SCIENCE SUNDAY, SORT OF --------------------- John Pazmino NYSkies Astronomy Inc www.nyskies.org firstname.lastname@example.org 2006 March 10 initial 2011 Mar 6 current Introduction ---------- The 2006 running of the New York City Science and Engineering Fair was cancelled on its original date of 12 February 2006. A massive snowstorm blew into the City during the previous afternoon and evening, forcing the fair's space, the City College, to close. The fair crew apparently missed getting word of this closure, showed up on the 12th, and found nothing prepared or set up. There was no crew from the College to work with the fair. The fair had to be scrubbed on the spot, even as some 200 parents, teachers, judges, students streamed into the registration room, straight from the raging storm outside. A few days after the 12th the fair was reset for February 26th. This time the weather was favorable and the fair convened. My account of the February cancellation is in NYSkies as 'Snow science today' on 2006 February 12.
Oh, no, no, go! ------------- I arranged to go with science buddy Steve Kaye to escort his students to City College and get them set up with their exhibits. Then we two would muster up for the judging. We were to meet at the Kings Highway station on the BMT Brighton line at, gasp!, 7AM, quite at sunrise! We and his students would assemble near the turnstiles and board the next uptown train. This would bring us to City College by 8AM for registration. With the crickets chirping, or what ever makes cricket noises in winter, I crawled out of bed, get ready, and headed off to meet Steve. Altho it was in morning twilight on a Sunday, buses and trains were running normally. I got to a transfer station, to change to the Brighton train, with slack time to spare. No Brighton train. The platform was filling up with early morning riders, all figgity in wait. There were no announcements or signs about any reroutes or delays. Time was draining steadily. It closed in on 7AM! Finally, a few minutes after 7AM a train showed up. The ride was swift and calm. But I was late, like really late!. I figured to go to Kings Highway, verify that Steve went on without me, and hop the next train to the College. The Sun was well up when the train ramped onto its berm right-of- way, meaning it was well after 7 o'clock. I skipped down to the turnstiles, fully expecting to confirm that no one was there. There was Steve and three of his students! What happened?! He explained that several students were not there yet. With borrowed cellphones from the students on hand, he was cajoling the missing kids to, well, get their asses to the station like right now. The three students with him had their projects wrapped and ready to go.
Load and go! ---------- After a few more frittered minutes, Steve and I worked up a Plan B. I, after a couple years with the fair, knew the procedures. Steve asked me to go to the fair with the three kids already present. He alone will take care of the latecomers. We saddled up the kids, hustled them to the platform, got the next uptown train. With a change at Atlantic & Pacific, we were on the way to City College. For these three, it was their first visit at the College. One kid had a project about 'modulated intelligence', which I found intriguing, but a bit outside my expertise. My intelligence is well modulated, thank you. The other two were a team with wave- particle interactions. They were measuring the energy of an unknown wave by making a 'chord' with it and a wave of known energy. We chatted about, well, what high school kids chat about. They wanted to learn what it was like for me in high school. They heard fairy tales about civil unrest, the space race, Vietnam, women's movement, education reform (or deform), and all that. Did all this stuff really happen? These three were recent emigrants from the ongoing mass efflux from Russia. These were not American-born children of the folk who left Russia in the last generation. Among themselfs they spoke Russian yet spoke and understood English a lot better than a good portion of native people in the City. They even knew the street words for, erm, items of importance to adolescents. As we rumbled and roared thru Manhattan, we by sheer chance, were greeted by one of Steve's colleagues, an other judge! He got on right into the same car as us at an a transfer station!! This fellow, Mr Kramer, knew that Steve and flock would ride this particular route. Rather than going out to Brooklyn to meet us, he waited at a way station. As each Brighton train pulled in, he scanned thru the windows for us!!
