John Pazmino
 NYSkies Astronomy Inc
 2007 April 4 
    The 2007 NYC Science and Engineering Fair took place over a 
spread of weeks, starting in early January and finishing in early 
March. Besides the extended run, compared to the single day run of 
previous years, there were many changes in other aspects of the fair. 
    The theme was the same, to highlight the talents of New York high 
school students in the sciences, engineering, technology, medicine, 
biology. Students prepared displays for exhibit and judging, out of 
which winners were selected to compete in the national rounds of 
    The fair is run by the New York Academy of Sciences, with support 
from corporations and the NYC Department of Education. The Academy in 
September 2006 shifted into its new offices, explained below, in 7 
World Trade Center near Ground Zero. The Department of Education is 
the successor to the former Board of Education and is now more 
directly under supervision of the mayor. 
    In previous years, I and other judges were asked to inspect and 
score the project displays which were exhibited on a particular day. 
For the years of my own participation, the fair was held at the Great 
Hall of the City College of New York, Hamilton Heights, Manhattan.. 
New procedures
    If you followed the New York City Science & Engineering fair in my 
prior commentaries, you noticed that each year had its own peculiar 
procedures for the students and judges. I was a judge in 2003, 2004, 
and 2006. I missed the 2005 fair due to an illness in my family.
    This year's fair had the most drasticly altered processing for the 
students and judges. There were four levels of participation for 
judges, not just one. By chatting with other judges and people close 
to the fair I heard various names for these levels. I'll call them 
'level 0' thru 'level 3' here. 
    To enter the fair a student submits an application, a monster form 
of dozens of pages and supplemental documents. Until this year, these 
were evaluated by the Academy. This evaluation was a qualifying 
process to make sure the applications were complete and compliant.  
    For the first time in my experience, the Academy this year turned 
over this evaluation process to the judges, jointly with internal 
crew. I, for conflict of business, passed up this step, Level 0. The 
evaluation was done at the Academy offices in early January for about 
1,000 entries. 
    Level 0 was a several-day session in the first week of January. A 
judge attended any one or more of the days as his time permitted. One 
day was lost for being the national day of mourning for late president 
Gerald Ford. This ws on January 2nd. 
    The judges reviewed the applications, graded them by the Academy's 
regulations, and assigned a qualifying grade to them. Lunch was taken 
on site, the Academy's new offices. 
    I later learned that 700 or so were qualified to continue to Level 
1, with some 300 entries dismissed for various deficiencies. 
Level 1 judging
    My own involvement in the 2007 fair began at Level 1. The Academy 
mailed to the judges a set of written reports of the projects, as 
submitted by their authors as part of the application. I received in 
late January 14 reports in the categories of engineering and earth 
science. With this set were instructions for scoring the reports and 
scoring sheets to be filled out and returned to the Academy by 
February 9th. There was an initial deadline of February 2nd but the 
mailing of reports was delayed and the deadline was extended one week. 
    These instructions were reasonably complete and detailed, The 
report score was the sum of scores in five features, as assessed from 
the written instrument itself. I had to rate the report for 
'creativity', 'scientific thought', 'thoroughness' [thusly spelled], 
'skill', and 'clarity'. 
    The judges worked on their reports off-site, there being no 
special session at the Academy. I did mine at home over several 
evenings. Each project had its own scoring sheet in which I entered 
the score for each of the five features and the consolidated score. 
The instructions were clear enough to do this with confidence and 
Conflict of interest 
    One instruction admonished about conflict of interest. Because a 
judge was engaged for his expertise in science, it can happen that the 
judge was a mentor or resource for a science project. This situation 
could be common for specialized projects, where only a few scientists 
were skilled enough to assist the student and later were called to 
duty as judges. The judge must set aside any report belonging to a 
project he had dealings with, such as if it was performed in his lab 
or he furnished specimina or tools. 
    I had one such report. The student for that project discussed it 
with me and obtained certain information and maps for it. I called 
this to the Academy's attention. It advised me to note the conflict on 
the project's scoring sheet. This report was, I suppose, assigned to 
some other judge. 
    In years past the entire judging was done only on the very 
displays put up at the exhibition. Separate written material, even 
handouts at the exhibit, were not considered. In fact, the application 
allowed a written report as an option. It was not at all needed to 
qualify the entry. 
