Friday, March 31, 2017


1.  Will there be a clock visible for the kids on the day of the build so they know how much time they have remaining to build and then to modify their cars?

A1. We will not be providing a clock (there may be one in the classroom, but this is not a guarantee). We will provide reminders with how much time the teams have left as described in the event description.

2.  Will the harness be on the line and the kids attach their car or will the kids attach their car to the harness and then to the line?

A2. The harness will be taken off the line so the kids can attach the cable car. The kids will then put the harness and car back on the zip line.

3. Do the kids or the adult volunteers release the car?

A3. The competitors will release the cable cars.

4.  What specific terms will be on the written portion of the test?

A4. We will not be releasing specific details about the written portion. We encourage coaches to refer to the event description and workshop material for possible topics and terms.

5.  What kind of tape will be availalbe - scotch, duct, masking?

A5. As stated before, we will not be releasing specific brands of materials to encourage teams to be able to adapt their designs.

6.  Will the bottom hook on the harness be open or closed?

A6. The bottom hook will be closed like the harnesses provided for practice.

7.  Can you repeat the practice times and locations - all we got was Wednesday and Saturday?

2 open practice sessions will be available for the month of April.  WESO will set up a zip line and timing equipment and encourage teams to come in a practice, if they wish.  There will be no lecture, just practice time.

April 19th, 5-7 PM at Tappan Middle School Cafeteria.  2251 E Stadium Blvd, Ann Arbor, MI 48104

April 22nd.  10AM - 2PM.  Scarlett Middle School Cafeteria.  3300 Lorraine, Ann Arbor, MI 48108.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

No Bones about It

Revised Study Guide
Can you clarify if the students will need to know the following topics and if so how detailed of an understanding will they need?  Also, are there any other topics not listed in the slide presentation that are going to be covered on the exam.

1)      The difference between male and female skeletons.

2)      How our skeleton compares to animal skeletons.

3)      The development and growth of the skeletal system starting with fetal development.

4)      How the skeletal system changes during childhood through adulthood (ie number of bones, location of red/yellow bone marrow, the ossification process, growth of long bones, formation of sesamoid bones, etc)  The number of bones listed on the slides is for the adult skeleton – are they only going to be tested on the adult skeleton?

5)      The parts of the long bone such as epiphysis, metaphysis, diaphysis.

6)      The different types of cartilage, location, function, etc

7)      The bone repair process.

8)      Osteoporosis.

9)      Non-synovial joints.

10)   Scientific names for the directional movement at joints, ie abduction, adduction, flexion, extension, internal and external rotation.

11)      Hip bones are listed as irregular bones.  The hip joint consists of the pelvis and femur.  The femur is a long bone and the pelvis is a flat bone according to anatomy texts.

12)      Carpal bones are listed as short bones.  The pisiform carpal bone is considered a sesamoid bone – will the students need to know this distinction?

13)      The most common fracture slide does not specify the patient population.  For example, in children, distal forearm, finger, and wrist are the most common fracture sites.  With an aging population, femur and vertebral fractures become more common.  According to one study, vertebral fractures are more common than femur fractures in older adults.  Clavicular fractures are common, but are not the most common.  Rates of clavicular fractures remain low, less than 5% of all fractures in most populations.  The exception to that would be in neonates in which clavicular fractures are the most common fracture that occurs during the birthing process.  A few studies showing fracture rates are attached to this email.  What patient population will be used when asking questions about the most common fracture

14)      Cartilage injuries are described as a snap and a pop.  This may be true for meniscal tears, but is not as true for gradual wearing down of articular cartilage.  Will the students need to know that difference between different types of cartilage injury?

15)      Bursitis is describe as the inflammation in a joint (that is arthritis).  Bursitis is inflammation in a bursa.  Will the students need to understand what a bursa is and its structure and function?

16)      Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is a much more complex disease than described in the slides.  While an anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen may manage symptoms in very mild cases, often other drugs are needed.  What is the depth of knowledge that the students will need for this disease?

 Thank you for taking the time to clarify these questions.


We stated at the coaches meeting that the Study Guide for “No Bones About It” is only a guide and not a textbook. Students will need to know some information beyond the examples included in the Study Guide. We recognize that the students are in the second and third grades, and we are not trying to formulate a medical school examination. The coach is responsible for providing a reasonable introduction to the skeletal system, appropriate for these students, using not just the Study Guide, but also other resources. We hope that coaches and students will find preparing for this event not only an educational but also an enjoyable experience.

We can help coaches to somewhat narrow their teaching.

1)             Students will not be expected to know the differences between male and female skeletons

2)             Students may need to know some differences between the skeletons of humans and other mammals as suggested in slide 12 of the Study Guide.

