Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Friday Water Rocket Build

Q:  Will there be a hole punch? Used for cutting holes in parachute?

A:  Yes. There will hole punches and plastic stick-on eyelets for parachute holes.

Q:  Can the kids bring a list of dimensions with them Friday night? Or are they required to memorize the size dimensions of each piece of the rocket?
-          Fin length
-          Parachute diameter
-          Line lengths

A:  No materials, notes, or reference sheets may be brought into the event.

Q:  The study guide gives Mach 1 as being 660 mph, but this is only at 35,000ft above sea level. Do the kids have to know that the speed of sound varies by pressure/altitude?
(for example, at sea level, it is ~760mph)

A:  It is not necessary to get that detailed.

Water Rockets3/4 awards Ceremony

Water Rockets results and medals for the 3/4 team will be announced at the 4th grade award ceremony.  The ceremony begins at 5:00 pm.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Further Clarification, Testing situation, No Bones

Questioning further:
Regarding the test instructions, it states to move on the next question/station if you do not know the answer - does that mean that students may move to the next station prior to the bell ringing?  Likewise, can they move onto the stations prior to the 10 minutes of the written portion?  Also, if they revisit a station, how much time will they have at that station?  The instructions state that the exam can be separated and worked on in sections, can the teams divide and have each person go to a different station?

Regarding the sample questions:

Arrow D in question 1 looks like it could be pointing to the metatarsals instead of the phalanges.  I can see how that might cause some confusion for 2nd and 3rd graders since metatarsal is not an answer choice.  Will the pictures on the exam be clear for the young children to discern to where the arrows are pointing? 

Question 3 has the statement "The clavicle is also known as the collar bone"  Based on the coaches meeting and various blog answers, it seemed that the students need to know the scientific names of all of the bones.  This statement requires them to also know the common names of the bones as well.  Do they need to know common names?  If so, what common names are they expected to know?

Question 4 states, "Phalanges are the bones that make up"  The answer listed is hands and feet.  I can see the kids answering fingers and toes since the metacarpals, metatarsals, carpals, and tarsals also make up the hands and feet.  Will it be clear on the exam for the second and third graders to determine what answer is being sought?

Question 5 states, " Name the 5 parts of the axial skeleton"  The answer listed is skull, hyoid bone, vertebrae, sternum, ribs.  The answer is missing the ear ossicles, I can imagine that the kids would likely answer, skull, rib cage (which includes sternum and ribs), vertebral column, hyoid, and ossicles.  Will it be clear on the exam what answer is being sought?

Question 7 states, "Which bone protects the brain?"  While the answer is cranium, I can see how this question might confuse the kids since the cranium is several cranial bones not a single bone.  Therefore, they might think that there is one specific bone that protects the brain and pick a different answer thinking that they haven't learned the specific name of the specific bone that protects the brain.  Similarly, one of the potential answers to name a flat bone is "skull."  The skull consists of cranial and facial bones, some of which are flat and some of which are irregular.  Will it be clear on the exam, when the question is looking for a specific bone or looking for a group of bones as an answer?

In regard to the slide on the study guide referring to commonly broken bones, the slide primarily refers to body parts (arm) or joint names (hip, wrist, ankle).  Usually, broken hip refers to femur, wrist to radius and ulna, and ankle to tibia and fibula.  Will the students be expected to answer the common names as on the slide or the scientific names?

In regard to a previous blog answer that students may need to know parts of a long bone, will they need to know the terms diaphysis, epiphysis and metaphysis?


The supervisors will direct the movement of teams to and between stations. Each team will be allotted the same time at each station. Teams that interfere with or attempt to distract another team will be penalized and may be disqualified.

Teams should select the best answer from the possible options for multiple choice, true/false, and matching questions. They should provide full and complete answers to fill-in-the-blank questions being careful not to add incorrect information to an otherwise correct answer. Any arrows will be pointed specifically to the bones we want identified.

Students are responsible for knowing only the bones in the Study Guide. As a reminder, they are expected to know the scientific names of the bones and to be familiar with the common names. In addition, as noted in previous blog answers, the students may need to be familiar with the different parts of long bones.

The No Bones About It Supervisors

Saturday, May 27, 2017

WESO 2017 General Information (repeat)

This is a repeat posting from a few weeks ago. It is important that every parent and coach read this and understand what will happen next week at Pioneer High School, especially for those joining the tournament for the first time.

Head Coaches have also received information about name tags, food donations, raffle baskets, and other event-day happenings.

A link to the website with this content is here. You can download a PDF of this information here.

The entire content of the web page is copied below for your convenience.

