Thursday, March 29, 2018

Estimania appropriate for 2nd graders?

We are concerned about there being questions for Second Graders that they cannot do because the Second Grade Math Curriculum doesn't teach things like volume and circumference.  We have been told that we have to follow the state math guidelines yet there have been questions for Second Graders that fall outside these guidelines.

Perhaps you could send my emails to the Supervisor and we can communicate without posting to the blog?
Your question has been referred to the WESO board, as it has been previously asked and answered by the event supervisor.

First of all, we do not allow communication between event supervisors and coaches without posting to the blog.  This has the potential to create an unfair advantage for a school, and we avoid such situations.

All of our events are governed by the rules in the event descriptions, which were developed by event supervisors and approved by the WESO Board.  The event description rules and any clarifications issued by the supervisor through this blog supersede the generic grade level content expectations.  Many of our events do go beyond the material taught in the classroom and offer an opportunity to learn more about a subject area. 

In the case of Estimania, we do specifically reference the grade level expectations.  This is meant to give an indication of the math ability required from some of the questions.  Estimania, however, is not a math event - it is an estimation based event.  There may be some questions that can be solved exactly with a math approach, but most will require the students estimate some quantity.  Working on strategies to estimate, and then refine that estimate if time permits will lead to more success than trying to calculate an answer.

For example, for circumference - yes students could estimate a diameter and calculate circumference from a formula and yes this is beyond the scope of the 2nd grade math curriculum. This is, however, a time consuming and difficult approach.  Better to fully utilize estimation.  As a former Estimania coach myself, I know that my hand span is about 8 inches.  If asked to estimate the circumference of a pipe, for instance, I might try to see how many "hands" it took to reach all the way around.  If the answer was a little more than 2, I might estimate 18 inches as the circumference (8+8+2).  The math in this example is within the scope of 2nd grade, even though the concept of calculating a circumference is not.  We are asking the kids to estimate, not calculate.

You can take a similar approach to volume - kids know the concepts of volume, or can readily pick them up - ask what is the volume of a bottle of water?  They can be coached on strategies for estimating the number of objects in a container without specifically having to do volumetric calculations /use mathematical formulas for volume.   They should have a feel for what one unit of common weight measures feels like - look for common objects that weigh 1 pound, one ounce, one 1kg, etc.,  - is the object the want to estimate lighter or heavier than these?   Again - this is a concept of estimation.  The math required will fall within the grade level standards, but the concepts/measurements they are expected to know are set out in the detailed event description.  Questions will be drawn from these concepts, even if they are not specifically mentioned in the grade level math expectations.

We hope this provides a clarification.
the WESO Board

Gravity Racer Q & A

1. The ramp will be able to adjust to 3 positions, what is the height of the top of the ramp off the floor at each position?
9 inches
17 inches
26 inches
2. Can the team can raise or lower the ramp as they see fit?
The team can ask the event volunteers to change the ramp to any of the 3 positions before each run.

3. If the racer falls off the ramp and breaks, will the 4 minute clock stop while the racer is repaired?
No, the clock continues running.

4. Does the team have to launch three times? Or can they quit if they get a distance they are happy with?
Any forfeited run will count as a DQ, so we would highly recommend launching three times.

5. I don’t follow how the racer will be measured. Will it just be measured from the target to the nearest point of the gravity racer?
Yes. The event description say, "Distance will be measured in a straight line perpendicular from the target line to the closest point of the Gravity Racer." To clarify, the target line will be a piece of tape running across the hallway. When the Gravity Racer stops, we will measure the shortest distance between that tape and the Gravity Racer.
Is there an example picture you can send to show this?
No, we do not have a picture available.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018



Sign-ups will be posted

Please bring your own materials to build the cable car.


Venue: Scarlett Middle School Cafeteria
Dates: Saturday, April 14, 2018
Time: 10:00 am – 12noon

Venue: Tappan Middle School Cafeteria
Dates: Thursday, April 26, 2018
Time: 6:00 – 8:00pm

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Gene-ius Blood groups

In order to determine the blood group, will the children be provided with the table or are they expected to use Punnett’s squares and reach the answers?

The teams will not be provided with the blood group table in the event. They should know the 3 blood group alleles (A, B, O) and the possible phenotypes (blood types) resulting from all the possible genotype combinations.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Feathered Friends, Juvenile plummage

I'm wondering if 2nd grade Feathered Friends need to recognize non-breeding colorations for male birds on the list or only the more distinctive breeding colorations.
Also, will the 2nd graders be asked to recognize juvenile birds or only adults?
Students will not need to identify juvenile birds or non-breeding plumage.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Map Reading

Can you please provide an example for instances where a string/thread will be used for measuring the distance and where a ruler should be used?

When distances need to be measured along a road a string would be needed. When distances need to measured in a straight line(as the crow flies), then a ruler would be used.

Water Rocket Parachute dimensions

       I was looking over the Water Rocket description handout about the parachute dimensions and was wondering if the Maximum height for the extended parachute of 250 cm means the maximum diameter of the parachute or does that include the length of the parachute and its strings once deployed in the air?

        The 250 cm dimension refers to the greatest distance between all
orientations of the rocket and lines once extended while apart on the
ground.  This is usually the distance from the detached nose cone edge
to the middle of the extended deflated parachute.   If the rocket can
be arranged while dissembled in a manner to exceed the 250 cm limit,
modification to meet the criteria will be demanded.  Conceptually, a
rocket fitting inside a 250cm diameter parachute could pass this

Gene-ius, co-dominance?

Will there be questions on co-dominance beyond blood group? Particularly in Punnett square questions. 

No.  Teams will only have to understand the concept of co-dominance as it relates to blood groups.  Punnet square questions will only involve basic dominant and recessive alleles.

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-  . 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,
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."