3)             Students will not be expected to know the fetal development of the skeleton.

4)             Students will not be expected to know changes from a child’s skeleton to an adult’s skeleton.

5)             Students may need to know about parts of the long bone.

6)             Students may need to know about types, location, and function of cartilage.

7)             Students may need to know some basic stages of bone repair.

8)             Students may need to know some basic concepts about osteoporosis.

9)             Students may need to know about some non-synovial joints.

10)         Students will not be expected to know the scientific names of joint movements.

11)         Regarding hip bone classification, please see the previous posting.

12)         For the purposes of “No Bones About It”, the carpal bones should all be considered short bones.

13)         Clavicular fractures are very common in children and young adults. Slide 21 has been modified accordingly.

14)         Slide 22 referred to acute traumatic injuries. Acute traumatic cartilage injuries are often associated with a snap or pop. Students may need to know differences between types of cartilage injuries.

15)         The Slide 25 reference to Bursitis was originally oversimplified for second and third graders since the bursa is often a part of the joint capsule. Slide 25 has been corrected. Students may need to know the basic structure and function of a bursa.

16)         Second and third grade students will only need to know the most basic information about juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

No Bones About It  Supervisors,

Tuesday, March 28, 2017


Discussion questions from the Mar 18th Coaches workshop:

Questions: How do we introduce the subject of 'sex' since some students have not yet had the health education sessions?
Answer: You do not need to introduce the subject of 'sex'. The concept of meiosis was only introduced in order to explain how an offspring gets half of its chromosomes from one parent and half of the chromosomes from the other parent.  I know that this concept was covered on slide 4 and the terms egg and sperm where used.  This presentation was meant for coaches and not the students so it is up to the coaches as to whether they want to use these terms or not.  The subject of sex and the terms egg and sperm will not be used during the event. Of course, inquisitive students might ask questions requiring additional explanation of this topic.  It is our recommendation that coaches refer any questions of this nature to the parents.

Question: Is slide #25 (meiosis cartoon representation) correct?
Answer: Slide #25 is correct. Please watch this video for further clarification:
Keep in mind that the students need to know only the final outcome of meiosis.

Question: Do the kids need to know difference between nonsense, missense and silent mutations?
Answer: Students do not need to know the difference nonsense, missense and silent mutations. Slide #16 was included for the coaches in case a student brought this up. 

Question: Do they need to spell out the full name of the amino acids or is the three letter word enough?
Answer: When reading a codon table, the students can provide the 3 letter short form of the amino acid if they know it.  Remember, it is not always just the first 3 letters of the full name (asparagine =asn but aspartic acid = asp and isoleucine = ile) The codon table that they will be given is in the study guide.  It has the full names for the amino acids. 

Question: Karyotype - will the picture shown have arranged chromosomes?
Answer:  If a karyotype is given during the event, it will have the homologous chromosomes lined up together.  It will not be given to them as a 'chromosome spread' that they would then have to match up themselves.

Question: Will only 2x2 Punnett squares be used? 4th graders are just learning fractions.
Answer: The students will only be expected to use 2x2 (single trait) Punnett squares during the event.

Question: As shown in slide#42, do the kids need to learn the symbols in a pedigree chart?
Answer: Yes.

Question: As shown in slide #47, in the blood typing example, given the phenotype, will the kids be asked to write the genotype?
Answer: Yes. They may be asked to provide a genotype just based on the known phenotypes of individual and the patterns of inheritance within a family.

Some ideas for interactive games shared by other coaches:
- Ask the kids to sequence the model
- Assemble a DNA model with different types of candy
- Mislabel parts of DNA and ask them to correct it
- Set up a human relay game to explain the cell and its structures.

Pasta Bridges, clay, height

Q: On the supplemental page, can you please clarify "The purpose of the clay is to add to the stability of the bridge. It is not to be used to add height
to the bridge."

A: The bridge must be at least 2.5 cm above the base at its highest point. To reach this height, students must use their shaped or long pasta rather than using balls of clay to elevate the bridge.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, Dimensions of lines

We went to the workshop this weekend on Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, which was great-- thank yoU!

At the workshop the dimensions of the setup was mentioned.  I'm assuming those were the dimensions for the workshop setup only and not necessarily that for the competition- could you please confirm? (zip line length = 3.35m (or 3.7m?), angle = 19 degrees, height drop = 1.1m)


Yes.  That was for the workshop only.  The dimensions for the competition will be different (and different between the two grades), but the kids will be told what the dimensions are before they start building.  Note:  3.35m was the horizontal distance, while 3.7m was the distance along the zip line.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Zip-Ah-Dee-Doo-Dah Open practices.