2017 Washtenaw Elementary Science Olympiad Tournament
Guide for Parents and Coaches


Pioneer High School
601 W. Stadium Blvd.
Ann Arbor, MI

June 3, 2017
8:00 am - 9:00 pm

Pioneer High School is located at 601 W Stadium Blvd in Ann Arbor. Click here for a map. There is construction on Main St. and Stadium Blvd, so plan your drive accordingly.

Doors open at 7:15 a.m. 

The primary parking lot is next to S. Main Street. Please do not park in “drop off” areas or circular drives, as this will block fire lanes.  Respect handicap spaces. Parking can be challenging with such a large group gathering. Plan extra time and come with patience and courtesy in mind.

School Tables
Each school will have a designated table in the main cafeteria.  This should be the first place families go when they arrive at Pioneer. The cafeteria is not large enough to provide seating for everyone. Additional seating is available outside the main gym and there are a few picnic tables in the courtyard adjacent to the cafeteria. 

T-shirts and Identification

All team members should wear their school’s t-shirt and have a name tag that identifies them by first name, grade level, and the names and start/end times for each event they are participating in. A template of this name tag has been sent to Head Coaches via the Google Group.

Name tags for students who do not wish to be photographed should have a red dot on them that will be visible to photographers.

WESO Board Members
All Board members will be wearing multi-colored tie-dye t-shirts and lanyards with nametags. There is usually a Board member in the gym area, another in the cafeteria, and one in the academic hallway. If you can’t find one of us, visit the Volunteer Check-in table outside the cafeteria, and they will help you locate someone.

Supervisors and Key Volunteers
Supervisors of events and key areas of the tournament will be wearing two-tone purple tie-dye t-shirts. These volunteers have undergone training, and some have multiple years’ of experience, so they are ready to assist you and help the tournament run efficiently.


We are anticipating thousands of students, parents, and coaches, and need everyone's cooperation to maintain safety and security throughout the building.

Many areas of Pioneer are off limits to WESO participants and guests. Please stay out of any areas that have “Caution” tape or are marked “Do Not Enter.” Do not open any locked exterior doors, and do not go beneath the bleachers in the large gym.

Parents and coaches may not accompany students into the academic hallways, that is, the hallways past the Academic check-in table.

Running and rough play in the building is prohibited. Pioneer’s campus is vast – burn off that extra energy outside!

Call 911 in case of a life-threatening medical emergency.

First Aid kits are available at the Volunteer Check-in table and the Academic Check-in table. AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators) are available at various locations in the school. Check the maps in the hallways for locations, or ask a Supervisor or Board member.


Volunteers should check in at the Volunteer Check-in Table (located outside the cafeteria) 10 minutes before their assigned time. You will need to wear a special nametag if you are working at an academic event or in the academic wing; for safety reasons, only adult volunteers are allowed in the academic event hallways.

Email reminders with information about volunteer shifts will be sent to Head Coaches. Some reminders may also be sent directly to volunteers, for example, volunteers who will be asked to work outdoors, so they can prepare accordingly.

Supervisors and Key Volunteers: Supervisors and Key Volunteers have been recruited from WESO schools and given special training to help run certain areas of the tournament. They can be found at several areas of the building, including Open Events, Volunteer Check-in, and Academic Check-in. They will be wearing purple tie-dye t-shirts and will have a nametag that says “Supervisor”. Feel free to ask them for help and advice as you navigate the building and the tournament schedule. Please respect their requests for avoiding restricted areas of the building or resolving issues that may occur.


Food & Drinks: Sale of food is the primary fundraiser for WESO. Please purchase items that are available if possible, and refrain from bringing in your own food. Pizza, beverages, and baked goods will be available for purchase. Food and beverage items will cost $1.00 or $2.00.

Each school is asked to bring two dozen baked treats, individually wrapped. All items must be nut free. Don’t bring fruit – WESO will provide fruit. Beverages and pizza will be available as well.

Consumption of all food and drinks will be limited to the cafeteria or outdoors. This rule will be strictly enforced.

Schools should drop off donated baked goods or food at the cafeteria early Saturday morning.
Raffle: There will be a variety of gift baskets for raffle during the tournament. Please participate and purchase some tickets! WESO relies on raffle ticket sales to support the tournament.

Donated raffle baskets should be dropped off in the cafeteria on Friday evening. Please be sure to submit a list of items in the basket along with the name of the school.

Open Events: Located in the Cafeteria Annex, near the clock tower (Stadium Blvd) entrance. We will have exploratory stations in Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Math, Technology and more, as well as representatives from a variety of local groups.