Science in the schools -------------------- The five of us rapped away as the tunnel lights flashed by. One theme was the science education in high schools. Both Kramer and the students knew the score here. Over the last many years, school offerings in the sciences withered away. Labs are no longer provisioned, old books are not replaced, the curriculum was watered down, certain classes aren't offered, opportunities for advanced students aren't publicized. In truth, the students with us, and by extrapolation likely a large portion of the other fair entrants, are exhibiting in spite of the degradation of science education in the City. One possible reason is that many of the science entrants came from countries where science is a viable option. They left for political or other collateral causes. With their prior appreciation of science, they just went ahead with their projects regardless of how their school welcomed them. The interest of the rank-&-file teacher is crucial here. I can see that a science teacher, 'taking the hint' from the school officials, will miss telling his students about the science fair. Maybe there is no fair? Oh, I heard it was cancelled this year? Teachers who are also judges tend to appreciate the fair, and other science opportunities like the Intel Science Talent Search. (This was before 1998 run under Westinghouse sponsorship.) They often borrow, beg, kite service and equipment on their own from outside sources to move their students along in these contests.
The last half-K ------------- From the City College station, we hoofed it the last half kilometer to the campus. Along the way I narrated the history of this hood, Hamilton Heights. I noted Shriver's Row, an elegant street of high- class townhouses. In my school days it was part of a reeking slum district. I recalled how we would jog or run along this street to lessen chances of being set upon by the natives. We stopped at Alexander Hamilton's house. Steve makes his students read about Hamilton prima mente to see the house Hamilton lived in during the Revolutionary period. (The house was some long time ago squared up with the present street grid.) It's open for visits by the National Park Service and is a stop on tours of Harlem. When I was in school it was dilapidated and vandalized by derelicts. I pointed out Steinman Hall, the engineering hall, where most of my classes were. This was the scene of demonstrations during the Vietnam conflict. Protestors smeared paint on its walls and pelted it with rocks and bricks. It's a good thing it has few windows! I showed them St Nicholas Terrace, the perimeter road on the crest of St Nicholas Park, a cliff. While at the College I was sternly warned to stay the hell off of that street. Hoodlums robbed students and tossed the victims off of the cliff. Brush and trees checked their fall but serious bruises and a couple broken bones were common. I pointed to classroom windows in Shepard Hall facing the park. From there I looked over into the Valley of the Harlem during the 1960surban riots. Fires sprouted every few blocks down there and a constant wail of police and fire sirens whiffed thru the trees. The kids noticed that the College is on a hilltop. To reach the College from any direction you have to climb this hill, like the one we just walked up. During the civil unrests, I and classmats were rained on by stones thrown by rioters form the roofs. I had to hide behind parked cars as shields as the rocks banged them up. Once on the campus, there was more peril. The campus is a linear one along Convent Avenue. The north half was mainly for the hard sciences, engineering, architecture. Students there were treated as puppets of the military-industrial complex to support McNamara's war in Vietnam. South campus, with 135th St as the green line, was the soft and non sciences grounds. The students there were pinkos, Maoists, Castroites, free-lovers (when there was still grassy field), hippies. There were rumbles between the two factions across the green line.
The nose of good luck ------------------- Kramer and I herded the kids into Shepard Hall, to their signup tables, made sure they were properly enrolled. The registration was in the Lincoln Hall, a long midway with side corridors, chandeliers, paintings of past College presidents, and some captured gargoyles. At one end is a head statue of Abraham Lincoln. It's tucked out of the way against a column and can be easily overlooked. I paused the students at this statue and told them, and Kramer, that for good luck in the Fair they had to rub Lincoln's nose. This was a custom when I was at City for luck on exams, term reports, game tryouts, other competitive events. The tradition was obviously still in force because the nose was burnished smooth and shiny while the rest of the statue was weathered. Each of the three kids ritually rubbed the nose. I wasn't sure if these new Americans took me seriously about the College or treated my stories as silly propaganda. What ever were their thoughts, we brang the kids to the exhibit floor, to their tables, and hurried off to the judge's reception across the street.