Zip-Ah-Dee-Doo-Dah Open practices.

2 open practice sessions will be available for the month of April.  WESO will set up a zip line and timing equipment and encourage teams to come in a practice, if they wish.  There will be no lecture, just practice time.

April 19th, 5-7 PM at Tappan Middle School Cafeteria.  2251 E Stadium Blvd, Ann Arbor, MI 48104

April 22nd.  10AM - 2PM.  Scarlett Middle School Cafeteria.  3300 Lorraine, Ann Arbor, MI 48108.

We will have a signup available soon.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Hip Bone

On the study guide slide titled Types of Bones, hip bones are listed as irregular bones.  Based on anatomy texts, the pelvic girdle (ilium, ischium, pubis) are considered flat bones, whereas the sacrum and the coccyx are considered irregular bones. 

Can you please clarify?

The classification of the hip bone appears to be in dispute. You can find all sorts of information regarding whether the hip bone is irregular or flat. When we talk about hip bone we mean the pubis, the ischium, and the ilium. The sacrum and the coccyx bones are part of the spine. The combination of the hip bones, the sacrum, and the coccyx make up the pelvic gridle.
We have checked at least 10 different references (websites, anatomy books) and half of them say the hip bone is irregular, the other half say that it is flat. Some sources even appear to have evolved their classification over time. In 1970, Gray’s Anatomy described the hip bone as “large, flattened, irregularly shaped”. The current Gray’s Anatomy online says that the hip bone is “irregular”. We agree that the classification is arbitrary and inconsistent.
Slide #8 in the Study Guide PowerPoint was derived from the 2016 National Science Olympiad website references for Anatomy for the Middle School/High School competition. For the purposes of the 2nd and 3rd grade WESO competition this year, we elected to classify the hip bone as irregular in part to avoid confusion if students should have an opportunity to compete in this event in later years. However, after conferring we have decided that we will accept that the hip bone is either irregular or flat.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Back to Nature workshop

Can coaches attend? Do coaches have to attend?

Do you have any details about what a 2-hour workshop entails?

    Yes, coaches can attend, no they don’t have to . The kids will rotate through some indoor and outdoor activities, including a prairie bug sweep and learning to identify how body parts match the function they perform. This is a new event for WESO, so can’t give any more details at this time, because I don’t know. Each school will be allowed to bring 4 students with no extra charge. If there is space available, others can join in at a cost of $8/student.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Gene-ius,DNA model?

 For the DNA model, will the kids need to build the model in the competition, or will they just be identifying parts to the model. In addition, will they be given a key? (Green=guanine, yellow=cytosine, etc.)

If a DNA model question is asked during the competition, it will pertain to identification.  The teams will not be asked to build a model during the event due to time constraints. A key for the colors of the four bases will be provided.  As a reminder, teams do not need to bring their model with them to the competition.  If a model is needed during the competition, an assembled one will be provided.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Water Rockets


I am an assistant coach of a Water Rockets team, and a question came up in our first water rocket session week, and I’m hoping you can clarify the item for us.

The web site description mentions ‘ . . a two liter plastic pop bottle .  ‘ and makes other references to a singular bottle.

I’m not sure how rigorously to interpret this, but does it mean that we cannot use parts of a second bottle for the rocket? We were thinking of using the tip of a second bottle as a nose cone, fairing etc., but we don’t want to risk a violation.


Extracts from website references:

A rocket is made out of a two liter plastic pop bottle
rockets made from a plastic two liter pop bottle and an optional repair kit. All parts on the rocket, or in the kit, MUST be on the materials list below.
Approved Materials
Two-liter pop bottle

  You may use another bottle , but remember, in terms of time aloft, the rocket parts should be connected so that they all descend at the same time. The first piece or part that touches down will end the timing of the flight.

Workshops this week!

→→Saturday, Mar 18, 2017 at Scarlett Middle School

Photon Phun Lecture-demo
 (cafeteria) from 3 to 4:30pm
Please bring your kits
The demos will involve the use of marshmallows (which are not for consumption). Coaches - please check with the parents of participants if its Ok for the students to come in contact with them. If not, please ensure that they sit out during the activity.
 Photon Phun Lecture + demo: Cafeteria, 3:00 - 4:30pm, Bring your kits
sign up here

Photon Phun relay session: Please sign up
sign up here

Circuit Wizardry Lecture + demo: Cafeteria, 1:15 - 2:45pm, Bring your kits (and batteries)
sign up here

Gene-ius- Coaches only
Scarlett MS, 3-4:30 
Mar 18: Coaches only 
This workshop will be a detailed overview of the curriculum for the event and will be geared towards coaches who have little/no experience in Genetics. 