All children (WESO participants, siblings, friends, etc.) are welcome to participate in Open Events. We hope the students find the events fun and informative.

Academic Event Check-in
For the majority of events, the check-in will be on the first floor, in the classroom section of the building. Ask your Head Coach or consult a map for directions. Exceptions are Water Rockets and On Target (see below for check-in locations for these).
Student teams should arrive at Academic Check-in 10-15 minutes prior to the scheduled event start time.
Check in your whole team at once if possible. In order to avoid a large crowd at the check-in station, please designate one adult to escort your team to the area. Once the students have been dropped off, this person should leave the area.

A sign near the check-in table will tell you where your Olympians will return when finished with their event. Students may check themselves in without an adult if they wish.

For safety reasons, we cannot allow anyone who is not participating in an academic event, or actively volunteering, to enter the Academic hallways. This means that parents and coaches will not accompany students to their events. There are many adult volunteers and trained Supervisors to help your students get where they are going. There will be signs and volunteers to help you identify public and off-limits areas of the school. Your cooperation is expected and appreciated.

Back-to-Back Events
Students who have back-to-back events in the academic area should identify themselves at check-in. They will be given a sticker that indicates they have a back-to-back event. Volunteers in the hallways will ensure they get where they are going.

Students with events that are back-to-back with On Target or Water Rockets will need to plan for extra travel time. Volunteers will NOT escort students to or from On Target or Water Rockets – a parent or coach will need to escort the student. Ask for help at the Academic Check-in table if you are not sure how to proceed, or how to get from one location to another.

On Target Check-in
On Target takes place in the small gym, and that’s where you’ll check in. Spectators are welcome.

Water Rockets Check-in
Check in directly at the practice lacrosse field, located far behind the tennis courts and softball diamond. This is a long walk from the building so allow yourself plenty of time!  The most direct path is to exit the school at the rear of the cafeteria. Signs will guide you from there to the Water Rockets location.

Awards Ceremonies

Award ceremonies will be held in the large gym. The times are
11:00 a.m. (2nd grade)
2:00 p.m. (3rd grade)
5:00 p.m. (4th grade)
8 p.m. (5th grade)

Banner Parade
Awards ceremonies begin with a banner parade. Please assign only two Olympians to carry your school banner. Have those students at the large gym 15 minutes before the start of the award ceremony so we can order them alphabetically by school.

Medals will be presented to 1st – 5th place finishers for each event in each grade, plus 4 honorable mentions. Each participating student will receive a medal if his/her team places.

Teams to receive medals for an event will be called to the stage, and medal placements will be announced starting with honorable mentions, then places 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1.

Students and parents are expected to exhibit outstanding sportsmanship during awards ceremonies, including listening to speakers, being respectful of each other, and celebrating the accomplishments of all schools, not just their own. Medals are an important part of WESO, but our ceremonies are designed primarily to celebrate science education and the progress all of our students have made in learning new and exciting STEM topics.

It can get very loud in the gym at times, which makes it difficult to hear the speakers. You and your students can help this by listening quietly when someone is speaking and keeping noise to a minimum. Coaches and parents, it is up to you to monitor your students.

Miscellaneous Topics

WESO is supported by numerous local sponsors, without whom the tournament would not be possible. Sponsors have given grants, provided volunteers, prepared and taught workshops, or made other contributions of their time and talent. Take a moment to check out the “Thank you!” posters in the hallways and thank our sponsors if you get a chance.  Where possible, please support the local businesses that support WESO.

Representatives of sponsor companies will help distribute medals at the ceremonies.

Concerns or questions about an event
Any concerns or questions regarding a specific event should be brought to your head coaches first. Head coaches may then submit concerns at the Volunteer Check-in desk and an appropriate WESO Board member will be contacted. Please remember that supervisors have authority over scoring their events, including resolving ties. They will answer questions from student participants before the event begins. If you (parent or coach) have a concern, do not disrupt an event. Take your concern to your head coach who should direct it to a WESO Board member.

All other concerns may be brought directly to any of the Board members or to the Volunteer Check-in table.

Building Security
WESO employs security guards to monitor the building during the tournament. If you have a security concern, please contact a Board member or a security guard.  Board members have walkie-talkies and cell phone numbers for the security guards.

There is a public WiFi connection in the school, but due to the large number of people who will be there during the day, do not expect fast connections. WESO is not responsible for the WiFi, and cannot help with connection or device problems.

Final Thoughts

As you and your Olympian participate at WESO, don’t forget that everyone who is working hard to make this possible is a volunteer, including you.