Chaos manor --------- It seems that the snowstorm of February 12th had a cascade or domino effect on the New York Academy of Sciences, the fair's sponsor. Paperwork from setting up the first show was lost or missing! Kramer's and my judge enrollment were not on the books! I showed my own correspondence about the fair. The receptionist booked me, and Kramer, but explained that she had no project assignments for us! No tickee, no showee. Please take breakfast and come back for the assignments. We had to eat anyway -- I skipped breakfast at home! -- so this suggestion was really quite welcome. In the dining room we and other judges wolfed down a hot buffet. I overheard convos at nearby tables: 'This fair is all loused up!'; 'I was left off of the enrollment books!'; 'I'm here to wait for assignments!' There was a mix of low grousing to loud complaint. Perhaps some of these people slogged thru the snow for the first round and were pissed off by a second snafu? While I was eating, Steve rushed in, grabbed a plate, and told me that his other kids finally showed up and he put them thru the registration. Now he learned that everything is screwed up with the judging. I calmed him down and we both went back for assignments. A laid-back gentleman at a laptop greeted us and asked for basic info. This was the same items we gave at the reception table, a few meters away. He noted that he didn't get anything from there so he's starting all over from scratch. I presented that I was called to judge engineering and physical science projects, these areas being my profession. No problem, dapper Dan said. He pecked at the laptop in search of qualifying projects. As each item came up on the screen, he wrote down and carefully pronounced its number. So far so good. He explained that the projects are grouped on the exhibit floor by category. Mine were in the 'cranberry' section. The table cloths are colored for each category. Steve got projects for his specialty. I forget the color they were in. I had now in hand a slate of ten projects, to be assessed in each of ten periods during the day. Not only was i given certain exhibits to visit, but also the hour to visit them at. Laptop pecker said the periods will be announced over the exhibit hall's PA. The roster sheet had spaces for alternatives, in case of no-shows. We asked about these. Laptop chap didn't allot any; he said we were all set to go. One thing I noticed about my and Steve's assignments. There seemed to be no record made of which judge has which projects! Laptop man just copied off screen data only onto our sheets, which we had with us. We mused about how the link of judges and projects will be done when we hand in our scores.
Orientation, Occidentation? ------------------------- Judges had to attend an orientation meeting in a nearby auditorium. Most of us were late due to the processing problems, but Steve and I caught most of the session. The entire show schedule was slipped later by an hour to compensate for the delay in preparing the judges. I found this orientation pretty useless. Nothing was explained about the project features to look for or the way to apply the judging criteria. Most of the blah-blah was vague and loose banter about the importance of being a judge and helping the science education. It's a good thing I read the printed material from the cancelled show and understood the general procedures from previous fairs. I heard rolling grumbling and griping. Some judges upped and left to start their rounds of the projects. Others sat back in obvious displeasure. With this over, in about a half hour, the remaining judges marched across the street to the exhibit floor.
Cranberry, where art thou? ------------------------ I with other judges trooped to the exhibit hall in Shepard Hall. Shepard was the main structure of the core campus of City College when it was opened in about 1903. It actually itself resembles an immense cathedral with bell towers, nave, transcept, buttresses, stained glass windows, chandeliers. It was completely renovated in early 2000s, with some punchlist work left to do. Now it is truly one of the most fetchingly gorgeous collegiate edifices I ever saw. A similar refreshing is taking place in the other core buildings on Convent Avenue: Baskerville, Compton, Geothals, Harris, Wingate. In a couple years City College's core campus could realisticly compete for America's most beautiful college campus. The exhibit floor is in Shepard's Great Hall. Except for the lack of pews and altar, it could pass as a multidenominational church. Today the floor was filled with lunch tables in rows and tiers. The students placed their exhibit displays on these tables according to a location assigned to them in the registration. From the materials I had from the cancelled show and discussion with other science folk before this fair, it seems that there were only 700 or so entrants. This is a deep cut from the 1,000 and more in past years. Every one fit into Great Hall this year with no need for overflow rooms. I struck out for the 'cranberry' cloth on the exhibit tables. I did see a rasberry cloth, a plum-peach one, ones for lavender, maroon, strawberry, watermelon, but not what I would call cranberry. I asked a fair staff, a floater wearing red jackets with 'Fair staff' on the back. He pulled out a chart, ran his finger over it, and motioned that I follow him. He took me to a couple rows of tables that he declared were cranberry. i just took his word for it.