    Such was the case this year, according to the application. The 
entry requirements were the same as in prior years, with many entries 
submitting NO written report. Furthermore, there was no word to the 
students that their initial level of judging was based ONLY on such 
reports! The exhibition was a later stage of the competition. 
    Result: many students were passed over in level 1 and, therefore, 
dropped out of competition. For lack of a project report, There was 
nothing in a judge's hand to score! 
    I don't know what portion of applications missed out the written 
report. I sensed from overhearing discussions among teachers and 
parents that it was some significant fraction. 
    An other problem was that the reports were of drasticly varied 
quality. Some were only a couple pages with a weak description of the 
project. Others seemed to be drafts with typos, misspells, grammar 
flubs. Some were written in a disciplined manner resembling articles 
in a science journal. With no requirement for a report, there was no 
specification for its form or content. 
    Result: I had to assign a low score to reports too weak to assess 
the five features! Some reports were good in certain features and then 
lousy in others. And there were a few, the 'journal articles', that 
had enough meat to do a honest assessment. 
    I was almost done with my scoring on the deadline, February 9th, 
Friday. I alerted the Academy that I will finish the scoring over the 
coming weekend. I mailed back all the score sheets on Monday the 12th. 
Two exhibitions 
    There were TWO exhibitions this year, one on Tuesday evening, 
March 6th, and in morning of Wednesday 7 March. The former was a 
noncompetitive display of all the qualifying projects from Level 0. 
There were abut 700 of these, deployed over three floors of 7WTC. 
    No judging took place here. Judges were urged to attend to peruse 
the projects and acquaint themselfs with the building. We could speak 
with the students but not in any way spill word about the quality of 
the project. Specially, we were not to let on that a project was one 
of those we would judge on Wednesday.  
    The 250 or so projects making it thru Level 1 were honored with 
small yellow flags. These would on the next day be the only ones 
remaining on display. 
    This exhibit was very late before the show called a public 
exhibit, but there was hardly any outside reference to it beyond those 
associated with the fair. 
    On Wednesday the 7th only the projects passing Level 1 judging 
were on exhibit. These, about 250, were consolidated to the 44th floor 
and their yellow flags were removed. This was level 2 judging session, 
the closest counterpart to the one day of judging in previous years. 
    I discuss these two exhibitions in detail later. 
Level 2 preparation 
    Level 2 judging was part of the exhibition phase of this year's 
fair. Projects passing Level 1 were on show on Wednesday, March 7th, 
about 250 in all. This was the time the students met with the judges. 
    In preparation for the Level 2 judging, the Academy in early March 
sent to the judges a second set of reports from among those passing 
Level 1. I got ten such reports and saw several that I already 
reviewed in Level 1. I called the Academy to ask about possible 
conflict of interest.
    There is no real conflict of interest. From Level 1 the number of 
reports was thinned to about 250. A specific judge could likely now 
get back some of his own Level 1 reports. 
    There was no scoring of this second set. The reports gave the 
judge a background for discussing the project at the exhibition. That 
is, when I showed up for the exhibit on the 7th of March, I already 
knew about the projects I was going to judge. The display itself was a 
minor factor in this year's fair. 
Level 2 judging 
    I arrived at 7WTC bright and early on Wednesday 7 March for the 
judging session of level 2. In this exhibition, only the 250 projects 
passing Level 1, with the yellow flags on their displays on Tuesday 
evening, remained on show. They were collected to one floor, the 44th. 
    We first reported to the Academy offices on the 40th floor for a 
breakfast and briefing. The judges got their project assignments, 
along with a reminder that they could refer to the corresponding 
reports they should have for them.
    Most judges left their set of reports home, there being no word to 
bring them. I, too, left my set at home. Off hand I didn't know if my 
assigned projects were identicly the same as those of my reports. I 
just accepted the new list. 
    Each project had a scoring sheet identical to that for Level 1. 
Same five features, same criteria within each. The instructions were 
also the same. This made things a lot simpler for me. 
    I tanked up with breakfast, then went to the exhibit. 
    The display of projects was similar to that of prior years. Rows 
of tables were deployed, covered with colored cloths, with the project 
boards set on them. Each project had a clear large sign for its entry 
number. The cloth color indicated the category of project mounted on 
it. Engineering was a kind of dark red; earth science, dirt brown. 
