Sunday, April 30, 2017


For the Circuit Wizardry, what information on MOSFETs should the 5th graders know for the competition.

Looking at the workshop slides, MOSFETs were not addressed, so it is unclear what information we should have the kids study.

your guidance on this topic is greatly appreciated.

The MOSFET information that could be tested is detailed in the The Circuit symbol document referenced by the Event Description Circuit Symbols

The workshops were put on by generous third party volunteers, not the event supervisors.  The workshop aim was to help explain the main points and supplement a school's practices.  The test on Olympiad Day will draw from the material outlined in the event description.

Study Guide and 5th grade materials list

New Materials May 2017

2017 Study Guide

iCompute , Scratch versions, flow charts

Will the students have to create a flow chart? Might that be an option for a short answer question?

When our students encounter an alert from Scratch that says, "download update 456" is it okay to have them do that? It's still Scratch v 2.0.
Should be fine. These updates are not significant.

Clarifications following team workshops, GENE-ius

GENE-ius New info 4/30
Powerpoint from Team Workshop
Practice questions

Clarifications following team workshops.

If given a DNA sequence, it will always be given in the head to tail (5’ to 3’) orientation and should be read left to right.  Only a single strand will be given. 

When providing an amino acid sequence from a DNA sequence, teams should give the full name of the amino acid and write the word “stop” if given a stop codon.  A codon chart with the full names of the amino acids will be provided.  Spelling will not count as long as I know what they mean. 

In pedigree charts, an individual that is a carrier may or may not be identified with a half filled in circle or square.  If not indicated, you can not assume an individual is or is not a carrier and teams will often be asked to determine this based on the other information in the pedigree. 

If asked to identify the relationship of individuals within a pedigree, a range of terminology will be accepted as long as it is clear the students understand the relationship.  For example, a mating pair could be described as a married couple, husband and wife or parents of individual 6, 7 and 8.

Several tie-breaker questions will be given with a range of difficulty.  There may be a question that goes beyond the material covered in the event description and study guide. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

No Bones About It, short bones, long bones


The following definition is from the study guide:

"Short bones: roughly cube-shaped (e.g.: ankle & wrist bones) "

Question 1:  are the wrist and ankle bones just the carpals & tarsals or do they also include the phalanges, metacarpals and metatarsals?

Answer: The short bones in the wrist and ankle are just the carpals and tarsals. Students are not required to know the names of the individual carpals and tarsals. Short bones do not include phalanges, metacarpals, or metatarsals.

Question 2:  If not, what are the phalanges, metacarpals and metatarsals classified as?  Long bones, small long bones, something else?

Answer:  Phalanges, metacarpals, metatarsals are bones in the hands and feet and are classified as long bones, even though they are short in length.

Also, do the students need to know the total number of vertebrae? The study guide does not address this.  Some resources say 26 (with the sacrum and coccyx listed as one each/i.e. fused), others state 33-34 with the sacrum and coccyx recognized as separate vertebrae/bones

 Answer:  For purposes of the WESO tournament, students are responsible for knowing that the vertebral column consists of the 24 presacral vertebrae (the breakdown/number of cervical-7, thoracic-12, and lumbar-5 vertebrae) along with the sacrum and coccyx, each containing fused bones. They will not be expected to give a total number of bones in the vertebral column.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, glue , slider and event management changes

After watching the workshop and open practices, we have decided to change the slider and event management procedure slightly.  The eye hook to which the cable car will be attached will be slightly open (just like the top hooks that go on the zip line).  To create the opening, we have used pliers on the closed hook.  The slight opening seemed to be easier and quicker to work with, yet prevented the cable car from falling off.

In the build room, each team will be given one slider to use for all their runs.  A zip line will be available in that room to test how their cable car/slider runs (no timing, parameters of the zip line will be close, but not match exactly the test parameters, all teams will share one line - so not many runs may be able to be made....).  If there is a problem with their slider, they may turn it in for another.

Thank you for your patience as we are doing our own experiments to learn what works well in this new event.

 What type of glue will be available?  It doesn't seem there will be time for Elmer's/white glue to dry.  Is it just to act like ballast or will they have something like a glue stick instead?

We will provide glue sticks, not Elmer's/white glue. The glue is meant to be an alternative to tape, in case the teams want flexibility.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Tape measures/meter sticks available for Friday build?

 Will 5th graders be provided tape measures for the Friday night construction period?

Answer, From one of the event supervisors:
Yes. I will be bringing 20-25 meter sticks with me.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Don't miss out on T-shirt ordering!

 Order Deadline: Orders must be placed by Friday, May 5th, 2017. The t-shirts will be ready for pickup at least 2 weeks before competition, anticipated pick up date May 19th, IF all orders are placed on time.

 The t-shirt specifics are posted on the website, on the left side menu.
 follow this link

Gene-ius Workshops

Gene-ius Workshops

GENE-ius Event Workshops:
Venue: Scarlett Middle School
Time: 3 – 4:30pm

April 22 & 29: Coaches and students
The same workshop will be held on two days (April 22 & 29). This workshop will be limited to a coach and three students per grade per school. This workshop will be a problem solving practice session. Schools should only sign up for one workshop. Bring your kit to the workshop, please.