Thank you for all you’ve done to put STEM education front and center in Washtenaw County!

Best wishes to all the teams!

Thursday, May 25, 2017


In the event description, it was stated "Teams will have approximately 90 seconds (1 1/2 minutes) for each question. They will be asked to move to another station after 90 seconds." and "Teams can move to another station if they are done with their question and if the station they want to move to does not already have a team located there."

Does this mean not all teams "switch station" at the same time? Do the students just look for an empty station that they have yet to visit (or want to re-visit) when they are done with the current station? Is it possible some teams will not get a chance to visit all stations?

Students can move to another empty station once they are done with the current station. We will make sure that all teams get to every station at least once.

Further Clarification:
Students have about 90 second  to answer each question. For very few questions they may need the entire 90 seconds. They are allowed to move on to another station if they are done with one.  We will make sure that every team gets to go to all stations at least once.

The answer for the 10th question  will be based on clues in one previous question. It is true that they can only answer the 10th question after they see all other 9 questions.  We will either include all questions on the answer sheet provided or have all previous 9  questions printed  on a sheet in the 10th station.

Gravity Racer CORRECTION


1.  The Gravity Racer ramps supplied to schools were not marked.  To answer the question, yes, the competition ramps are marked in 10 cm increments.

2.  Yes, please bring your kits to the competition.  We do have a kit available to borrow if your team forgets their kit.   Please do not bring your ramp.  All teams will use the competition ramps for the event.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Gravity Racer parts cleaning suggested

Gravity Racer

Q:  Our lego kits have wheels/axles that don't turn very well.  What can we do?

A:  We have found this is generally due to dust and dirt collecting on the Lego parts.  We recommend soaking for a short period of time in soap and water and if particularly dirty, gently scrubbing with a soft brush.  The rubber wheels in particular tend to retain dust/dirt.

Barge Building CORRECTION

I would like to correct an answer ...  I do announce both the cargo and the mass in grams of one piece at the start of the event.  For example, "The cargo is paper clips and the mass of each piece is 1 gram" (this is an example in the event description).  I will give a 5 minute and 1 minute warning during the build time for sure.  They should not bring a watch/stopwatch.

Barge Building Supervisor


 1) The event description stated that "Answer sheet, scrap paper and one pencil per participating school will be provided." Does each team only get ONE sheet of scrap paper and ONE pencil, regardless of how many people there are in the team?

2) The event description also stated that "The answers to questions 1 through 9 do not need any information from other questions." But I thought there will be a total of 10 questions. Does this mean the 10th question will require information from other questions, and the teams should try to do the 10th question last?

3) Are the students encouraged to talk and discuss (with moderate volume) during the event? Some kids like to read the problem out loud and do the math verbally. Would that become an issue if all 10 stations are within the same classroom?

1) Yes. Each team will be given answer sheet, one sheet of scrap paper and one pencil. If they need additional sheet after they finished using the first sheet , they can ask for an additional sheet. They will have to return to us everything including the scrap paper.

2) Yes, 10th question will need some clues from the previous questions (not from the answers of these questions). So they can do it last.  However, some questions may be difficult  compared to others and the students may want to go back to the respective stations again,  then it would be better they finish the 10th question if they can before they go to these stations.

3) It is important that the students make least amount of noise so that the other teams are not disturbed. They can discuss among each other at a very low volume. But reading aloud and doing the math verbally is not advised.

Builder's write?

Are the builders allowed to write on their paper?  May they write words like "done", "maybe", etc. next to the directions given to them by their writing partners? 
They may write on the writers' pages, but not on the paper they build on.  Only "Top" and their school name is allowed on the building paper.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Townships and Ranges, Maps

At the Map Reading workshop, I asked if there will be questions on Townships, Ranges, etc for the 4th/5th grade event. I noted that the answer was that those would not be asked. However, I just saw that in the Detailed Event Description, it does mention township and range labels. Please clarify if these should be covered in training and to what degree. Thanks.

No these will not be asked.

Feathered Friends


Just a quick question regarding the sounds. How involved will a question be about the sounds they make? Will they be presented with an audio clip and they need to know which bird it is? We have been studying all the sounds but we are just curious as to how they will be resented to them.
thank you


Yes, they will identify the bird making the call.

Monday, May 22, 2017

To Infinity and Beyond

This is our first year coaching and the first year in a while that our school has had a team for "To Infinity and Beyond."  We have a few questions:

- With regards to the paper test, the WESO event description states that there will be some calculation questions.  What will be the content of these calculations?

