The DC STEM Network manages the DC STEM Fair, and sends the top three high school winners to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF). The DC delegation competed against students in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for 2018 Intel ISEF. This is part one of three student experiences from the top three winners of the Secondary DC STEM Fair 2018. This second guest blog is from Catalina Lemus from Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School.

Team DC kicked off Intel ISEF on May 13th by commuting to Pittsburgh, getting to our hotel, and visiting the convention center to start off poster set up and the pin exchange. At the convention center we discovered a busy hall full of participants setting up their posters. I finished my poster set up and had the chance to check out other posters from participants in my same category. Then, it was time for the pin exchange. I traded 28 pins while talking to people from Vietnam, Indonesia, Canada, and many other U.S. states.

On day 2 of Intel ISEF, team DC walked over to the convention center in the morning and finished setting up props for our presentations. We walked along the waterfront and had a great view back to the hotel. Upon arrival at the hotel, we had a nice break before going back to the convention center for dinner and the opening ceremony. Dinner gave us the opportunity to meet more people. The opening ceremony provided us with great music and speakers. I was inspired by all our speakers but Maya Ajmera inspired me the most in her speech about youth having a voice. I also loved the part at the end of the ceremony in which representatives from each country came up with a poster and video.

Day 3 of Intel ISEF started out with team DC going to the convention center for media day. We went to the incline got a great view of downtown Pittsburgh. Then, we attended the Excellence in Science and Technology panel where we heard from Nobel prize winners. After that we returned back to the hotel for a break before the finalist mixer. At the mixer we experienced great music, great food, and great people. I had tons of fun talking to other participants and dancing to DJ SOSA’s music.

Day 4 of Intel ISEF was judging day. We interacted with several judges throughout the day.  After judging, we all walked back to the hotel for a small break. By 6 in the afternoon we were on our way to the Heinz field for a delicious dinner full of fun. After this great dinner we had the chance to go to the Carnegie Science Center. I was amazed by the train set and the basketball shooting robot.

Day 5 was public viewing day allowing us the chance to talk to a wide variety of people and see all the incredible projects of other kids participating in ISEF. Then, we visited the Andy Warhol museum where we had the chance to see great art. In the evening we attended the special awards ceremony in which we saw many great project win awards and scholarships from organizations and universities.

Today was the final day of Intel ISEF. Team DC went to the Grand Award ceremony where we had the chance to cheer on Sam Loseff as he won second place in the Energy: Physical category. After the ceremony we headed to the airport and sadly had to say bye to Pittsburgh. After landing in DC we all said our goodbyes and headed home.

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