Click here to sign up for the April 22 workshop
Click here to sign up for the April 29 workshop

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

  New Workshops announced:

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 19 5:00 pm - 7:00 pmSIGN UP

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

April 22 SIGN UP

 Workshop slides(pdf format)

 Workshop Slides (PPTX)
 Click here for link to a video that was played showing the effect of mass on velocity when there is no air resistance (it was shown during the 2nd workshop).

Estimania, perimeter and area, rounding up

For third graders, what are the shapes for which perimeter and area will be tested?

For third graders:
Perimeter can be asked for any shape. They will have to use some kind of strategy to find the perimeter.
For area, it will be rectangle and square.

Should all answers be rounded to the nearest whole number (no fractions or decimals)?

Students do not have to round up all the answers unless it is relevant to the question. For example if the question is how many people the answer should be a whole number.

a follow up to Estimania question:  So they may need to go out to the closest tenth or one hundredth of a decimal point?  The detailed description guide only says the following:

Questions will ask for answers in a specific unit of measurement: participants will be asked to give an answer to the nearest inch, the nearest hour, the nearest liter,etc. Many 4th and 5th grade questions will require two steps: 1) estimating and calculating then 2) converting to the unit of measurement asked in the question.

The goal of the event is to make students estimate their answers using different strategies. That is why the description says to give the answer to nearest inch, the nearest hour, the nearest liter,etc. However, if the question does not specifically say to round up to the nearest whole number, the students can give their answers using decimals as long as the answer make sense (for example the answer cannot be like 1.5 boys or 52.75 cars etc). They will not be penalized for that. Besides answers that are within 0-5% deviation get full points.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Estimania, rounding up?

Should all answers be rounded to the nearest whole number (no fractions or decimals)?

Students do not have to round up all the answers unless it is relevant to the question. For example if the question is how many people the answer should be a whole number.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Pasta Bridges

Q: Are the students allowed to use clay to attach the beaker to the span of the bridge? Or can they not do that because the bridge has to be measured before the beaker is placed?

A: Yes. Clay may be used to increase the stability of beaker on the bridge and we encourage the students to place the beaker on the bridge to ensure it will not slide off prior to calling their bridge "done". They must, however, remove the beaker for measuring and replace it prior to loading. Since the clay we use is not sticky, placing the beaker on the bridge to ensure stability and then removing the beaker should not affect the integrity of the bridge.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Workshop Updates

In Bloom
    There are spaces available for Plant Adaptations workshops at Matthaei Botanical Gardens
                on Wednesday, April 19, 5-7 PM and
                on Wednesday, May 3rd, 5-7 PM

To Infinity and Beyond:
    Workshops at Ruthven Planetarium, Museum of Natural History, Univ of Mich
    No workshop this week, Thursday, April 20, 5-6 PM
    No available spaces on Monday, April 24, 5-6 PM,
    Limited space on Tuesday, May 9, 5-6 PM
    Spaces available on Tuesday, April 25th, 5-6 PM and
                    on Tuesday, May 2nd, 5-6 PM

Feathered Friends
    Last workshop Leslie Science and Nature Center, Saturday, April 29th, 9:30-11:30

Back to Nature
    Spaces available on Saturday, April 29th, 1-3PM, Leslie Science and Nature Center and
                    on Saturday, May 6th, 1-3 PM and
                    on Saturday, May 6th, 3-5 PM

To register your team, please RSVP to

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Pasta bridges..loading the bridge

Q: Do the kids load the bridge themselves? 
A: Yes. We will measure the bridge to ensure that it meets height and width requirements and then we will ask them to place the beaker on the highest part of the bridge and to begin loading when they are ready. They can load however they are comfortable - multiple pennies at once or one-at-a-time. I suggest one-at-a-time but we won't tell the kids how to do the loading. I also highly suggest having them place the beaker and remove it prior to time being called to ensure that it won't slip off the bridge. Do this in practice as well.

Q: Once the beaker is placed, can they readjust it as they load?
A: No. Once the beaker is in place and loading has begun, they cannot touch the beaker to steady or readjust.

Q: Can you please tell me where I can find the type of beaker that will be used on the day?  We are currently using a solo cup, and I would like to replicate as much as I can the actual event.
A: My best advice ... make friends with the Potions coach and ask to borrow the one WESO has provided in their kit. The beaker itself is a plastic 250 ml one which can be purchased from any science supply shop or

Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Practice Sessions: April 19 and 22

Signups for Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah practices are now available for April 19 and April 22.

Sessions are for 1 hour, and are intended to be for 1 grade per school per hour. Each grade may sign up for one slot on one of the days; please don't sign up the same grade on both days. 

Please click the following links to sign up. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

4 sheets of paper? Aerodynamics

I am an aerodynamics coach , and I wanted clarification with regards to the event description.  It says that teams will get (4) sheets of paper to construct (2) planes.  Is the extra paper just extra (for mistakes), or are planes allowed to be made from more than one sheet of paper?  Additionally, must all of the material be used or just that deemed necessary?
Thank you,

    They are given four sheets and allowed to use 4, if they desire. They do not need to use all the paper.