    In addition to the tablecloth colors, 'street signs' at the ends 
of the rows indicated the categories in that row. There were several 
pylons with arrow signs, like those at road junctions, for the 
categories. Even with these aids, I had to query the Academy staff for 
several of my projects. 
    The judging was divided into periods of about 15 minutes, barked 
out by loudspeaker. I don't think any judge adhaered to this schedule. 
I didn't. I moved from project to project as I found them on the 
tables. I skipped those already busy with a judge and came back to 
them later. I spent as much time as I felt needed to inspect, 
understand, and discuss the project with the student. This varied from 
about ten minutes to twenty minutes. 
    Each project was assigned to several different judges, each to be 
assessed during a different period. This detail was missing from the 
briefing. The judges learned about it on their own when they found a 
project occupied by an other judge. In the end, things worked out, but 
just not in strict accordance with the Academy's scheme. 
    The use of several judges for a given project was crucial for the 
Level 3 judging, altho we didn't realize it during our rounds now. In 
Level 3, first explained when we returned to the Academy offices for 
lunch, we would debate the projects based on our separate inspections. 
    I had one no-show, which let me finish early. I handed in my score 
sheets and went back to the Academy office for lunch and Level 3 
    The display boards were totally inconsistent in layout and 
content. I heard that there were no specifications this year for 
making the display boards. In previous years, boards were built to 
definite instructions, against which they were scored. 
    I found boards with only sketchy text and illustrations, missing 
features, and more varied size and shape. The dominant shape was the 
triglyph with the center panel larger than the two outer ones. I saw 
boards with equal size panels, a head piece spanning the outer panels, 
or crown atop the central panel. 
    The usual display was about a meter tall, which on the table 
elevated the top edge to a little above eye-level. The displays with a 
crown piece stood a meter and half above the table, a bit beyond arm's 
reach of the student trying to point out some item on it. 
    Lettering and illustrations varied radicly from clear, plain, 
large to almost illegible. In some cases there seemed to be no 
organization of the material on the board with items were pasted here 
and there. The student threaded me thru them in his explanation. 
    An other problem was that the students seemed to have no 
preparation for interacting with the judges. Some tried to recite 
their reports. Others invited me to go and read the display. Others 
gave rambling spiels about their project with no focus. I had to 
interject with questions, based on my recollection of their reports or 
on what I noticed on their boards. 
    It was quickly obvious that I could not assign scores based on the 
very displays. I went with what I remembered from their reports and 
from the instant dialog with the student. 
Level 3 judging
    We handed in our score sheets to Academy crew on the exhibit floor 
before heading for lunch. While we were taking lunch, the Academy 
massaged the sheets into composite scores and a final ranking of 
projects in each category 
    For lunch we had open seating in the Academy's lunch room. We 
bantered about the fair, our projects, science education. After lunch, 
we rearranged our tables into groups by category for the final, Level 
3, judging. 
    If a judge worked two categories, he shared time at the tables for 
each. It turned out that there were several judges who had both earth 
science and engineering, like me. We combined these categories at one 
table for us. 
    We were given a tabulation of the top ranking projects in each 
category. These were the 75 highest scoring projects from Level 2 of 
the instant morning. From these we had to select, by discussing among 
ourselfs, the two or three that will be sent to the national science 
contest as representatives of New York City. I noticed that all of the 
projects which I scored highly made it into this tabulation. 
    We debated each project, offering comments from our inspection of 
it. Most choices were unanimous, others we went by consensus or a 
tossup. The entire deliberation lasted about a half hour. We handed in 
our final selection and were released from duty. I went to work to 
finish up the day. 
New location 
    Since the 2006 fair, the fair operator, New York Academy of 
Sciences, shifted into new offices at 7 World Trade Center. It sold 
its old home on 63rd St near 5th Av and took the 40th floor in 7WTC. 
    7WTC is the first of the rebuilt towers in World Trade Center, 
replacing the old 7WTC that collapsed from massive fire damage in the 
afternoon of 11 September 2001. The tower was not directly struck by 
the airplanes, but was totaled by debris-induced conflagrations. 
    The late 7WTC was 'the Pup' from its diminutive size compared to 
the Twin Towers, It stood just off of Ground Zero at Vesey St and 
Greenwich St. It is reconstructed on the same plot, reconfigured and a 
little taller. It regained its 'Pup' name because it will still be 
small against the other towers to be built within Ground Zero. 
