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 third guest blog is from Sam Lossef from School Without Walls High School.

May 13th was an action packed day that included commuting to Pittsburgh, checking into our hotel, and setting up posters.. After getting settled at the Wyndham Grand Hotel, Team DC explored the convention center and got a head start on poster preparation. At the end of the day, we participated in the ISEF pin exchange. I met and spoke with other finalists from Egypt, Germany, Japan, Singapore, China, and Australia and traded over 20 pins. It was fascinating to hear about the scientific research happening around the world.

Day 2 began with breakfast at the hotel restaurant. We walked over to the convention center at 9 and finished the approval process of our posters. Dinner at the convention center was followed by the ISEF Welcoming Ceremony. Representatives from over 70 countries ran up to the stage to introduce their nations.

Day 3 of ISEF was a blast. We visited the duquesne incline and viewed the entire city of Pittsburgh from the top. Later we stopped off at subway for sandwiches. In the evening, there was a DJ finalist event with great music and food.

Day 4 was the long awaited judging day. We woke up early and arrived at the convention center at 8:00 am for the first rounds. Judging finished at 4:00 pm and we returned to the hotel to rest. In the evening, we took the subway line to the Heinz Stadium for dinner. We also visited the Carnegie Science Museum which had some fascinating exhibits.

Day 5 was public day. We arrived at the convention at 9:00 am and shortly after, buses full of Pittsburgh local students arrived at the convention center. I had a chance to present my project to both middle school and high school students. I also took some time to view other projects in the exhibit hall in order to get ideas for new projects. After public viewing, team DC spent the afternoon viewing artwork at the Andy Warhol museum nearby. In the evening, I attended the special awards ceremony where I was very fortunate to receive the second place prize from NASA for my project.

Today was the long awaited grand award ceremony. We arrived at the convention center when the ceremony commenced. I was very fortunate to receive the Second Place Grand Award for Physical Energy. After the ceremony, Team DC said final goodbyes to Pittsburgh and boarded the flight back to DC.

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