Only in the 4th and 5th grade test, there may be something regarding time, distance, speed or  acceleration. A simple multiplication or division problem. 2nd and 3rd grade there is no calculation.

- With regards to the planetarium test, can the students talk to one another about the answers or is one student just writing the answers the whole time while the other holds the flashlight?  Does spelling count on this portion of the test (we are particularly thinking of our second graders)?

We will give the team a clipboard with a mounted red light, the answer sheet and a pencil. They may discuss quietly, since they can’t disturb other teams, but also don’t want to give away answers. It might help to have them decide in advance who gets the recording job, etc. and practice how to decide answers with their partner. I don’t believe spelling is considered, please check the Detailed Event Description.
- We have two students who may need additional support during the tests.  One has an anxiety disorder and the other some learning challenges, including ADHD. I understand that the coaches cannot be in the room during the testing, but is it possible for one of us to wait outside in the hallway in case there is an issue?

Yes, we allow extra support if the child in question gets support in testing situations in the classroom.( They must have an IEP that states whatever modifications are helpful.) If you let us know this in advance, we can arrange for an adult helper/assistant. In rare cases, we have had a parent waiting outside the testing room.

Gravity Ramp/ Correction

I have questions about Gravity Racer.
1. Will the ramp have "10 cm" markings on it so students can figure out where to launch from? Or will the launch ramp be completely unmarked?
2. I know we're expected to bring our racer LEGO kits but are we expected to bring our ramp too?

1.       The competition ramps will be marked the same as the ramps that were provided to schools.
2.       No.

Coaches: Please read the Detailed Event descriptions before you send questions.


1.  The Gravity Racer ramps supplied to schools were not marked.  To answer the question, yes, the competition ramps are marked in 10 cm increments.

2.  Yes, please bring your kits to the competition.  We do have a kit available to borrow if your team forgets their kit.   Please do not bring your ramp.  All teams will use the competition ramps for the event.

Constellations and calculators

1) Will the constellations (in Planetarium portion) have outlines.

1- YES, there will be lines

2) Do the second and third graders need to bring a scientific calculator with them. What kind of calculations will be there.

2- NO, they will not need them.

testing format Feathered Friends

If the students feel like they need to go back and review a station once they have rotated through all of them, can they go back and look at a station again?

We have decided to go station-free, blending in ID questions with written exam questions. There will be a guided PowerPoint and emcee. Each question will be presented for 30 seconds.

I let students re-see ID questions last year with no limits; I had no problem with this. I think it will be okay to revisit questions by showing images for 10-15 seconds.

So, the answer is:

Students will be given reasonable opportunity to request information from a previous question.

- Will the participants answer the questions on a computer, a scantron, or will they write the answers on a sheet?

They will record their team answers on an answer sheet by hand.

- As the event time is scheduled for 30 minutes, how many questions will they be asked? Or, in other words, how many minutes do they get per question? I was told that they will be given ample time to answer and hence the question.

Each Question will be presented for 30 seconds.

- The event description says that homemade notes are encouraged along with the field guides. Is there a limit to the number of pages or books that are allowed?

Not really, but considering that they will be watching, listening, and responding fairly quickly we would discourage too many pages .

- While the review list comprises of 40 birds, there are over 250 birds in Washtenaw County. Is there a shorter list for County Birds and how does one prioritize?

Priority is given to the birds on the review list, and for 3rd graders also the 2nd grade list. We will not try to stump them with rare, unfamiliar birds.

No Bones test format

Tournament Test Questions:

1. Have you finalized the format of the the (sic) No Bones About It event?  Specifically, have you finalized the number of stations through which the students will rotate?  Will they have a specific amount of time at each station?  Will they be told when to rotate to the next station?  Have you finalized the number of questions on the written exam?

 2. Can you give any guidance on the number of total questions available within the study timeframe? The guide says the kids will answer as many questions as possible in the timeframe. Or perhaps a few example questions would be helpful instead?


Yes. There will be 3-5 stations. Teams will have 2-3 minutes at each station, depending on the number of stations. Teams will be told when to move to another stations. Yes. There will be ample time for a well-prepared team to answer all of the questions in the allotted time. We have attached some sample practice questions along with the test instruction sheet and hope this helps your students to prepare for the upcoming tournament in a few weeks. We look forward to a fun morning on June 3rd.

No Bones Supervisors

Test Instructions 

Sample Questions

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Gravity Racers

Reminder to Gravity Racer coaches:
   Students will need to bring their own Lego kits to the competition. Their kit must be fully disassembled when they arrive at the competition. This includes taking the tires off the hubs.

Gravity Racer distance?