    7WTC opened for business in spring 2006. Tenants are moving in 
steadily, with the Academy arriving in mid September 2006. As at March 
2007, there is ample remaining space in the tower for future tenants. 
    For unspecified reasons, this year's fair was held at 7WTC on 
floors not yet rented or built out. The Academy's own floor has no 
large space for the exhibition, but was used for small gatherings of 
crew and judges. The raw space was either donated by or rented at low 
cost to the Academy by the tower's developer Larry Silverstein. 
He has the development rights for the rest of World Trade Center, 
including its signature structure, the 541-meter Freedom Tower. 
Ground Zero
    The campus of World Trade Center was utterly and completely 
oblitterated in the 2001 attack. The remains of the structures were 
removed and the area was excavated to bedrock and perimeter walls.  
Except for isolated relics, like the flooring and swing doors leading 
to the IND Chambers St station, nothing is left from the late World 
Trade Center. The campus is still called Ground Zero. 
    7WTC replaces in the whole, with updates and modifications, the 
late 7WTC and is the only commercial structure of the revived World 
Trade Center. From its south-facing windows, an aerial prospect is 
offered of Ground Zero. 
    The fair's two exhibits were on March 6th, Tuesday evening, and on 
March 7th, Wednesday morning. During the fair I took time to inspect 
and photograph Ground Zero from the windows facing it. The site is far 
more a major construction pit, with machines, crew, huts, materials, 
vehicles, scattered thruout it. Some residual fixtures from the 
initial rescue operations are still in place, notably the ramp for 
trucks to descend to the pit from near Liberty St and West St. 
    One feature some attendees of the fair inquired about was a 
sinuous railroad looping into and out of the west perimeter wall. This 
is the temporary Hudson Tubes, or PATH, station. The late station was 
squashed flat and was rebuilt essentially in its former layout. The 
snaking path of the tracks was necessary to circulate the trains 
around the original Twin Towers. The station is now reached from the 
street by a temporary pavilion on Church St and Fulton St. 
    On March 6th I purposefully arrived before sunset for my first 
look. First thing after leaving the elevator at the exhibit floor, I 
skipped to the windows to photograph Ground Zero in the last half hour 
before sunset. After sunset, Ground Zero filled in rapidly with 
darkness. Floodlights offered only feeble puddles of light here and 
    If you have business at the New York Academy of Sciences, please 
ask to view out of its south windows for your own look at Ground Zero. 
For the next several years, this may the easiest and simplest way to 
follow the progress of rebuilding World Trade Center. 
    Ground Zero and the events that created it still have deep 
emotional wounds in many people. I personally know friends who avoid 
Lower Manhattan, refusing to pass thru or into that district, even if 
Ground Zero is hidden from direct sight. New York Academy of Sciences 
plausibly had to consider this fact in its move to 7WTC. 
    It happened to snow during Tuesday night, well after the exhibit 
closing hour. On Wednesday the 7th the scene was whitened over in a 
thin accumulation of snow. This snow had no serious affect on travel to 
the fair. Transit operated normally. Streets were mostly cleared for 
the morning rush hour. 
7 World Trade Center 
    Being a new office tower, 7WTC is built under the City's current 
green ethic. It is advertised to include the best principles of energy 
conservation and efficiency and of recyclable materials. A decal on 
the building's entry doors proclaims that the tower earned the first 
green building award of the US Green Building Council. 
    During my visit on the two exhibition days, I saw four floors. 
40th was the offices of the Academy, still smelling new from the 
recent relocation here from 63rd St. The 44th, 45th, and 46th floors 
were exhibit space for the fair. They were raw unimproved floors, 
available for future tenants. 
    The general floor layout reminded me of the late Twin Towers, 
where the floors are column-free surrounding a central core. The 
exterior walls are a curtain of floor-to-ceiling windows with narrow 
frames between the panels. A waist-high handrail along the windows 
lessens the chance of accidental push-out of the panels. 
    To circulate between the exhibit floors, most visitors took the 
stairs. The stairs are wide, brightly lighted, and surrounded by 
substantial walls. However, the handrails were covered with a plastic 
grip with sharp edges. It repeatedly snagged my fingers. 
    The stair wells had fire hoses on each floor. These are the 
traditional folded hose on a rack, like the ones of early 20th century 
comedy movies. The hose length seemed altogether too short for 
effective fire fighting any distance away from the stairs. 
