Tuesday, March 20, 2018

To Infinity and Beyond, dome test

 For the sky dome exam, are the students expected to know all the constellations on the sky chart posted to the WESO site (such as Monoceros and others) or only those listed on the other materials as constellations they need to understand?

Those that are listed on the instruction/description sheet for the event.

Write It/Build It

We have 2 writers for our Write it Build it team. Can they each write on a separate piece of paper at the same time and then both papers will go to the builders? 

The answer is yes.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Water Rockets Questions

(Q1) In the Water Rockets study guide, the speed of sound is given as 660 mph.  However, at sea-level standard temperature, the speed of sound is 770 mph (this is roughly 660 nautical miles per hour).
A1) It is good to know how the speed of sound is related to the density of
the medium, and the ground distance covered at a given pressure and
temperature.  It might be best to ask oneself , "What question would
be asked to determine an understanding of this phenomenon."

Q1a)Regarding (1), my concern remains that the study guide specifically states 660 mph as Mach 1.  This statement should either be removed, since the speed of sound is not constant and depends on temperature via sqrt(gamma*R*T), or the correct value for the speed of sound should be given at STP conditions (most meaningful as a reference point).  This correct value is 770 miles per hour.

"Water Rockets" has a goal of introducing aerodynamics to students in Grade School.  It is understandable that rockets are more the realm of physics, and this is a compromise.

Pegging a ground speed to mach in mph is a problem.  Let me address.
Aeronautic terms are traditionally in knots, which can be also stated as Knph, and even as "miles per hour", but not as mph.  The 767mph or ~ 660 knots at 20C at 1 atm sounds about right, so I understand the confusion.  However sea level at room temp is not a common condition to attain Mach 1 in a vehicle with aerodynamic qualities, but is closer to the conditions of physics laboratories which explore properties of sound, etc.  When I look at the charts, I see that from 35,000 ft on up to 60,000 ft at ~ -56C mach equates to right about 660 mph. These are the common conditions to attain mach or better for such capable aircraft.
There is a secondary issue which is to make mach relative to a ground speed for a third grader.. Therefore knots or M/s are less desirable than mph.
The speed should stand at 660 mph.  While one could add specific atmospheric conditions, it would mean more memorization. 
(Q2) The material list specifies no metal parts.  Does that mean that even small metal pieces, such as paper clips, are not allowed?  I assume the answer is yes (not allowed), but I wanted to double-check.

A2: The only metal part allowed would be a fishing type swivel and or
clip.  The concern is the metal can become a dangerous projectile upon
bottle failure.  A metal paperclip falls in the category of dangerous
metal part at high speed.
(Q3) The event description states that "No other source of potential or kinetic energy to launch the rocket, eject the nosecone, or deploy the parachute will be permitted".  However, rubber bands are listed as an allowed material.  Is the potential energy of a stretched rubber band exempt from the "other source" of energy rule?

A3. A rubber band is allowed, but it may only be stretched by the
motion of the rocket after launch.  An argument could be made for a
release mechanism using a pre-stretched rubber band, however, if the
result increases the kinetic energy in a desirable direction for any
of rocket parts, it should not be allowed.  The most probable use of
such a device would be to seperate the nosecone in a positive
direction, and/or deploy the parachute more rapidly.  I would
personally rule against this use currently  though others may chime


Will there be any Potions workshops offered?

No, there will not be a Potions workshop.
Also, my fellow coach and I signed up after the coaches meeting earlier in the year, are there any opportunities to get a little more training?  I see Emily & Michael Briggs are the supervisors for Potions, but there is no contact information listed for them.

Any questions that you have, please send to this e-mail address- weso.science@gmail.com  . The answers will be sent back to you directly, and also posted on the updates blog for all coaches to see.
Updates Blog

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Compete only at your grade level.


Can a 4th grader also compete in a 5th grade event since we have no 5th graders doing certain events? 

No, playing up or down is against the Olympiad rules.

Gene-ius Codon table?

Question: Will the students be provided with the Codon Table at the competition? Do they have to learn the names of the Amino Acids in the table or will that be provided as well? 