Good behavior, no physics ----------------------- I took a breather and sorted out my papers. The kit came with ten score cards, one for each project. On these I wrote the project number, taken directly from the assignment sheet. There was a space for the judge's number. There was no number from the on-the-spot processing of judges. I wrote in my name. The card had sections for the various judging criteria, which I was already versed in from studying the instructions from the cancelled show. With all in readiness, I stepped up to the first exhibit. The exhibits had nice large numbers signs, making it easy to spot them from a distance without having to crawl the tables. I designed to let the student go thru a spiel about the project. Then i would ask a few clarifying questions, examine the display, and thank him. That would, I guessed, take about twenty minutes. The rest of each period would be for marking the score card and a bit of rest. First up was a project about high school achievement as a function of sibling birth order. Oh? This had nothing to do with engineering or physics! What to do? I could go back to the mustering hall and complain. That would take at least a half hour, being that it takes a traverse of a couple hundred meters across the street, and then return, and for what end result? The assignments were scrambled already; could they be so neatly rectified? I abandoned all hope. What the hell? This was a project within the scope of a reasonable person to assess. I went thru my routine, greeted the student, and asked about her project. There are certain features of the exhibit that I had to check for. There must be no identity, like school or student name, on the display. Only text, pictures, and other flat material may be on the display, no solid models, apparatus, or demonstration is allowed, sample data and conclusions must be clearly shown, no medical or physical abuse of vertebrate animals, and so on. All of the projects I examined passed this preliminary process. The student explained how she surveyed her classmates and their siblings, arranged them in order of birth within a family, and checked their school grades. She did find a correlation in that the earlier siblings tend to do better in school because their parents took more care with them. The later ones made do more on their own. My questions related to the age spread of the siblings and the parental function. Some families are run by single parents, relatives, extended households. She answered my questions quite expertly and noted some factors she had too little data or time to explore properly. She noted that some surveys she didn't use for having complications, like a sibling with continual-care medical problems. Her display was neatly lettered -- virtually every one now uses computer wordproc with no more grotesque stencil or letter tracings -- with clear graphs and text. I felt her conclusions derived from her input data and she did try hard to make the proper analysis. So when I thanked her, i had a good feeling for this project. I reflected it in her score card.
Periods, shmeriods ---------------- The barker did call out the periods to keep the judging on schedule. The periods were 25 minutes long, allowing sufficient time to visit an exhibit, mark the score card, and rest for the next period. This scheme, while it helped me to mind the hour, collapsed for the judging. What quickly happened was that judges finished one visit and scoring, then set off for the next visit. They did not wait for the end of the instant period. It took me generally twenty minutes to judge an exhibit; then I moved on to my next one. If the next project was already occupied by an other judge, I came back to it later. Of course, the period I listened up for was the call for lunch. I actually finished most of my projects before lunch and all of them by mid afternoon. The breakdown of the period scheme allowed that some projects were judged more than the proper three or four times. I guess some judges made a cursory visit, leaving the bulk of the period free for an other judge to come along for a visit. Multiply this effect over the day, a project could plausibly be inspected for as many as, I heard, 10 or 11 times. By lunch time I discovered that the project numbers on my roster were not a uniform set over the whole floor! They were a sequence within each category!! Where I wrote '29' on my card, it really meant '29-cranberry'. By good fortune I did write in a brief title for each project as advised in the printed instructions. Many other judges passed up this item as being optional. I have no idea how their cards were matched with projects after they were handed in! The students were sent into an other room for box lunches while we judges trooped across the street to the dining hall. Lunch was a mix of sandwiches and pastries, quite hearty and much needed.