    I can accept that there is some regulation to have these 
appliances. However, the NYC Fire Department will not touch them. It 
will bring its own hoses and connect them to the standpipes, for fear 
that the furnished hoses are rotten or damaged. 
    With the exhibits floors being empty spaces, there were none of 
the usual amenities of a modern office tower. There was no general 
lighting. Construction and flood lamps were strung along the walls. 
These were so irregularly placed and erraticly lighted that many parts 
of the floors were in darkness. This darkness was aggravated by 
shadows cast by the project displays. 
    Shadows were specially harsh on Tuesday night, there then being no 
tempering from natural daylight. An other source of shadow was the 
people, who as they approached and reproached low-mounted lamps. Their 
shadows loomed and shrank in a most grotesque manner. The little 
pocket torch I carry prima mente for dark sidewalks and doors came in 
very handy at this fair! Other visitors marveled at the idea to have 
one with them when they saw me light up a darkened display board. 
    There was no acclimatization on these floors, their being no ducts 
or other apparatus for this service. There were localized blowers that 
seemed to blow air far too cold for artificial chilling. Were they 
moving outdoor winter air? This cold current was overly strong in the 
couple meters under or near the blower. It was strong enough that 
displays in its path were buffeted. and, in at least one case, 
    Heating was provided by floor vents under the perimeter windows. 
They were running at a high level, enough to make sitting on them 
annoying after a minute or two. The warm air from the heaters rose 
straight up, against the cold window panels, and quickly cooled. They 
had no noticeable warming effect more than a meter or so in from the 
    For a structure as part of the new World Trade Center, the welcome 
offered by the lobby of 7WTC simply fails dismally. It resembles a 
theater lobby with no furniture, a long bland concierge counter, 
security turnstiles at the right and left ends, disco lighting in some 
parts, and a really crazy wall of inspiring sayings. 
    The outdoor streets were wet from old snow and ice and the air was 
of winter temperature. The lobby had puddles of water from people 
tracking in ice. Rain mats were set out, but they quickly packed up 
with water and snow. 
    Above the concierge counter was an scrolling message to inspire 
tenants and visitors to a higher level of existence. Here's something 
of what the message said: 
'... in Greece where my cat was still sleeping but my shoes were 
hurting me right at sunrise in the trees of the forest so my 
sister took me to the horses to get relief and meaning to the words 
spoken at the docks but it never rained there with the barrel next to 
me and then came a man who had a large envelope he gave to me to open 
from him telling me not to peek inside because the words were not of 
my kind rather they belonged to the queen ...' 
    You have to be pretty damn near bottom for this inspiration to 
take on you. Could such a person really be the kind of tenant for the 
World Trade Center? 
    This thing rolled on and on with no letup. Thankfully for the 
lobby agents, this sign was above and behind them at the concierge 
desk. It was in plain sight from the street, the letters being a full 
meter in height. 
    The lobby front doors let in blasts of cold air when they opened, 
there being no vestibule or 'air lock'. Leaks around the revolving 
doors also let in cold drafts. 
Structural plan 
    An other reminder of the late Twin Towers was the superficial 
resemblance of the steelwork. From the central core, beams extended 
across 15 or so meters of ceiling and attached to the vertical columns 
in the perimeter wall. This left the floor with a column-free area, 
like the Twin Towers. The ceiling itself was the rough underside of 
the floor above it. No ducts, pipes, cables yet populated the ceiling 
and there was no drop ceiling. 
    My attention was grabbed by the covering on the beams and columns. 
It was a sprayed-on insulation that easily broke off under light 
pressure. During the show I noticed a small buildup of flakes and 
chunks of this insulation at the base of columns. Apparently the kids 
found it fun to pick at. 
    The steel frames supporting the window panels were not at all 
thermally helpful. They were ice-cold to the touch from communicating 
directly with the frigid outside air. 
    The tower during both of my visits quivered, shuddered, rumbled, 
vibrated continuously. This is a normal behavior of tall buildings on 
Manhattan. In fact, such towers are built as if they are in a constant 
earthquake of magnitude 3. There were quiet spells but soonest I 
realized things were calm, the floor took up its wiggling again. This 
was not something I had to carefully sense, like by standing still 
with eyes closed. It was gross under the feet, like the sidewalk near 
a subway or heavy traffic. The shaking was enough to wiggle the 
bottoms and ends of table clothes. 
