Rodeo in the East Texas State Fair Office at 2112 W. Front Street. A map of the grounds is on the General Info Page.
Are entries displayed where others can see them?
When possible, entries for each contest will be displayed during the Academic Rodeo. For some entries, this is not possible. Photos from some contests may be on display in a slide show for specific events during Academic Rodeo.
An Open House occurs in February just before the Awards Celebration for families to see the entries.
The display of entries will be open on the day of the Awards Celebration. However, only students who place in contests, their teachers, and their family may attend the Awards Celebration.
A virtual Academic Rodeo will be presented using photos from competition in the various contests and photos of individual entries during the East Texas State Fair.
Can I just submit entries at any time prior to the deadline?
For some entries – Art, Computer Science, and Writing – submission at any time within a reasonable period before the deadline is appropriate and actually helpful in sorting and organizing the entries. With some contests, especially Science Fair, the size of entries makes it important for them to be delivered during a range of days to the location where they will be displayed.
What happens to the entries after the contests are over?
A representative of the school or group should attend the Academic Rodeo Awards Celebration to collect awards for those students not present or should plan to collect these from the Academic Rodeo office in a timely manner after the Awards Celebration.
Unclaimed projects and awards will be disposed of or recycled if not claimed by the deadline for pick-up scheduled after the conclusion of the Academic Rodeo.
How will I know if my students win in a contest?
In a few contests, results are known by the end of the contest. These include: Academic Challenge Quiz, Mathletics, Mindset Breaking Experience, Pentathlon, Spelling Bee and Youth Fashion Show.
Results for other contests are posted on the ETSF website on the Academic Rodeo Results page of the Academic Rodeo section and some information is posted on the Academic Rodeo Facebook page. Every effort will be made to post results by the dates designated in the contest timelines. When time permits, schools or groups will be notified when the list of winners has been posted.
What awards do students receive?
Students who do not place receive either a participation ribbon or certificate of recognition depending on the contest involved.
Winners will receive awards designated for the specific contests. An overview of awards is available on each contest page. Awards (depending on the contest) include trophies, place ribbons, and medallions. Elementary students who place 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in a contest MAY receive a cash award. Middle School and High School students who place 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in a contest MAY be eligible to apply for one of 11 scholarships awarded each year.
Decisions about scholarships and cash awards for the current year will be made in November.
Is there an Awards Ceremony of any kind?
Awards are presented at the Academic Rodeo Awards Celebration, typically held the last Friday in February. All students go on stage to be recognized in their contest groups. Team and One Act Play trophies are presented on stage to the team. All other awards are placed in a packet for the School or Group. It is collected by a representative of the group when they check-in at the Celebration.
See the Academic Rodeo Awards Page for additional information.
IF a large Awards Celebration cannot be held, other options are available including a Drive-Through Awards Pick-up. Information about the planned presentation and its format will be available in December or January.
How do students know if they receive a scholarship?
The application process occurs over a 2 week period when contests have concluded. A committee reviews and selects the recipients a few days before the Awards Celebration. Sponsors of recipients are notified so parents can be invited, but students learn they have received scholarship at the Awards Celebration.