Will there be a distance released in advance of June 3 event for the Gravity Racers?

No. Students will be informed of the distance when they arrive at the event.  They will be told verbally, and will be shown the distance visually.

Aerodynamics and site visits

Q:  We were asked about team members meeting Event Supervisors and touring Pioneer in advance of the competition.

A:  Although we appreciate the preparation you are doing for your team, we have asked that our Event Supervisors not meet individually with teams.  This is to respect their time as well as maintain the fairness of the event.  Touring the location is similar in that we cannot do a walkthrough for all teams and final preparations are still in the works.  In addition, WESO is a guest of the AAPS at Pioneer and our access to the school is limited.  Your head coach, if they attended the meeting May 11th, can give a general description of classrooms or competition space.

If you have concerns, a Board Member or Head Coach would be happy to talk with you about strategies to prepare your team members for facing a new and unknown situation.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

In Bloom

 Our team was scheduled to attend the second  workshop that was cancelled 4/29. We were not able to attend on 5/3.  Is there any information available to see what was presented at that workshop?

Also, can you let us know what the teams need to know about hydroponics?

Matthaei Botanical Gardens put the workshop together to teach the students about plant adaptations (mostly rain forest and desert) and terrariums (focusing on the water cycle and soil profiles).

The students should know the difference between a passive and active hydroponic system and the components that make them up.  A basic understanding of how hydroponics works is also recommended.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Water Rockets

Could we please get some information about the written part or exam for water rockets? What should the kids do to prepare for that?
Please look on the web site at the posted study materials link

Potions Balance

 What is the model number of the electronic balance that will be used?

This is the scale used in competition.
I think ours are actually white (silver seems to be the default).  A scale with 1.0 g accuracy and a tare feature is what we are looking for.

Clarification on policy regarding electronic devices in academic events

We'd like to clarify a recent blog post regarding electronic devices at WESO. The posting indicated that bringing a tablet computer into an academic event was acceptable as long as it was not used inside the event room as the event took place.

We have discussed that answer and are changing it.

Electronic devices such as phones, tablets (iPads, etc), recording devices, and cameras should not be brought into the academic events area.

If you have an educational or accessibility reason for a student to need such a device in an academic event, please contact the WESO Board so we can review your request. 

Thank you, and sorry for the confusion.

The WESO Board

2017 Tournament General Information

There's a new page on the WESO Website that contains a lot of helpful information about the upcoming WESO Tournament on June 3: where to park, when the awards ceremonies are, how to check in for events, expectations for volunteers, and so on.

We hope it answers a lot of commonly-asked questions, and gives you some ideas of what to expect. 

Click here to view the information. Click here to download a PDF of the same information. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Pasta Bridges

Q: When choosing the 8 shaped pasta pieces, do all 8 pieces have to be of the same type or can they mix and match?
A: The shaped pasta does not have to match. Students may pick any combination of shaped pasta with a maximum of 8 pieces total. Additionally, while we encourage students to take the full 8 pieces, they are not required to take or use all of them.


I have a team of 2 2nd graders for aerodynamics, and we're wondering approximately how many people will be around when they fly the planes.  They're a bit nervous about an audience so I thought it'd help to know what to expect beforehand.  And a coach/parent isn't nearby (visible), right?

The event will be held in the 3rd floor hallway of Pioneer. Only the Event Supervisors and their volunteers , along with other teams competing at the same time, will be present. No coaches or parents are allowed in the event portion of the building.


What physical sciences information will 4th graders need to know?  For example, do they need to know the density of water?  Thanks.

All the science information 4th and 5th  graders need to know are going to be strictly limited at their grade level.  The main focus of this event is to get the students to estimate their answers using logical, mathematical and general knowledge limited to their grade level. There will be no questions asking any kind complicated science information.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Miscellaneous WESO Tournament Questions

Here are some questions and answers of general interest to all participants and families.

Q: There is a lot of information for families to know for the June 3 WESO Tournament – where to park, what to bring, where to check in for events, etc. Can you publish information for general use by our families?

A: Yes, we will soon publish detailed information about the WESO Tournament, and will post it on the website, the Updates Blog, and send a copy to Head Coaches.

Q: It is very loud in the gym during awards ceremonies, and we cannot always hear the speaker. Can WESO use a projector to show the names of the schools being called to the stage instead of announcing them?

A: It would be difficult to create slides, then project those slides, during the ceremony, in part because we are often scoring events DURING awards ceremonies. Creating slides quickly and displaying them properly, without making mistakes, would be difficult.  