Answer: The students will be provided with the exact Codon Table that is in the study guide.  The full names of the amino acids are given i n that table so students do not need to know the amino acid abbreviations.  During the event they will be asked to give the full name of the amino acids.

Policy for back-to-back events (for all parents and students)

This information is for all Head Coaches, coaches, parents, and students: 

In December, we announced to school Head Coaches that we are changing a policy about students in back-to-back events. In past years, we have supported escorting students directly from one event to another in situations where one event ended very close to the beginning of a second event (i.e. "back-to-back"). This meant that students did not exit the academic event hallways between those events. This has changed for 2018. 

For 2018, students will leave the academic event area after every event, even if another event they're scheduled for is about to start. Volunteers will not be allowed to escort students directly from one event to another - all students must check in separately for each event. We will have volunteers available to take students directly to their rooms from the check-in table if needed. 

If your student has back-to-back events scheduled, please arrange with her/him for how you will meet between events. There will be signs at the tournament that show where students will return after their events are complete.

We understand this is a big change; we have prepared Head Coaches for this, and have encouraged them to limit back-to-back scheduling wherever possible. The WESO Board has already worked with numerous schools to adjust scheduling to avoid back-to-back events for students, and will continue to do so. 

If you are a Head Coach, and have questions about this, please contact the WESO Board. If you are a coach or parent, please contact your Head Coach if you need further clarification.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

GENE-ius sugars

On page 16 of the study guide it lists “ribose sugar” as the correct answer for the matching item for “A” but isn’t the sugar found in DNA deoxyribose?  Shouldn’t the correct answer choice be listed as deoxyribose?

Yes, you are correct.  Thank you for raising this question so this can be clarified particularly since the topic of RNA has been introduced this year.  The pentose sugar found in DNA is deoxyribose and the pentose sugar found in RNA is ribose.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

On Target

Are calculators available during the test portion of On Target?

No, they will not be necessary.

Gravity Racer- launching

Where does the Gravity racer car need to be launched from, on the ramp: on the graduated portion? If so, does the whole car need to be on that part of the ramp, or could the front wheels be on the flexible part, or the rear wheels hang off the top edge of the ramp, for example?

The Gravity Racer can be launched from any part of the ramp.

No Bones about It

QUESTION: Will the students be allowed to ask for clarification of what a question means during the event if they do not understand the meaning of a word? The reason why I ask is because it is likely that in order to test the material at this level of detail, the questions may have to be written above a second and third grade reading level.

ANSWER: Yes, students may ask for clarification if they do not understand the meaning of a question or word so long as it is not the word being tested or it does not give away the answer. In addition, please know that a certified elementary school teacher reviews the tests for reading level appropriateness to the grade being tested.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

topics covered in the Photon Phun workshops

I was wondering if we might be able to know the topics covered in the Photon Phun work-shops?

Please check the website, wesoscience.org
Under the tab for Photon Phun, you will find a link for Lectures and Demonstrations for Coaches and Students that shows the topics that should be covered.

Sorry, I must be missing something.  I have checked the website, the sign up for the lectures, and the detailed description….  I am sorry but I just can’t seem to find the specific topics to be covered?

 page 2

Potions measurements/ scale

What type of balance will be available to students at the competition, and what range of masses will they be expected to measure?

The digital kitchen scale we are using for practice weighs only in whole grams and is not very sensitive at masses below about 5–10 g.  Will students be expected to measure small masses below ~5 g, or to measure any mass in mg or decimal grams (e.g., 3.6 g, 250 mg)?
A) This is the scale used in competition.

Measurements will be simple and within the sensitivity range of the instrument. 