    Due to the skewed street layout, 7WTC is a parallelogram building. 
There are few right angles in the floor plan! This left substantial 
dead space in the perimeter corners and forced the display tables to 
be set up in odd-angled rows. In the Academy offices the furniture and 
fixtures were irregularly deployed on the floor to accommodate the 
    7WTC has a system of elevator I hadn't seen before. I read about 
them as a newer way to constrain against free ranging by visitors. 
When I arrived at 7WTC there was an Academy registration counter in 
the lobby, reached by passing thru security turnstiles of the sort 
increasingly common in office towers. They resemble subway turnstiles, 
activated with a badge or pass issued by the employer. 
    With no such pass or badge I went thru the stile, pushing the arms 
gently. They parted for me but also silently alerted a security agent. 
He let me go after I explained about the science fair. 
    At the desk I got a badge, totebag, and flyers. The fair agent 
instructed me, and others, to go to the 44th floor. I walked over to 
the elevators, saw one waiting to load, and boarded it. The doors 
closed. I looked for the button panel. 
    There was no panel of floor buttons! Only bare mirrored walls and 
a loud speaker grill. Then the doors opened and a couple more people 
boarded. I asked where the floor buttons are. 
    In this building there are NO floor buttons inside the elevator 
cabs! On the floor, where you would find the call buttons, is a 
telephone keypad. You key in the floor you want, which is shown on an 
LED screen. Then the screen shows which elevator in the bank will stop 
at your called floor. Let's say it's elevator #4. 
    You must wait until elevator #4 opens its doors for you, Getting 
on any other elevator risks skipping your floor with no way to call 
for it within the cab. When elevator #4 arrives, only you and others 
whose called floor was assigned to that cab, should board. The cab 
stops only at the specific floors assigned to it on that run. A loud 
speaker announces the floors as they are reached. 
    I think the stairs were so heavily used due to this peculiar way 
to work the elevators. 
Tuesday 6 March
    The intent of this viewing, from 5PM to 8PM, was to give the 
students a chance to speak to visitors from industry and academia with 
no actual judging. All entries in this year's fair from the level 0 
judging were allowed to exhibit, some 700 in all. 
    There was really no welcoming climate for visitors. I arrived at 
abut 5:30PM, went to the 44th floor, the lowest of the three exhibit 
floors, and sort of went about on my own. I figured to take pictures 
of Ground Zero, cruise the exhibits, inspect more closely those that 
attracted my attention. 
    As it happened, there really weren't any substantial number of 
judges. Grownups in attendance were teachers and parents. They had 
little interest in projects other then the ones their pupils worked 
on. I didn't notice anyone from the general public, the exhibit being 
promoted at the last minute as a public show. 
    The Academy gave a short pep talk thru a portable PA, then 
presented a keynote speaker. This was Larry Silverstein, the developer 
of the revived World Trade Center and, particularly, of 7WTC. He 
gushed about his building and praised the science fair. 
    The show offered light supper by sweets, sandwiches, canape's , 
sodas, and coffee. Visitors and students noshed at nearby tables 
continuously during the viewing. When doors opened, the food service 
was still unpacking. It wasn't until about 7:30PM, a half hour before 
closing, when visitors were thinning out, that the full spread was out 
for taking. 
    The exhibit tables were strung out in overly long rows, with no 
escape gaps between them. You had to walk many meters to the end of 
the row. This maneuver was necessary because exhibits were mounted 
back-to-back on both sides of the table. 
    There were no chairs in the exhibit area. Students between 
demonstration of their projects sat on the crude concrete floor, on 
the heating grills at the perimeter windows, or the too-few seats at 
the food service. Many students, anticipating judge and industry 
visitors, dressed up. Their clothing got soiled by the raw floor and 
    I suppose a bunch of chairs could have been set out in the dead 
spaces in the corners of the floor. On the other hand, in such chairs 
the kids would be far from their displays, unable to respond to a 
visitor's desire to inspect them. 
    About 1/2 of the displays I wanted to examine were not crewed! I 
hung around for a few seconds, hoping the student was nearby to skip 
up to me. Adjacent students often noted that the display's author 
stepped away somewhere. 