Click here to sign up for the March 18 coaches workshop.



→→Wednesday, March 22, 2017, 5-7 pm

In Bloom - Matthaei Botanical Garden 

RSVP to sign up here

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Mystery Architecture

Question:    Can the team use the bag in which the materials are given to them as part of their                 structure?
Answer:     No

Question:   Is the team given masking tape or scotch tape?
Answer: Masking tape

Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, ball, dimensions

1).  How are the zip line dimensions going to be communicated to the students?  Vertical and horizontal distance, or length and angle (or both)?

 For the zip line dimensions, we will provide all four measurements - vertical and horizontal distance, length, and angle.

2).  What if the ball pops out after it goes through the second sensor (the "finish line")?  What if the whole cable car falls off and the ball rolls out?

 As long as the cable car makes it past the second sensor with the ball inside, that trial will count. If the ball or the cable car falls off after the second sensor, it's okay. If either fall off earlier, then this trial would score no points.

3).  Can the ball be sealed in, but freely moving?  If yes, can you do this by taping a cover over the car (or even a floor on the car if the cup is pointing down)?  What if the seal is made without tape?

The ball can be sealed in, as long as it is not actually taped to the cable car. For instance, we will allow taping a cover over the car. The only catch is that a volunteer will hand them the ball and supervise that placement of the ball in the cable car, right before the test run. This means that the teams will have to be able to put the cover on and have the cable car ready to run in 30 seconds.

Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, slope and distance

The slope and distance are fixed and not something teams can change, correct?

Yes, that is correct. The slope and distance are fixed, and will be announced on the day of the event. This will not be something that the teams can change.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Snell's Law


      Hello!  Our team wasn’t able to attend the 1st physics workshop on March 4th.  Can you please detail what students need to know about Snell’s Law?  It states that it was a topic for week 1’s workshop and I did download the workshop PowerPoint (thanks for posting), but it wasn’t mentioned.

The workshops are not conducted by the event supervisors and are not a definitive source on what the teams need to know.  The event description outlines expectations.  Any questions or clarifications should be directed to the supervisors.  Just because a topic is, or is not ,included in the workshops (which are meant to be supplemental), does not mean it will be tested.

With that in mind, here are your answers.
Note:  This would only apply to 4th and 5th graders.  2nd and 3rd graders are only going to be asked questions about colors of light.

We won't actually ask the kids to use Snell's Law to calculate anything. 

It is more that we want them to be aware that there is an equation that quantitatively describes refraction by taking into consideration the angles and the materials the light is crossing.  The formula can tell you which direction the light will bend (toward/away from the normal) and by how much (angle of refraction) when at the boundary of 2 materials.  Different materials have different indices of refraction and thus certain materials will bend light more than others (air vs water vs glass in a lens or prism). 

It is more important that they can describe and understand that light changes direction (bends) as it crosses the boundary between 2 materials ie Refraction.


DNA Related:
Will the students need to know the specific names (ex. Adenine, Thymine) or just A, T, C, & G?
Do the students need to know Purines & Pyrimidines?
Will the students need to know Deoxyribose specifically or just that there is a sugar and phosphate group int he backbone?

1. Students will not be asked to provide the specific names of the bases but if they are given those names (adenine, thymine, cytosine, guanine), they need to understand that they refer to A,T, C and G, their position in the DNA molecule and the base pairing rule.
2. They do not need to understand what purines or pyrimidines are.  Those terms will not be used.
3. Students should know that the sugar portion of the nucleotide is called deoxyribose and that this is where the D in DNA comes from.  They do not need to understand its structure.


Will washers for sure be available at the event?

No, we do not guarantee that washers will be provided on the day of the event. We encourage teams to think of ways to change the run time of the cable car without using washers.

Monday, March 13, 2017


1.  Regarding VOLUME:  based on the Math Concepts link in the Event Description, I do not see that 2nd graders need to know Volume.  Is this correct?  Only grades 3 - 5 need to know Volume?


2.  Below, in the table, it says that only 5th grade needs to know Angles but Angles are listed as a Math Concept for 4th graders so just want to confirm -- Angles only for 5th graders?

Since in the event description we had given as only for 5th graders, we will keep it like that for this year.

3.  While this table is very helpful, I think adding another column to this table would be helpful, in terms of which grades need to know what.  I have the following.  I am hoping you can confirm that what I have is correct or, if not correct, what edits I need to make.  Thank you!

Your table is correct!