The other projects ---------------- It turned out that I was given exhibits in 'behavioral sciences', with none at all for the physical science (including earth and space) or engineering. I will perhaps never learn if this was a cockup in the list given to me or color-mismatch of table cloths, or wrong directions from the fair agent on the floor. It didn't by now matter. I list my other projects here with a brief description. I completely forget the actual order I visited them in; they are listed alphabeticly by my own brief, tho not official, title.
ALCOHOL & RAT BRAIN NEUROSYNTHESIS - Laboratory rats were first placed in a box with two toys. Then they were given food laced with ethanol. They were then put back in the box with only one of the toys. The rat looked for the missing toy because he remembered it. Memory is induced by neurons. The extent of this search was an index of neurosynthesis. The application for humans is that drunk people lose memory from lack of neuron production.
BODY SELF-IMAGE & SOCIAL STATUS - By survey and actual measurement classmates were grouped by physical body attributes and self-image about their bodies. They were asked about social status, like 'dating' and staying 'single'. (The subjects were high school kids!) The data showed that students who felt poorly about their bodies had worse social status than those who had good feelings (thought, opinion) about their bodies. Obesity was a major body factor with strong correlation while height was not.
COLOR-TINTED VISION & BLOOD PRESSURE - The idea was that hot colors raise blood pressure, cool ones lower it, neutral ones have no change. Subjects were placed in a room to view it thru goggles with color filters over the lenses. After several minutes their blood pressure was measured. The hypothesis was false because both hot and cool colors lowered blood pressure. The filters were made from the gels of stage lighting in the school's theater.
[a certain biometry] & AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR - For reasons of national security I may not elaborate on the specific biometry. The subjects were measured on this biometric parameter and their behavior was taken from school discipline or police records. The correlation was quite tight! The student proposes that it could be a possible adjunct for visual screening of people at, say, airports. After i got home I did my own tests. I measured photographs of people whose aggressive character was well documented. The effing hypothesis works!
LIRR COACH SEATS & RIDER COMFORT - This is the closest project to engineering, biometric engineering at least. The team rode the Long Island Rail Road and watched riders and empty seats. Avoidance of the middle of a three-across seat was specially strong for the LIRR's M1 and M7 coaches. Unless the car got really crowded people prefer to stand rather than take an empty middle seat flanked by sitting riders. People were unwilling to ask, by way of a control test by the student team, a rider to clear a middle set of a shoulder bag so he could sit there. The M7 car has mostly two-across seats to make wider aisles, but has end sections with three-across seats.
NATIONAL ECONOMIC STATUS & SUICIDE RATE - This was an extra project to make up for a no-shoe, as explained below. The student collected World Health Organization and national data from 97 countries for various economic indices and personal suicide rate. The more affluent countries, for individuals, had higher suicides than poorer countries. The student was careful to consider wealth concentration, like in a ruling sector of society, from that dispersed among the citizens. He also recognized that national data could be fudged to present a better image of the country.
PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT & ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT - The student collected attendance records for PTA, parent day, report card meetings and the school grades of classmates. In general, when the parent (or other caretaker) interacted with the school, the pupil did better. Factors such as parent work schedules, parent education level, single- parent homes, other siblings to care for, were considered but the correlation was quite strong.
RELIGIOUS DEVOTION & ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT - The student collected data from friends in several public schools for religious devotion. She left out schools run by a particular religion or that had a religion-like theme. Many religions were considered for adherence to feasts and fasts, church or similar services, self-prayer or ritual, dress or custom, The student found little trend for religious devotion and school grades, with a bad scatter across all levels of religious activity.
And there was one more, a substitute for a no-show, but I just can not recall it.