    There seemed to be a large excess of fair crew on hand. I saw 
flocks of them at the food area, chatting away and noshing. There were 
enough walking the floor to assist visitors, but for some reason it 
looked like far too many were called to duty on Tuesday night, leaving 
the extras with nothing to do but hang out. 
    The irregular or absent lighting made it tricky to navigate among 
the exhibits. Again and again I saw visitors bump into tables, over 
turning display boards, walking into dark walls and curtains. Some 
parts of the floors were so dark that visitors may have passed them 
for being empty. Displays placed there received little attention. 
    There was a constant stream in the stair wells. It was really 
easier and quicker to walk from floor to floor than to ride the 
elevators. For judges, their categories for the projects were disposed 
over the floors in an apparently disordered manner. I had to keep the 
supplied floor plan in hand, trek all over the floors, and then learn 
that my destination was only a table away from where I started from. 
    I heard and saw no indication that the projects failing Level 1 -- 
having no written instruments for the judges -- knew about their 
dismissal. I fear they believed they were up for judging at this very 
show, which in fact had NO judging activity. 
    By closing time, I scooped up a handful of sweets to munch on 
later, then left. In the lobby, gaggles of students were milling 
around, waiting for rides or companions. Guards were shooing them into 
the street, into the winter cold and wind. Some students ignored them 
and stayed put. Being grossly outnumbered and perhaps fearing nasty 
confrontations, the guards eased off. 
    The street outside, now in nighttime at about 8OM, was obstructed 
by ponds of water and piles of ice. There was no exterior area 
lighting except for what drifted by from the street lamps. 
Wednesday 7 March
    I arrived at 7WTC by a normally running subway in spite of a late 
night snowfall. I was a mite early. The fair registration desk wasn't 
yet open. Other people trickled in, dripping water into puddles all 
over the lobby floor. The rain mats packed up with ice and water.
    Breakfast was substantial, and fully ready, when doors opened on the 
44th floor. I took bagels, danishes, coffee. Judges were directed to 
the 40th floor for a briefing. We took the elevator, not wanting to 
walk down four floors. 
    We got instructions for the judging and a list of assigned 
projects. I left my Level 2 reports at home, not having word to bring 
them. Hence, at this briefing, I wasn't sure if my assigned projects 
were the same as those for the reports. I accepted the new assignment. 
    All the exhibits were collected to the 44th floor and were 
relieved of their yellow flags. These were the 250 projects passing 
the Level 1 judging by the off-site review of their reports. All other 
projects were removed, their role in the fair now ended. 
    All of the disconbobulations noted for the Tuesday evening show 
prevailed to some extent on Wednesday. The main improvement was that 
natural daylight added illumination sufficient to walk around with 
ease. Even so, there were dark spots, caused by shadowing of the 
windows by the tall display boards. My flashlight got a workout.
    It was a good fortune that the sky was overcast with no definite 
sun. Had there been a clear sky with hard sun, the lighting would have 
been dazzling in some parts of the floor and stygian in others. There 
were no blinds or curtains on the windows to moderate a glaring influx 
of daylight. 
    We were supposed to judge the projects in the order listed in our 
assignment sheet. Probably no judge held to that scheme. I inspected 
my projects as I found them on the floor. If one was occupied by a 
judge, i came back to it later. 
    There were THREE lunch rooms! One for the students with boxed 
meals and sodas; for the Academy crew with sandwiches, sweets, sodas, 
coffee; for the judges back at the Academy office with hot entrees, 
sweets, sodas, coffee. All three looked ample and nourishing; all 
three were stocked and ready to serve their patrons. 
    When we finished our Level 2 judging, most of us thought we were 
done with our duty. We would take lunch and go home. However, at 
lunch, in an Academy lunch room, we were advised of a final step in 
the judging process, a Level 3 step. 
    From the 75 highest ranking projects of Level 2, as tabulated by 
the Academy while we were noshing, we had to select a small number of 
winners for the national science competition. Some of us groaned at 
the additional fritter of their time. 
    This last operation was a tame one. From tabulations given out 
after lunch, we deployed at the lunch tables according to science 
category. Recall that each project was visited by several judges. 
Thus, at each table there were several opinions about each of the top-
ranked projects. From dialog and debate, we selected the few to pass 
into the national compo. 
    For my table, combined earth science and engineering, this 
procedure took only about a half hour. We turned in our papers, shook 
hands, and were released to go home. I went to work to finish out the