Circuit Wizardry workshop #1

Circuit Wizardry Workshop #1 slides .pdf version

Circuit Wizardry Workshop #1 slides .pptx version

Workshop #2 will be held Saturday, March 17 at Scarlett Middle School

Monday, March 12, 2018

No Bones about It

QUESTION:  I would like clarification on some of the comments from the recent blog posting as described below.
Statement 2: What differences between the vertebrae will the students be asked to distinguish?
ANSWER: Considering this is an event for lower elementary students, we expect them to know just the basic differences that help distinguish the three types of vertebrae, For example body size and shape, function, location, characteristic of spinous processes, foramen, and/or facets
Statement 8: I believe it is Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis and not Juvenile Insidious Arthritis.
ANSWER: Thanks. The corrections have already been made.
Statement 12: At the coaches meeting, it was stated that the students only need to know that Sharpey’s fibers are associated with the periosteum.  Is that still the case?  Are they responsible for knowing the details posted on the blog?
ANSWER: Yes. Students need to know that Sharpey’s fibers are associated with the periosteum. And yes, students are responsible for the details on the BLOG:
Statement 16: At the coaches meeting, it was stated that the students do not need to know about animal skeletons or comparisons between human and animal skeletons.  Please list any and all differences/similarities that the students will need to know.
ANSWER: Students only need to know the similarities/differences mentioned in Slide 12 – uniquely human movement.

Statement 19: At the coaches meeting, it was stated that students are only expected to name joints by the common names such as hip and shoulder.  Please provide a list of the scientific names of the joints and the associated common names that the students are expected to know for the event.
Blog 19 has been clarified to state: Students will be expected to know the scientific name for the types of synovial joints, how the joints move, and where they can be found as per Slides 11 & 12.

For example, students need to know that an ellipsoid joint moves side to side and back & forth, and that it can be found in the wrist. They can identify the wrist as the radiocarpal joint, but it is not required. We will accept either answer (wrist or radiocarpal joint) as correct.

QUESTION: In regard to the differences between the second and third grade, please clarify and provide specific details as mentioned below.
- Please list the parts of the long bone that the second grade and the third grade students are each expected to know.
ANSWER: In addition to parts of the bone listed in the Study Guide, third graders need to know and identify the Epiphysis (distal and proximal), Diaphysis, Medullary cavity, and the Epiphyseal line.
- Please list the stages of bone repair that the students are expected to know.
ANSWER: Third graders are expected to know the four stages of bone repair at a very basic level.

-        Please list the concepts about the cellular structure of the long bone that the second grade and third grade students are each expected to know
ANSWER: Second and third graders will be expected to know the difference between compact and spongy bone. They are also expected to know the 3 main types of bone cells. Third graders will be asked about the difference between the different bone cells in more details. For example, third graders may have to visually identify the three different bone cells.

- Please list the non-synovial joints that the students are expected to know.
ANSWER: Third graders are expected to know
Syndesmosis joints: join long bones with connective tissue; for example radius/ulna, tibia/fibula.
Sutural joints: join skull bones, no connective tissue, but Sharpey’s fibers.

- Please list the tendons and the ligaments that the students are expected to know.
ANSWER: Third graders are expected to know the basic differences between tendons and ligaments, i.e., what they attach to and how they function.
- In regard to the structure and function of a bursa, the powerpoint states that bursa are in the joint capsule.  Bursae are located near the joint, but not within capsule.  Please list the details that the students are expected to know for the event.
ANSWER: Thanks, the correction has been made to the Study Guide.
Students need to know that Bursae are small fluid filled sacs located at tissue sites where tendons or muscles pass over bony prominences near joints and that they act as a cushion between the bone and muscle or tendon, which helps movement and reduces friction between moving parts.
-        Please list the specific types, locations and the functions of cartilage that the students are expected to know.
ANSWER: While there are 3 types of cartilage, 3rd graders will only need to know 2 types: Hyaline cartilage - most common, a precursor of bone, can be found between ribs and sternum, end of the nose, in movable joints. and 
Fibrocartilage - highly compressible, very strong, can be found in intervertebral discs, joint capsules, ligaments, and tendon-bone interfaces."

Height of Bridge, Pasta Bridges

Q:    The rules state that the height of the bridge built should be 2.5 cm. Does that mean the total height of the bridge needs to be 2.5 cms or does the base of the bridge (built with the long pasta) have to be at a height of 2.5 cms ?