The good news is that there is a solution to the problem of too much noise while a speaker is addressing the audience: keep unnecessary noise in the gym to a minimum. Head Coaches, coaches, and parents should set expectations for students at the awards ceremonies to keep noise down, be respectful of the speaker by watching and listening, and demonstrate good sportsmanship if their school’s name is called.

Q: Where and when do we drop off raffle baskets?

A: Drop off your raffle baskets on Friday, June 2, in the cafeteria. When assembling your basket, please follow the guidelines your Head Coach has been given for the raffle baskets. Write us an email at if you need a refresher.

Q: Who will be sent a reminder email for Volunteer slots on June 2 and 3?

A: Head Coaches will receive a reminder about volunteers from their schools. Some individual volunteers may receive a reminder if they will be asked to do a special volunteer job, such as working outside the building.

Q: How early are we allowed to check in for Academic events (i.e. events other than On Target and Water Rockets)? For example, my team has Estimania at 10:00, what would be the earliest we could check in for that event?

A: Teams can check in up to 15 minutes early for their Academic events. In this example, the team could check in for their event starting at 9:45.

There were some recent discussions about increasing this time period to 20 minutes, but 15 minutes prior to the event time is the earliest we will check in teams for 2017.

Q: Our school brings many students – we have found that the space in the cafeteria for our school does not provide enough room for everyone. Can we have more tables this year?

A: Sorry, but we’re out of space in the cafeteria. We have over 40 schools bringing more than 2200 students (and their parents) throughout the day. We recommend using the tables as your “home base” and exploring the Open Events, Raffle Baskets, and the outdoors (weather-permitting). Check out On Target in the Small Gym and Water Rockets launches outside if you have some free time.

You may enter and exit the building freely during the day, and you may find it convenient to leave jackets or non-essential items in your car.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Write It/Build It

1. Are builders allowed to bring a tablet to use while they wait for the writers to finish the description?- ---No. Students should not bring phones, tablets, etc. with them into the academic area [Updated May 16 at 8:25 pm].

2. Does the description have to be written in sentence form?  Or can they do a bulleted list? - ---they can do both, and yes  for bulleted list

3.  Will there be extra parts in the bag that are not used in the picture?- --- No

4.  Are "slashes" allowed?  For example, writing: the blue/gray rectangle is...  - ------ yes,  as long as it is used in its intended function and does not look like a drawing

5.  Are they allowed to write, "page 1", "page 2" on the description? ---- yes

6.  Are the writers allowed to draw a compass on the description?---- NO
!No drawings of any kind !

Thursday, May 11, 2017

ON Target Distance

ON Target Distance announcement:

Target will be between 10 and 11 meters from the launch line.

No precise distance will ever be published.  On the day we set up the
course, we will roll some dice and pick a random value in that interval.

This means you’ll still need to practice for 10, and 11 meters, and
then figure out how to interpolate to get the target distance.



Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Test, timing, format, Back to Nature

How many questions will be on the test?
How long will the students have to complete the assessment?
Is it multiple choice, essay, are there pictures/videos?
Will it be paper pencil or computer based?

Please Read the Detailed Event description, which has the answer to these questions. Go to the event page and click the link.

Open Events


You probably get this question every year from new head coaches, but is there any option for additional students to compete or at least participate in an event? Specifically, we have 2 extra 2nd grade students for Feathered Friends. The coach has offered to help pay if that would help.


There will be many “Open Events” that anyone at the Olympiad may participate in. The actual team event competitions can only have one team per grade level from each school.

Help Wanted: High School Volunteers

I would like to know if I can sign up my highschooler/ myself as a volunteer on the day of the Science Olympiad event on June 3rd.

The Washtenaw Elementary Science Olympiad (WESO 2017) is scheduled to be held on Saturday, June 03, 2017 at Pioneer High School, Ann Arbor. We need high school students to run Open Events which are hands-on experimental stations in different fields of Math & Science. This is a great learning and leadership/volunteering opportunity for participating students. We are currently recruiting students for 3 shifts on June 03:
8 – 12:15pm
12 – 4:15pm
4 – 8:15pm
It is mandatory for all volunteering students to attend a training session on Friday, June 02 from 7 to 8pm in the Pioneer cafeteria.
Please pass on the following sign-up link to your students to sign-up:
Thanks for your time,
Nirmala Rajaram
Co-Vice President & Open Events Coordinator, WESO

Mystery Architecture Tape size?

What is the width of the masking tape provided?

 It is standard 3/4” masking tape.

