WSSEF Experience Part 1

Posted by on April 8, 2014

WSSEF (Washington Science and Engineering Fair) LogoThis is part one of the series that I will be writing during this coming week about my experience at the 2014 Washington State Science and Engineering Fair ( WSSEF for short ) that was on April 4-5. It will include the registration process, the judging sessions(lots of fun), introduce some of my new friends, and (of course) the awards ceremony! I will also include some tips on how to have a great science fair project. Enjoy!

History of WSSEF

First, a little history of WSSEF. From the program:

The Washington State Science and Engineering Fair began as the Kitsap County Science Fair in 1957. The fair was expanded to include Mason and Jefferson counties in the 1970’s. At that time engineering was added and the name was altered to reflect the change. In 1984 the Fair became the Western Washington Science and Engineering Fair and open to all students located within that geographical area. During the decade of the 1980’s the decision was made to affiliate with the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), and the Fair was expanded to become the Washington State Science and Engineering Fair (WSSEF) with students from throughout the state participating.

Registration

There were a few issues with registration – the website went down when they tried to update it for this year. As a webmaster myself, it was kind of sad at first – the first time that I went on the WSSEF website, I realized that a lot of the in-site links were broken. I used Google to search the site (using the site:wssef.org tag) to try to find the registration forms. But, the links on the page that linked to the forms were all broken. It was kinda frustrating to keep getting a 404 error message.

Fortunately, the “Contact Us” links were all working, so I was able to email the person in charge of registration so that she could email me the necessary forms.

Since my project did not involve Humans, Vertebrate Animals, Tissues, Microorganisms, or Potentially Hazardous Biological Agents, I did not have to fill out any extra SRC (Scientific Review Committee) required paperwork. I’m glad I didn’t since it would have taken a lot of time to complete it. If you will be doing a project involving one of these things, make sure to get the forms as soon as possible, so that you will have enough time to complete them.

The original registration due date was Mar. 15, so my paperwork had already been sent in by then. But since the website had been down, the WSSEF board decided to push that date forward another week – good move! That must have made it a lot harder to input everyone, since that was only 2 weeks before the fair.

Check-In

Check-in for grades 7-12 was held starting at 7:30 pm on Friday (April 4). My dad and I got there at about 7:10ish. When we got to the entrance, the line had already snaked back and forth at least 6 times. It must have been at least 50-75 feet long. While waiting in  line, we were surveyed by one of the volunteers for our ZIP code and the number of people in our party. I assume that it was for grant money for the fair. After we answered a few questions, Daddy and I both got neon pink stickers that said “Science Rocks!” I teased him saying, “You know, tough guys wear pink!” 🙂

It was already 7:50-8:00 by he time we finally got to the table. After picking up my Registration form with the ID number, we jumped into another line to pick up my project number. After entering us in the system as “present,” we received the project number, then got in another line to be taken to my station. After marking us down in a spot, we were lead to the section for 7th graders (I am considered a 7th grader in all things except school, since I am a grade ahead). As we passed by the 5th and 6th grade sections, I watched the kids talk to each other, none-too-quietly. Since the 1-6 graders have their second judging session starting at 6:30ish, they often run pretty late. Last year, us 6th grade kids didn’t get released until 9:30!

Once we arrived at my spot, the volunteer who had lead us to the spot gave me my WSSEF green bag. I contained a few goodies, like a water bottle, magnet, and pen. It also had an FAQ brochure, the schedule for the fair, and the schedule for the Science Film Festival, which was being held in the school’s auditorium. After setting up my project board, and putting the final touches, we left the building at about 8:30, after waiting in many lines, to get a good night’s rest.

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