Perimeter:  all grades
Area:  grades 3  - 5
Time:  all grades
Speed:  all grades
Length:  all grades
Weight:  all grades
Volume:  grades 3 - 5
Temperature:  all grades (Celsius for grades 3 - 5 only;  Fahrenheit for all)
Angle:  5th grade only


Saturday, March 11, 2017


Will students be expected to identify the colors for corresponding bases? Example: Orange = T…

No.  Students will be given a key indicating which color represents which base if the question requires.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Write It/Build It

Hello, my questions concern the Write it, Built it event for 4th graders. 

Can the kids use rulers to measure the distances between objects on the paper - both in writing the descriptions and in building it?

If there are going to be extra items in the plastic bags that the builders get - will the writers get to see these extra items too?

No to a ruler, but assessing distance using hand or finger span, or another system where coordinates are imagined would be allowed, as long as the writers use only words to describe.

The writers will get a bag of objects, same as the builders get. ?

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Back to Nature workshops

are all 3 workshops at Leslie Science Center the same? Or will different things be discussed each time?
Is there a deadline to RSVP by?

They are all exactly the same. They need to know at least 3 days in advance what the numbers are to schedule the group activity leaders.


1. Will the 3oz Dixie cup ALWAYS be part of the kit?
No, we do not guarantee that the Dixie cups will be provided. We encourage the students to think of different cable car designs to use on the day of the event!

2. Will the timing be rounded to the nearest tenth of second?
The precision in our timing system is still TBD.  In a half-scale test system we were able to measure to 0.01 seconds repeatably.

3. Will target times be longer the theoretical? Based on the range of 4-5 ft height and 10-15 ft length, the range of theoretical (no friction) times is 2.25 - 3.43 seconds. And since the cars are hanging on a harness, they don't really have a direct way of increasing friction to slow down the cars.
We will not be releasing a range of possible target times. However, we will make sure that the target time is achievable by a cable car built from the provided materials. We encourage the students to think of creative ways of changing the speed of the cable car without altering the harness.

4. For the free response - want to clarify that you do intend to ask about average velocity and not average speed?
As mentioned in the event description, the average velocity calculation that we will ask the students to perform will be along the axis of the zipline, which is the average speed along the zipline. We will not be asking students to perform any vector or trigonometric calculations.

To Infinity and Beyond planetarium workshops

Workshops are being offered at the Ruthven Planetarium, Room 4508, U of Michigan Museum of Natural History, 1109 Geddes .
They will be divided by grade level focus, 2 at 4th and 5th grade level and 4 at 2nd and 3rd grade.
Each school can send 2 students per grade level to ONE  planetarium show (at their grade level), in order to familiarize themselves with a domed planetarium, accompanied by one coach.
There is not room for extra students or adults, so please don't bring extras, they will end up waiting outside the planetarium in the hall.
Workshops will run from 5pm to 6pm. The Museum closes and locks at 5 pm, so you must plan to be inside before 5. Parking is not easy so plan ahead.
4/5 planetarium workshops, Tuesday, March 28th and Monday, April 24.
2/3 planetarium workshops, Thursday, April 20, Tuesday, April 25, Tuesday, May 2, and Tuesday, May 9th
Please register your team by sending your school, preferred date(s), #of students and grade level to

Workshop Reminders!!!!

Physics workshops at Scarlett Middle School on Mar 11, 2017

Circuit Wizardry Lecture + demo: Cafeteria, 1:15 - 2:45pm, Bring your kits (and batteries)
sign up here

Photon Phun Lecture + demo: Cafeteria, 3:00 - 4:30pm, Bring your kits
sign up here
Zip-a -Dee-Doo-Dah Lecture + demo + practice session: Media center, 1:15 -4:15pm; Bring your supplies and tools;

Sign up for March 11 workshop

Photon Phun
relay session: Please sign up
sign up here

Feathered Friends
at Leslie Science and Nature Center

Saturday, March 11, 9:30-11:30 am
Each school will be allowed to register 2 teams of 2 students. One adult should accompany the students for a total of five people per school.

Registration will be through

If schools have extra team members, any empty spaces in the workshops can be filled 3 days before
the workshop. The school team will have to pay for each extra participant, $8 each, bring  a check made out to WESO. There are spaces available for this Saturday, March 11.

