News and Updates

Information about 2021 Elementary Science Olympiad

We hope that you are doing well. We know how much our elementary students look forward to the science olympiad each year and so, as a Board, we are committed to ensuring that there will be a WESO 2021. The safety and well-being of all our Olympians, Coaches, and Volunteers is one of our top priorities, and so we have made the decision to hold this year’s Science Olympiad virtually. Below we’ve listed a general overview of this year’s event. As in past years we require that a representative from each school serve as the school’s head coach.

  We will be hosting a Head Coach meeting via Zoom on December 3, 2020, 6:30-7:30pm and require that a representative from each school participate in that meeting. 

Goal of WESO 2021

As in past years, the Washtenaw Elementary Science Olympiad strives to create an environment which inspires students to learn and explore new scientific concepts in a fun and innovative way. We encourage teamwork and strive to emphasise learning over winning. 

Event Format

Because we are unable to gather in-person, this year’s events will be self-directed by students and will include a combination of hands-on activities, recorded content, and assessment. Each month, January – May will feature a theme compiled from past and current WESO events such as “Health Sciences” and “Back To Nature”. As Head Coach, you will be asked to communicate to students in your school the monthly theme schedule and collect names and contact information for participating students. WESO will release materials relating to that month’s theme on a weekly basis. These materials will include hands-on activities and recorded learning modules. Hands-on activities will use common household items and will encourage student investigation and observation. Students will record their work and turn into the school’s head coach for credit. The Head Coach may choose how completed activities will be collected.. Photos showing the finished project will be acceptable. In order to participate, students must have access to a device, internet, and a google email. Content will be shared using the google platform and will include a combination of google slides, links to educational websites, and assessments will be given using Pear Deck. Any student grades 2-5 from a participating school may participate in this year’s WESO events. Content will be grade appropriate and students may participate in 1 or all 5 months.

Assessments

Assessments will be given on the last Saturday of each month (January 30, February 27, March 27, April 24). Because Memorial Day weekend falls at the end of the month the May assessment will be given either May 22 or June 5. Tests will combine grades 2, 3 and 4, 5. The number of questions on each assessment will vary and tests for grades 2 and 3 will last approximately 20 minutes and tests for grades 4 and 5 will last approximately 30 minutes. We anticipate providing two sessions per grade group, a morning and an afternoon time, to allow students to select the time that best fits their schedule. Assessments will be given using Pear Deck (part of the google platform) and all student identifiers will be removed prior to grading. 

Head Coach Responsibilities

The primary responsibility of the Head Coach will be to act as liaison between the WESO Board and students in your school. Due to this year’s virtual format and the absence of event coaches and workshop sessions, the majority of the communication between WESO and students will be sent through the Head Coach. As in past years, student anonymity is important and we will rely on you to keep track of how many students are participating each month and to relay that information to us. Parents will be required to fill out a permission form to acknowledge their child’s participation in WESO. We will collect student names and emails for tracking purposes only, and all identifiers will be removed prior to the grading of the assessment. Email address will not be recorded.

Additionally, WESO participants must comply with any internet and device-use policies determined by their school districts. It is our goal that WESO be accessible to as many students as possible. We ask that if a student needs assistance with activity supplies or forms that they contact you directly. We will work with you to ensure that the student has access to these items. More specific information on Head Coach responsibilities will be shared on our December 3rd Zoom call. We have also created this Head Coach Information Sheet https://docs.google.com/document/d/1akOZbnM0S1_ORzGTQbMDod-1Kik3ZbKw6QR_-a_wYHk/edit?usp=sharing

Awards/Recognition

All students who participate will receive a WESO lanyard. In addition, upon successful completion of the month’s themed activities and assessment, students will receive a WESO pin. Additionally, individual participation will be counted toward an overall school spirit award. We look forward to sharing information about specific monthly themes and head coach responsibilities at our December 3rd Zoom meeting. A link to join will be sent via email the week of November 30th. In advance of that date, please email: wesoscience@gmail.com to RSVP for the December 3rd meeting or to share an updated contact name and email for your school.

Again, THANK YOU for your partnership in supporting WESO 2021.  

Sincerely,

Your WESO Board

Individual student assessment results

Q: Is it possible to view a student’s assessment results/answers along with the answer key after the assessments are finished?

A: We are unable to share any assessment results beyond whether or not a student has demonstrated proficiency. With the absence of students being able to work together in teams, this year we really want to stress proficiency as opposed to competitive ranking. In addition, as WESO themes evolve over time, we do use one year’s test to inform and provide a format for the following year’s test. Therefore, we cannot provide individual test results or an answer key to students. 

Assessment Submission

We have received some questions today about how students should submit their Pear Deck Assessment. Please know that on our end we see student responses in real time and there is no final “button to submit” in Pear Deck. We added the final slide this month to let students know they have reached the final slide and have completed the assessment. At that point they can close the Pear Deck and know that their assessment has been received. All answers are final on our end once the Pear Deck assessment closes on Sunday, February 28th at 2:00pm.

We hope this helps to clarify the assessment submission process.

All About You DNA Information

Q1:  Why does the alcohol need to be very cold for this to work?
A1: DNA is soluble in water but not in alcohol especially in the presence of salt. It is even less soluble in cold alcohol which allows for better precipitation of the DNA.

Q2: Can you use this method to extract DNA from other fruits? Vegetables?A2: All fruits and vegetables have DNA but some will work better than others especially using this crude “kitchen” lab. Most cells are diploid, which means they have two sets of chromosomes but some crops are actually polyploids meaning they have more chromosomes. Strawberries are actually octoploids (8 chromosomes) so they yield a lot of DNA for a small amount. You also need to work with something that is easily liquified. After strawberries, kiwi and bananas (no peel for those) are your best bets.

Q3: What can you do with the DNA goop once you’ve got it? (it is currently labeled and stored in a small plastic container) Could you do anything with the DNA? A3: Unfortunately, without special reagents and equipment there is not much you can do with the DNA. In a lab, that DNA would be purified more and then could be sequenced, compared to other DNA from other strawberries or plants, cloned, and many other things.