The Norwich Science Olympiad, an annual festival of competitive events for schools, started in 1980 as the Norwich Chemical Olympiad. Over its successful run of twenty years it evolved into the Science Olympiad. The Science Olympiad took place over two whole days, and typically involved some 1,500 children from 70 Norfolk primary schools, secondary schools and sixth-form centres. In the early years, the Olympiad received the generous support of local charities, i.e. Norwich Town Close Estate, Normans Foundation and Joanna Scott Foundation. In later years, it was supported by local industries such as Colman Foods, Rowntree Macintosh and British Sugar. However, following the relocation and reorganization of these companies, their sources of financial support for the Olympiad disappeared. This meant that the Olympiad did not run between 2001 and 2007.

In 2007 enthusiasts resolved to revive the Science Olympiad as a two-day event and re-establish it in the school calendar. In 2007 money was secured from the Norwich Town Close Estate Charity, the Thomas Weston Foundation and Thomas Anguishs' Educational Foundation and with the support of the University of East Anglia the Olympiad was successfully re-launched.

The major sponsor for the next three years was the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council which has enabled the Olympiad to be run from 2009 to 2011.

Since the re-launch of the Olympiad a new element has been added: the Top Class quiz. The grand final of the quiz takes place on stage at the University of East Anglia at the end of a series of rounds which schools play against one another, first against the clock with the sxiteen top scorers playing interactive matches in a knockout competition to reach the final.