Back to Nature

Thank you for getting back to me. I am new to coaching, so I am want to make sure I am doing this right.
I must admit I am a little confused about the substance of the event, and I am wondering if you could help me. When I went to the coaches meeting for BTN, the person there said that the kids would be responsible for knowing all about the insects on the list, and for guidance gave some examples such as habitat, diet, anatomy, life cycle, and impact on Michigan ecology. She said anything about the insects listed would be fair game.
But, I'm noticing that all this information is not really covered in the field guide for each insect. For example, the guide only mentions that fireflies glow as larvae and some species glow as adults, and that the females sometimes lure the males to eat them. And there are two pictures. But they don't touch on habitat, diet (besides eating each other, but that's not really diet right), or impact on Michigan ecology.
So my question is really...can you review how this event works and what we are supposed to be helping the kids to learn? Could they be asked anything about any of the insects on the list? Or are they only responsible for knowing information that is provided by the guide we were given?
Thank you so much for your patience, I know I'm asking a million questions :-)

The Field guide is not meant to be the only resource you will use. Coaches often have to look for other resources to help the participants to learn  about their subjects.  With 4th and 5th graders, they should be able to use books, videos, on-line resources to fill out the information that is needed. They should also learn how to use the guide to answer questions about their subject. In the past, some coaches have had the team members make up their own guide that includes important information. This helps some to learn the material better.
There will be a workshop at the Leslie Science and Nature Center for them to get more help. These are scheduled for April 29 and May 6. Check on the Website for more details.

In Bloom workshops

In Bloom workshops
1. Flowers, Seeds and Plants (choose one)
March 15, Wednesday, 5 to 7 pm
March 22, Wednesday, 5 to 7 pm
March 29, Wednesday, 5 to 7 pm

2. Plant Adaptations and Terrarium building (choose one)
April 19, Wednesday, 5 to 7 pm
April 26, Wednesday, 5 to 7 pm
May 3, Wednesday, 5 to 7 pm
Each school will be allowed to register 2 teams of 2 students. One adult should accompany the students for a total of five people per school.
Maximum 30 students/workshop

Registration will be through

If schools have extra team members, any empty spaces in the workshops can be filled 3 days before
the workshop. The school team will have to pay for each extra participant, $6/person

Back to Nature workshops

Back to Nature Workshops will be provided at Leslie Science and Nature Center. Each school will be allowed to bring 2 teams of 2 students each.Workshop dates and times are April 29th, Saturday, 1-3 pmMay 6th, Saturday, 1-3 pmMay 6th, Saturday, 3-5 pm
Please RSVP to

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Photon Phun Workshop Signups

There was an error on the WESO Website that pointed coaches to some incorrect SignUp Genius pages for Photon Phun workshops.

The correct links are now on the website here.

If you signed up for a Photon Phun workshop, please make sure you've signed up on the day you intended. If not, please remove your signup and sign up for the correct date.

We're sorry for the confusion about the signups.

The WESO Board

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Feathered Friends and Back to Nature

The info sheet for Back to Nature says that notes may be brought into the exam.
The students were wondering if they can type their notes and bring them in, or if only handwritten notes are allowed?
Hi just a quick question about the notes. It says that homemade notes are ok to use, are they ok if they are typed out or does that mean hand written only? 

Making a guide could be a good way to learn about birds/insects. But keep in mind, the information in any field guide is sufficient, so writing an encyclopedia-like guide would be a waste of time. However, if a coach thinks making the guide will help  comprehension, give it a try! I think typed/handwritten is fine, as long as students are writing the guide with the coaches.

No Bones About It

FIrst and Second Question:

1. For the bone identification, will just the bones on the diagram of the study guide be included, or are all 206 bones fair game for identification?"

2. Do the kids need to know the names of the individual skull bones? How about the teeth?

Bone identification will be limited to those bones that are identified in the power point presentation/study guide.

With regard to the Third Question that we were sent:

In a recent question on the updates blog, the answer "Students should be prepared to identify bones from a small 3 ft. skeleton, a full size skeleton, separate full size bones, and pictures and/or x-rays of bones and/or fractures." was given.  In the coaches meeting, we were told that the students would not need to name individual bones that were separate from a skeleton.  Can you please clarify whether or not students will be required to name separate individual bones.

Bones that are separated from a skeleton would not be a single bone, but instead be a group of anatomically connected bones.

No Bones About It Supervisors,

Monday, March 6, 2017

Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Workshop Details:

   Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Workshop Details:

       1.      Dates: Mar 11 and Mar 25, 2017 (same workshop offered on both days)
       2.      Venue: Media Center, Scarlett Middle School, 3300 Lorraine, Ann Arbor, MI 48108
       3.      The workshop is for both coaches and students. Signup information is below.
       4.      The first half of the workshop (1:15 – 2:45pm) will be a presentation and demo by UM Engineering students.
       5.      The second half of the workshop (2:45 - 4:15) will give the WESO student teams a chance to put their ideas into practice on our test zip line.
       6.      Teams attending the first half of the workshop do not need to stay for the second half if they don't want to.
       7.      Please bring your own supplies and tools to build a cable car. 
       8.      We will be having schools run their cars as TEAMS - not individual students.
       9.      Grades 4 and 5 of each school will be issued a RUN card – an index card with each school's name and grade when they check in. They must present their card when they are ready to run their cable car.  Their run time will be written on the card, thus giving them a record of what they did, and us a way of keeping track of how many runs they got.  After making modifications to their cable car, they need to bring it and the run card back to the test rig for another run. Depending on time, every team will get a chance to do 2-5 runs.