The answer provided above was accurate but not all inclusive. If we could add to the answer, in a new post, that although not all the paper must be used, you can use multiple pieces of paper for the same plane. Additionally, at least two planes must still be built, but not flown. So you could use one piece of paper to build a plane, or three, but another plane must be built even if it's never flown for a score. The justification for this, which I would not include, is that this prevents a team from focusing all their time on one version of one design, but hopefully learning about a few different ones and the effects their designs have on time and distance.
Thanks so much,

Pasta Bridges

Are the long pasta choices spaghetti, linguine and fettuccine only? I noticed that Barilla also makes a "thick spaghetti" and I wondered if we should practicing with that type as well. Thanks.

Thick Spaghetti is a possibility if you want to test with it.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

write It/Build It

How many objects will the students be given, and what will be the complexity of the model? Is there any chance you could give a sample model?
According to the event description, 4th graders will be given approximately 15 items and 5th graders will be given approximately 20 items.  The picture is built on top of paper that is 12x18, and the picture is created with random items found at home such as stickers, bottle caps, popsicle sticks, and things found at the Scrap Box.  We did show samples at the coaches meeting, and as previously answered in another blog post, we cannot provide photos of pictures.

No Bones About It

Q & A
1. If asked on test to give an example of long bones can they answer as in study guide "bones of arms & legs, except wrist, ankle & patella" or do they have to give specific name of bone (humerus, radius, ulna, femur, etc)?

2. If asked on test to give an example of short bones on test can they answer as in study guide "ankle & wrist bones" or do they need to answer carpal and tarsal bones?

ANSWER to Questions 1 & 2

Students will be expected to know the SCIENTIFIC NAMES of the bones. (For example, “upper arm bone” is incorrect – the correct answer is “Humerus”)

Please see the Detailed Event Description under the subtitle "Event Parameters".

3. Do they need to know names of individual carpal and tarsal bones?

ANSWER: In an answer to a previous Blog question, we indicated that students are responsible for knowing the names of bones identified in the Study Guide, so the students are not required to know the names of the individual carpal or tarsal bones.

4. If asked to give examples of the different types of synovial joints are they just responsible for examples listed on page 11 of study guide?

ANSWER: Students are responsible for knowing the different synovial joints listed in the Study Guide and, as indicated in an earlier posting, they may need to know about some non-synovial joints.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Water Rockets

A Water Rockets study guide will be published soon, and it will be announced here. 

Several Water Rockets questions have come in recently. Here are the questions and answers.
Q:  A parent asked if we were building rockets with parachutes or "back gliding"/"back sliding" rockets.  I had assumed we would be building parachute rockets similar to last year, but after reading the event description, it doesn't specify other than in the maximum dimensions.  Will we be using parachutes this year?
A:  Yes, similar to last year, parachutes may be used. Q:  I have two teams who are interested in doing water rockets for 3rd and 4th grade. I’m new to this and I'm not sure how to sign them up for their launch time.
A:  There is only one combined team for 3rd and 4th grades for each school.  We will be using SignUp Genius for self-scheduling.  More details will be coming in the next 2 weeks. Q:  Looking at the schedule posted on 3/19, I don't see any times given for the 5th grade water rockets event. Has that been published somewhere?
A:  Schools can sign up for a time slot using SignUp Genius later this month.  Details will be coming in the next two weeks. Q:  I have a question about the dimensions of the rockets, the total height max is 250 cm which seems too tall? And the max width is listed as 30 cm which seems too small if you include the parachute.

A:  250 cm is the maximum length of the rocket with the parachute fully extended.  In other words, if you were to pull the center of the parachute out as far as it goes, the linear distance from the tip of the parachute to the bottom of the bottle or fins (whichever extends further) must not exceed 250 cm.The 30 cm max width is for a fully assembled rocket.  In other words, with the parachute packed and fitted with the nose cone, the rocket, including fins, should be able to pass through a hole 30 cm in diameter.

Circuit Wizardry

Slides from the fourth Circuit Wizardry workshop are now available on the WESO Website here.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Feathered Friends

Q: I am wondering if there could possibly be a typo on the 3rd grader's list. "Barn Owl" is on the list, even if this bird cannot be found in the state of Michigan anymore. Any chance it could actually be the far more common"Barred Owl" instead?

 A: While the Barn Owl is endangered in Michigan, there have been a few documented sightings in Southeast Michigan within the past few years. This species is a great way for students to learn how humans impact birds in our area.

Gravity Racer

1) Are students allowed to change the ramp height between the launches?


2) Can students release the car anywhere on the ramp?


Sunday, April 2, 2017


Q: On the harnesses supplied to our school, the eye hook that is to be used to attach the carrier is closed, but at the workshop, the eye hook is open. Will the eye hook on the bottom of the harness at competition be open or closed?

A: The eye hook will be closed, like the harnesses supplied to schools for practice. 

Q: At the end of a run, are students required to take the ping pong ball out of the carrier? Will they need to detach the carrier from the harness between runs?

A: Yes, students are required to take the ping pong ball out of the carrier and detach the cable car from the harness between runs.