Out of the dark ------------- Great Hall was lighted by copious sunlight thru its tall wide windows. The chandeliers in daylight gave only a mood or accent of light with little additional illumination on the floor. Yet there were dark patches here and there among the exhibits. The display boards at times blocked the daylight, making it hard to see certain parts of them. I lived with this impediment for the first two exhibits, then was hit by a flash of thought. In my shoulder bag I carry a pocket torch, to better read signs at night or navigate thru darker sections of street. I grabbed it out. Its narrow bright beam lighted the boards nicely for comfortable viewing of smaller details of graphs and pictures. The unit runs off of two AA batteries and weighs only a hundredish grams. Other judges in my vicinity stopped to see it and may get one for their own handiness.
No-shows ------ Two of my projects were no-shows. The exhibit was set up by classmates but the project's student didn't attend to it. These I had to pass over for lack of interaction with the student. For my ten projects, I had two no-shows. As I looked around during the rests, I noticed what seemed to be a high level of no-shows thruout Great Hall. It looked like a full ten percent of the exhibits were unattended! When the judges got together for lunch, almost every one i spoke with suffered no-shows! With no clear instructions for handling them, some judges did a blind assessment of just the display. Others asked adjacent students to explain the exhibit[! Others skipped them. The plan for assigning projects included alternates in case of no- shows. In the judging situation to hand, this provision was pretty much neglected. I, and Steve, by the way we got our roster of exhibits, were offered no alternates. It seems that students specially prepared for the first show by deferring holidays or travels. This rescheduled show probably conflicted with them, preventing the student's participation this time. There were no-shoes of judges! I know only a few judges and missed seeing certain ones of them. I just assumed that I missed them on the floor. Over lunch and after the judging I heard judges noting that Ms/Prof/Mr/Dr So-&-so didn't show up today. This no-show factor was a further complication in matching judges and projects. The student no-shows likely could not be anticipated because the students registered on arrival at the show. The judges, being generally adult in deportment, called in their absence days in advance. The fair crew had to redistribute projects across a smaller pool of judges. Could it be that I was given the behavioral science exhibits for lack of sufficient judges in that field?
Too many, too few --------------- I could not know this on the floor, but during lunch and after the show I heard plenty. With the chaotic manner of lining up projects and judges, there was a breakdown in the frequency of judging for a given project. The student instructions stated that a project will be judged three or four times during the day. The actual hour for each visit was not given, so the student had to stay near his display for the entire day. Only the lunch break relieved him. In previous years there was one visit, by a team of judges, after which the student could knock down his display and go home. The uncertainty of the visits made for raucous gaggles of students laying or sitting in open parts of the floor. Some chatted with friends, played handheld video games, read books, played word or hand games with each other. Until a judge tapped them to attention, the students were bored giddy and silly. The casual way -- dapper Dan at his laptop -- the projects were doled out resulted in utter imbalance between the frequency of judging a given project. One of Steve's kids was not judged at all until late in the day, and then only after he personally intervened to get a judge. Other projects were judged ten, eleven, or twelve times! In the afternoon, after the lunch break, things were desperate. The barker continually called for judges in this or that field to please take a few more projects. None were asked for engineering or physical sciences, so I didn't answer these calls.
Left over projects ---------------- By the late afternoon, there were lots of projects with fewer than three assessments, many with none at all. Being that I had two no- shows, I volunteered for makeup assignments. There were none needed in my field. With my work finished I wandered around to take in the other exhibits. I was still wearing my judge's badge. On two occasions, a fair agent nailed me about taking an other project. Are you free for a while? Can you do this project here? Thanks! I volunteered. One I just can not recall; the other was the one about suicide rates. I don't know what category they were in. They were many tables away from the 'cranberry' projects. In all, I judged ten projects, eight from the initial roster and two makeups.