Sign up here for the March 11 workshop:
Sign up here for the March 25 workshop:


Hi, I am getting caught up on the I-Compute event now that we know for sure we will be participating in that event.  I was not able to make the workshop.
Were there any other details provided at the workshop (that are not already listed in the event details document online) that I should be aware of?

The iCompute website has all required information. The Scratch tutorial project that was discussed during the workshop can be found here.

Sunday, March 5, 2017



1) Can u provide us with more information about how to achieve a 5 lb tension on the line. We are currently using 5 lb gym weights on one end of the fishing line. What will WESO be using for the actual event?
WESO will be using a spring scale. One end of the line is looped around the hook on the scale.  The other end is pulled until the desired tension is achieved and then locked off.  During the event, the tension will be monitored and adjusted if it changes significantly.

2) Can students participate during the Lecture Demo (1:15 to 2:45pm) session of the workshop or is it only for the coaches?
The workshop is for both coaches and students.
The first half of the workshop will be a presentation and demo by UM Engineering students.  They were presenters last year for May the Force workshops and did a great job engaging the students.  The second half of the workshop will give the WESO student teams a chance to put their ideas into practice on our test zip line.   Please bring your own supplies and tools to build a cable car.   Note - we will be having schools run their cars as TEAMS - not individual students. Teams attending the first half of the workshop do not need to stay for the second half if they don't want to.
Lecture+demo: 1:15 - 2:45pm
Practice on the test zip line:  2:45 - 4:15

Friday, March 3, 2017

Water Rockets?


Last year we were given a list of study questions for the kids, will we be getting one this year?

At the presentation we were told that we would get a list of the materials that the 5th graders will be given "in their bag" for the build portion of the competition Friday night.  When will we be getting that list?

The Event Supervisors are working on these things now.  You should expect to see them posted soon.

Photon Phun Workshops

For Photon Phun, can the teams sign up for more than one practice, or is it just one?

Do they interfere with the Workshop? (It seems the practice goes until 3 or 4:30, where the workshop is 3-4:30).

We are asking that each school only sign up for one time per grade level team.

The Photon Phun Relay practices do overlap partially with workshops.  Those would be good times for 2nd and 3rd grade teams to sign up, as they do not need to know the material presented during the 2nd and 3rd workshops.  Teams that do not need to attend the workshops, would also be able to participate then.

Pasta Bridges- Other PB coaches, can you help?

Supplemental Guide with pictures
It is unwritten, yet I’ve been told that no part of the pasta bridge may extend below the plane of the wood blocks (not even a centimeter). Can you please confirm?

The bridge is loaded from it's highest point which must be a minimum of 2.5 cm above the wooden bases. There will be no disqualification if a part of the bridge structure dips below the platform as long as the minimum height requirement for loading is met.

Q.Re: Pasta Bridges

My second and third graders have become frustrated building their bridges with the official Plastalina polymer clay. It consistently fails to bind the pasta pieces sufficiently to support a 3-dimensional structure. None of us (myself included) managed to build a complete structure (not counting ineligible flat bridges) without it falling apart before even testing. Suspecting the batch of polymer clay might be defective, I purchased two more. They proved to be no better. Mixing the clay with water did not improve its adhesive properties. Of course, using 5 g of clay per joint would help but the rules permit a total of only 20 g for the entire bridge.

Beyond the general aim of applying the principals of scientific investigation, the specific aim of this exercise (as I understand it) is to learn about the elements of structural integrity and how various shapes (i.e. triangles) evenly (or unevenly) displace loads. The weak, non-hardening clay prevents us from experimenting with, and learning about structural design. I am about ready to bring in a hot glue gun so the children can experiment with shapes and their structural properties instead of putting all their attention into joinery. Have you any recommendations?

Some responses:
from Manchester-It was my understanding that the clay was just meant to hold the pasta steady on the form, not to build with.  We just had our first meeting last week, and my kids were frustrated, too.  However, they were able to come up with some unique strategies for using the round pasta to add height.  We were able to get one together that would hold a little load.  Just keep swimming.