Write It Build It-

For Write it Build it, will the writers be able to approach the easel to measure?  I'm wondering if they can get close enough to really use finger widths to be able to describe the positioning of the items.  (or will they be too far away and have to eyeball estimate the width? ) Thank you for any clarification!
Yes, they will able to come up to the easel to view the picture better and estimate measurements with their fingers.  We do ask that when they come up to the easel that they do not block the view of the picture from other writers and not to touch the picture directly when they measure to ensure that items from the picture do not get dislodged.  They can hover their fingers over the picture.

ZIp-A-Dee-Doo-Dah practice session May 17

There will be a Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah practice session at Tappan Middle School's cafeteria May 17 from 5:00 - 8:00 pm.

Please sign up for one slot per school per grade.

The SignUp Genius page for the practice session is here.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Photon Phun

 Do I need to teach my students calculations? Ray tracing?


There are no calculations on the quiz.

There are no ray tracing diagrams on the quiz that would ask you to trace light beams through a lens.  The only ray-type diagram is the reflection diagram for 4th and 5th graders during the written portion of the event. 

In the event description there is an example reflection diagram and it is described as follows:  "A light beam is shown to be emerging from a source along a particular direction. The competitor will be asked to predict which mirrors a beam of light will hit along a reflection path from the light source to a target. There will be mirrors on the reflection sheet that will not be hit by the light beam. The answer to the reflection sheet is the identifying letter of the mirrors that the light beam hits, in order, on its way from the source to the target."  Obviously to solve the reflection diagram the students need to know that the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection and they will be given rulers and protractors to help them along. 

Although students will not be asked to draw ray diagrams for lenses they should understand conceptually about convex and concave lenses and mirrors and about focal length and focusing/unfocusing light using lenses.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

I Compute, scratch paper and pencils?

Do you typically provide scratch paper and pencils at all, in case the kids want to do any brainstorming during the practical computing portion?

They will have access to scratch paper and pencils.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Ramp markings

The description says the ramp will be marked in 10 cm increments.  Will the marks be measured starting from the end of the flexible portion or the end of the wood portion?  Will the marks be labeled in centimeters (10, 20 30, etc.)?

The marks are labeled in centimeters from 10 to 110 in increments of 10, and they start from the end of the wood portion (i.e. the melamine shelving board).

Pasta Bridges, height

Q: During one of our practices our 3rd graders built a bridge where the shaped pasta pieces used to elevate the long pasta extended slightly higher than the long pasta.  Is this okay?  That is to say, we understand that the long pasta spanning the gap must be 2.5 cm high, but is it okay if parts of the small shaped pasta supporting it at the ends slightly extend above the long pasta?

A: Absolutely! This is fine but make sure your students understand that our measurement will take place at the highest point along the long pasta span even if the shaped pasta is a bit higher.

bug questions

Will students need to know kingdom, phylum, class, order and family?
My understanding was just order and family for each insect.
You are correct.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.

What will the students need to know about each of the caterpillars of the moths and butterflies?
What they look like, preferential food source(if they are specific like Monarchs)

Will students need to know differences between males and females?
No, they can be very difficult to distinguish- except perhaps females with very obvious ovipositors as body parts

The Western Conifer Seed Bug is in the Coreidae family and there are many other common seed bugs which are found in the Lygaeidae family.
Will students need to know all the families for seed bugs and if not which families should they focus on?
The focus would be on the group, not family.

Same type of question with Stink bugs - the brown marmorated is invasive and seen as a pest but many stink bugs are seen as beneficial.  Which ones should students focus on?
The focus would be on the group, not family. Knowing an example of  an invasive, pest and
one beneficial stink bug would be nice.

There are three parts to the thorax - I'm wondering in what detail should students know about insect body parts. Should we be going into detail about the parts of the thorax with them?
Yes, and knowing the function of the different body parts (not just thorax, but mouthparts, wing and legs)

There are several different sphinx months and not much info at all in the guides.  Can you give some additional information of what to concentrate on for the sphinx month?
Basics like size, activity, coloration- mostly to distinguish them from other moths.

Feathered Friends

It is my understanding that bird names should be spelled correctly during the competition. Does it include the Uppercase/Lowercase? Is red-winged blackbird, or even Red-Winged Blackbird, or RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD, instead of Red-winged Blackbird,  acceptable without any deduction?
All of these are acceptable.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, 3 participants

Please confirm how many participants are allowed for Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah.  The original event description showed 1-2 per grade, but now the web site shows 1-3 per grade.


There was a conflict between the short blurb on the website and our event description.  This was raised in an earlier question and we decided to change the event description for this year to allow up to 3 participants, as some schools placed students into events prior to the full event description being released.