A.  The beaker containing the load will  sit on the highest part of the bridge, which needs to be at least 2.5 CM. above the the support. While pasta spanning the platform can be below that 2.5 cm, all of the beaker must sit at or above the 2.5 cm before loading.  See the following for clarification:  Pasta Bridges Supplemental Guide


In a post from Thursday, February 15, 2018 containing clarification questions from the initial coaches meeting topic #7 stated or requested sample questions be provided for grades 3-5.  The response was that sample questions for those grades would be posted soon.  Wondering if any follow up on that has been completed and if example questions for those grades will be provided and if so when can we expect them?

Sample questions
Second grade
There was a fence all around John’s house. The fence is shaped like a square. The length of the fence is the same as the total length of all four sides of this classroom. What is the length of the fence in feet?

Third grade
The teacher then gave Molly and Jack a candy each. The candy was the same kind as the candy in the jar kept on this table. Can you estimate how many candies there are in this jar?

Fourth grade
Michael put a stone right in the middle of the turtle box. The stone weighs twice the weight of the can on this table. What is the weight of the stone in grams?

Fifth grade
Tom’s and Mary’s mother bought them three fish. The total length of all 3 fish lined up end to end would be the same length as this cotton cord on this table. The longest fish among the three fish is twice the length as the next longest fish (middle) which in turn is twice longer than the smallest fish. What is the length of the middle fish in centimeter?

Back to Nature, Swallowtail?

Should teams know the tiger swallow tail (I think commonly referred to as the eastern swallowtail) and or the black swallowtail, or both? 


They should know the Eastern swallowtail. They will not be expected to differentiate between different swallowtail.

Circuit Wizardy question

Q1) Are the kids going to be expected to do all three measurements (voltage, resistance and current) to prove ohm’s law? With the low voltage battery pack and a small value resistor, the resistance of the multimeter is not negligible so it affects the current measurement.

A1) Students will not be asked to make all three measurements to verify Ohm's law. They will be asked to make one of the three measurements with respect to the circuit they built in section 3 of the test (see, for example the sample problem in the event description). There will be an allowed margin of error of 10% to account for differences in components and battery strength.

Q2) Will the kids get points off if they round up their calculations (if voltage measures 2.7 can they round to 3)?
A2) Students should not round up to whole numbers. The questions will specify the accuracy. For example, they may be asked to report the answer to the nearest tenth of a volt or mA. All answers must include units.

Q3) Can you send an example of how the kids are expected to use the capacities in a circuit?

A3) Students should know the function of a capacitor and how they behave. For example, a google search should find examples of circuits where a capacitor and resistor are used to allow an LED to slowly fade out.

Zip a dee doo dah

Q 1).  Is there a limit on the amount of tape they are given:  if so, how much?
A1) There is no limit on the amount of tape given. (Every team will start off with a scotch tape dispenser, but it may be a roll that teams have used in previous rotations. So, if a team runs out of tape, we will provide them with a new roll).

Q2).  If they are crimping the top of their car to hold ping pong ball, do they have put the ping pong ball in just before they run?
A2) Yes, they have to put the ping pong ball in just before the run.

Q3).  Will students be told the zipline dimensions before they start building?  
A3):  Yes

Q4).  How many ziplines will be used for competition.  If more than one will they be different?

A4):  There will be two zip line frames.  We will make them as identical as we can in set up, but there might be very slight variations.  The kids should be coached to do all their runs on the same frame (eliminating one source of variability).

Q5).  In the build room, will the kids have access to the competition zipline for testing?  What will they have for testing?

A5):  They will not have access to the competition zipline for testing.  There will be a zipline set up in the build area for very basic testing.  There will be no timing system and the zipline will not intentionally be the same as the competition.  This test line is meant to allow the kids to verify that the cable car slides down an incline like they want it to do. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Circuit Wizardry Workshops for coaches and Olympians

A reminder that workshops for Circuit Wizardry will be held starting this Saturday, March 10 from 1:15 - 2:45 at Scarlett Middle School (3300 Lorraine, Ann Arbor, MI 48108).

A tentative schedule is attached.  Please note, weeks 2-4 may change - we have just secured our group of presenters and they are working hard to put things together.

Sign up for workshops here

Schools should bring their WESO issued circuit kits and multimeters.  A limited number of each will be available for purchase ($15) or checkout (valid driver's license left as deposit).