Abuse and hostility ----------------- I heard in past years stories of hostile and abusive judges but I let them pass thru the ears. I never directly experienced any such person. At this fair I encountered a real nasty judge. At an exhibit a couple tables away, but in a voice loud enough for all to hear, one male judge was trashing out a student big time. The displays on the table are a little too tall to look over. I had no sightline to this guy. His verbal comments were enough. This guy was accusing the student of copying the data from a professional source and not doing the work for himself. The student tried to explain that he did collect his own numbers. The judge disputed him as a faker. He then walked away claiming he's going to give the kid a low grade for trying to fudge up a project! For the projects I myself inspected there were instances of data from both the student and an outside source. Usually this was the source inspiring the student to do the project or one who assisted the student. The two sets were in my cases clearly separate. The student used different tables, charts, colors, symbols to tell them apart. Over lunch and after-show snack I heard from other judges of nasty ones on the floor. The stories were rather similar. It could be they all were talking about the same guy! Yet there were enough variations to suggest that we had several bad apples in the barrel.
Finishing up ---------- Having done all of my visits, I went to the judge's room to hand in my cards. There was one assessment the written instructions made prominent mention of. In addition to the individual scores we were to order the projects from 'best' to 'worse' in overall value to science. With the disconbobulations in the judging I just didn't get around to doing this relative ranking. I asked at the reception table if I should spend the extra minutes to do so. Apparently the desk agent so glad that I handed in anything she waved me off. I handed her the cards in whatever order they happened to be after all the shuffling around during my rounds. I just hope the Academy doesn't think I put the 'best' one on top with the others ranking down to 'worse' at the bottom! Some other judges noted the same treatment for their cards. They hoped maybe the Academy will arrange the cards in order of individual grades, altho this was not the way the instructions wanted it. Even if this method was dutifully followed, it would only order the particular projects of a particular judge. There would be no consideration of the other judges's projects. In deed, a judge never knew who the other judges were, having gotten their assignments as independent persons. Making matters worse is that this ranking procedure hangs from an organized assignment of projects to judges. At least judges for physical sciences can rank exhibits in physical sciences among themselfs. With the wholesale scramble of assignments today, plus the capricious treatment of makeup projects for no-shows, I hazard that the overall rating part of the judging just has to be cut loose.
Heros of the show --------------- In spite of the foulup in the judging process and the punctuation of the boors, the real heros of the show were the students. Recall that they were here from a billoxed first attempt two weeks ago. Some may have toughed it out in the storm to find the show called off. Some took advantage of the extra two weeks to refine their project. For the exhibits I visited, every single student, whether a solo or a team, knew the project and obviously put a lot of work into it. Their display panels were neat, clearly worded, Their graphs did vary a bit in clarity, most being plotted by computer with little control over typographic features. The students answered all of my questions calmly, with detail, offering understanding and knowledge of the project. None tried to bluff or BS me, hide defects, make excuses. If they didn't know or consider some item, they admitted it and offered to look into it for a follow up project, college work, or career.
Academy and fair crew ------------------- Given the chaos of the day, which grew gradually worse hour after hour, I have to give excellent grades to the crew of the fair. Regardless of how mixed up their efforts were, each and every person from the Fair whom I worked with was thoroly polite, courteous, well- meaning, helpful. Not a one was rude, gruff, abrupt, or in any way offensive. They did their instant chore, even if later it turned out to be wrong. I did chat after the show with an Academy staff who works with its website. I noted that I refer to the website for items to include in my 'NYC Events' column. She asked for a copy, which later in the week I emailed to her. I included a flyer about NYSkies, too.
Home stretch ---------- I lost track of Steve and Mr Kramer during the day. I hung around looking for them with no luck. By 4:30PM, after taking a final munch of the snacks, I left for home. I arrived home under the same illumination in evening twilight as I started from under morning twilight! Later in the week I spoke with Steve. He was still doing projects at the Fair until 5:30PM! By late afternoon judges had enough of the day and left, leaving a depleted pool to continue the judging. When he turned in his cards, there were only a couple Academy crew remaining in the judge's room. They, like for me, just put his cards in an envelope and thanked him. He let some of his students go home on their own and escorted the rest of them back to Brooklyn.