Hello - First let me apologize for the delay in answering your first question. Due to some technical issues on my end - the photos and explanations I prepared a few weeks ago were never received by the WESO board.

To answer your questions below, the clay that we use is intentionally not a sticky clay. The purpose of the clay is to add to the stability of the bridge - it is not intended to hold the pieces of pasta together. It may be used as a base, in between the pieces of pasta and to help keep the measuring cup from sliding off the bridge too soon.

I admire your desire to teach your students the elements of structural integrity and how different shapes can be used in different ways to displace weight. It is fine to introduce these advanced concepts to your teams, but for our purposes, we keep the event very simple. We want the students to experiment with building a structure capable of supporting a load (pennies) which meets the size requirements as identified by the event description. This structure is created using up to 20 pieces of long pasta (type to be determined the day-of competition) and up to 8 pieces of shaped pasta (type to be determined the day-of competition). How the bridge is constructed is up to the team and since the students will not know the exact type of pasta they will be working with until that morning, it is important that they are practicing with a variety and combination of different pastas. For instance, a piece of spaghetti will work differently than a piece of fettuccine when it comes to the strength of the base but there are tricks to compensate for the width of the individual piece of pasta. Similarly, elbow macaroni can be used to create height in a much different way then a bow-tie shape.

One thing that was brought up in our event coach meeting that I want to reiterate is that the goal of this event is for our youngest Olympians to walk away feeling successful. The event as written may seem overly simplistic but when you add in the time limits and being in a room with up to 7 other teams building around you, it can be overwhelming. WESO does have more challenging building events and it is our hope that elementary skills learned in Pasta Bridges can be a stepping stone to these other events.

Finally, I have created another supplemental guide that WESO will add to the event page. It has pictures of a (VERY simple) pasta bridge showing what we mean by the size requirements as posted in the event description I do hope that this helps to answer questions. Again - I apologize for this not being posted weeks ago.


Your Pasta Bridges Supervisors

Back to Nature: Michigan Insects

I have a question about the list of insects for Back to Nature. I noticed "Bees" was on the list, but there are thousands of different species of bees worldwide and many different species present in Michigan. Are the students responsible for knowing only the bees found in Michigan? Would it be possible to get a list of the different species they will need to know?

Thank you for your question.  These are the Michigan “bees” that you will want to look at:
Honey Bees
Common Eastern Bumble Bee
Eastern Carpenter Bees

 I am a bit confused because of those three bees, only the Honey Bee is found in the Field guide. I was under the impression that we would be focusing on species listed in the field guide?
That is the guide we have supplied, but these 3 are the most commonly found bees in SE Michigan. The participants will need to have some common knowledge, easily found, about all the named insects.

Q. For seed bugs we found that they used to be classified under one family but now they have been split into 10 families. Do 4th graders need to know all 10 families?
A. No

Q. By mantids do you mean Mantidae? with the order being Mantodea?
A. Yes

Q. The students found that the Eastern swallowtail butterfly is also called the Black swallowtail in many sources. Can these names be used interchangeably?
A. from the event description:
Important note: Insect names can be confusing, exact, and problematic. For example, the earwig found in Washtenaw county is properly called both the Common Earwig and the European Earwig. Yet commonly, we would refer to the insect as an earwig. The supervisors of this event will take care to write questions and accept answers that require descriptive adjectives only when necessary to differentiate species (such as a Luna Moth and a Cecropia Moth) but will mostly focus on identifying insects by group.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Photon Phun and Circuit Wizardry workshops

Circuit Wizardry workshops

Do the Circuit Wizardry workshops all cover the same content or do teams need to attend all four?

They each will cover unique content.

Photon Phun workshops
Do the Photon Phun workshops all cover the same content or do teams need to attend all four?

They each will cover unique content.
The Photon Phun Relay practices do overlap partially with workshops.  Those would be good times for 2nd and 3rd grade teams to sign up, as they do not need to know the material presented during the 2nd and 3rd workshops.  Teams that do not need to attend the workshops, would also be able to participate then.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

To Infinity and Beyond

To Infinity and Beyond:
Question: I'd like to confirm if all of the content listed in the grade criteria will be in the event.
Answer: Yes.

Question: Will additional study guides be provided for the remaining topics: Sun, Moon, Moon phases, Solar Eclipses, Lunar Eclipses, and What else can we see in the sky?
Answer: No. There are several good resources available in the library and on the net for the above topics.

Question: Will the kids need to use the metric system on the test, or is it US measurements?
Answer: The units to be used will be mentioned in the test question. Students need to only learn the relevant equations. Conversions between different systems will not be asked on the test.