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NESA Virtual Science Fair

Launched in 2005, the NESA Virtual Science Fair (NVSF) allows students to shift from the traditional science fair, which is totally physical in nature, to a hybrid science fair which allows for virtual modes. Via the Moodle platform, used in many NESA schools, virtual communities of schools and virtual regions are created to allow students to use the power of e-learning. Students can enhance their science skills beyond the lab; discuss their ideas and experiences with students in other schools; and work with experts in science, academia, and professional life (e-mentors).

The NVSF is a successful project that crosses geopolitical borders in the Middle East and other regions with students from over 75 countries participating in scientific research and multi-cultural exchange. As of June 2014, nearly 8,000 middle school students and 2,000 fifth-grade students have collaborated with 4,500+ distance e-mentors from over 50 U.S. universities, including science education faculty in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

The National Association of Independent Schools has adopted the NVSF model as well as several schools in Germany where it is called Virtual Science Fair-Deutschland. Two U.S. university professors in science education oversee the project, conduct research, and guide and train the vast cadre of e-mentors the NVSF relies on as the backbone of the project.

In spring 2007, the NVSF expanded to include fifth grade students with the creation of "NVSF5th", supported by the Office of Overseas Schools (A/OS) and the Overseas Schools Advisory Council (OSAC). The project has now expanded to thirteen schools, ten of which are NESA schools. This project which has four NESA coordinators (project directors, e-mentor coordinator and an IT Director) added a science education researcher to the staff to build more support with fifth grade teachers in infusing better “habits of science” into the fifth grade project.

(Jump to NVSF 2013-14 / Fall 2013 / Spring 2013/ Fall 2011 / Fall 2010 / Spring 2010)


NESA Virtual Science Fair — Winter 2015 Update

By Stuart Fleischer, NVSF Project Manager, WBAIS Israel

This past year, the NESA Virtual Science Fair had over 1,000 students comprising 350 teams participate in the 5th grade and middle school project from NESA and other non-NESA international schools. Several middle school teams from NESA collaborated with teams from Germany, Korea and the US.

In the Middle School, our top NESA teams held off candidates from NAIS and Virtual Science Fair Deutschland to take top honors once again. The American International School of Kuwait went home with highest award, The Dr. Robert A. Sills Science Achievement Award, presented at the October 2014 NESA Fall Leadership Conference in Istanbul.

In the NVSF Fifth Grade, the American School of Doha was awarded the Cameron Cup in a very close competition with teams from Walworth Barbour-AIS and ACS Amman. 

As of June 2014, nearly 8,000 middle school students and 2,000 fifth-grade students have collaborated with 4,500+ distance e-mentors from over 50 U.S. universities, including science education faculty in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. 

The NVSF celebrates its tenth year in 2015. This acclaimed project is supported by the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Overseas Schools and of course NESA. It crosses geopolitical borders in order to enable middle and upper elementary school students from over 75 countries to participate in scientific research, multicultural conversations and exchange of science investigation and problem-solving ideas. 

Congratulations once again to AIS-Kuwait and AS-Doha for their science achievements!


The 2013-14 NESA Science Fair

By Stuart Fleischer, NVSF, Project Manager, WBAIS Israel

The results are in again! The NESA Virtual Science Fair had a spectacular 2013-14 year. In 1938, the American philosopher and educator John Dewey published a book entitled "Logic: The Theory of Inquiry" in which he coined the phrase "scientific habits of mind." He characterized these habits as follows: Logical Thinking, Quantitative Analysis, Deductive Reasoning, Proper Questioning and Reliance on sound evidence. Because science is a system of inquiry, these habitats are turned on all the time. The NESA Virtual Science Fair places emphasis on these “scientific habits of mind.” Not just the science content knowledge and process skills but the NVSF illuminates the underlying framework of shared values that exist within scientific commuWinners from AIS Kuwaitnities. The role of the classroom teacher, the student research team, the e-mentor and university science education experts help in fostering scientific habits of mind through the creation of a community of learners. The NVSF is truly a science community now entering its 10th year.

The NVSF Middle School Project had eight international teams this year. An International Team consists of at least two members from different schools collaborating together on a research question. The schools came from our NESA Schools and from NAIS (The National Association of Independent Schools).

The NVSF5 Fifth Grade Project entered its second year of using university e-mentors under the supervision of Dr. Eric Brunsell from the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh. Jimmy Leeper, The NVSF5 Coordinator from AS Doha, has been involved in every year of the NVSF since its start back in 2004. The Dynamic Duo of Jimmy and Eric have created a very powerful project that has ignited student learning and professional growth and sharing among the teachers involved.

I want to wish a very special good bye to Lyndsey Cox of AIS Kuwait, whose teams won the top three places in the NVSF this year. Lyndsey has been a very important team member in the continued development of the NVSF project, especially her development of assessment rubrics for judges to use on line.

Now for the winners of the 2014 NVSF Middle School:

  • 1st: AIS Kuwait 50
  • 2nd: AIS Kuwait 28 and International Team 06 (WBAIS Israel and Canton County Day School)
  • 3rd International Team 03 (ACS Athens and AIS Kuwait)

NVSF Grade 5 winners:

  • 1st Place: As Doha Team 05
  • 2nd Place: WBAIS Israel Team 01
  • 3rd Place: WBAIS Israel Team 06.

Congratulations to all of the 28 teams that participated from around the international system of schools. If you are interested in adding your middle school or 5th grade to our amazing team of great schools participating in the NVSF please email Dr. Stuart Fleischer at

The 2012-13 NESA Virtual Science Fair

By Stuart Fleischer, NVSF, Project Manager, WBAIS Israel

Once again, the results of this year's NESA Virtual Science Fair are in the news. The winners for 2012-2013 will be taking center stage at the Fall Leadership Conference in Kathmandu where the winning schools will be honored and presented with trophies and plaques.

Congratulations to AIS-Chennai for winning both NVSF and NVSF5!

2013 NVSF5 winners:
  • FIRST PLACE: American International School of Chennai - Team #1
  • SECOND PLACE: Walworth Barbour American International School in Israel Inc. - Team #1
  • THIRD PLACE: Walworth Barbour American International School in Israel Inc. - Team #4
2013 NVSF winners:
  • FIRST PLACE: American International School of Chennai - Team #10
  • SECOND PLACE: American International School of Kuwait and Dortmund - Team #2 (VSF-Deutschland)
  • THIRD PLACE: American International School of Kuwait - Team #2     

26 Teams from NESA, CEESA, MAIS, EARCOS, AISA, AASA and the Virtual Science Fair - Deutschland competed in both NVSF and the NVSF5 Projects. Over 1, 500 students participated this year. Our NVSF Researchers, Dr. Randy Spaid (Middle Georgia State University) and Dr. Eric Brunsell (University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh) both indicated an increase in project complexity and understanding. Dr. Sharon Schleigh of Purdue University helped teachers at the NVSF- Zagreb Workshop cultivate "good questions" and “creative ways” of developing an experiment. Seems the helpful pointers paid off.

Well, this year the American International School in Chennai has grabbed both trophies for both middle school and 5th grade. Four years ago, AISC won the NVSF5 and now, both schools can revel in the glory that they are champions of science.                  

We are looking forward to the 2013-14 NVSF. Several Member schools are now vying for the few positions open.

Please contact Dr. Stuart Fleischer for more information about the NVSF Projects.


Spring 2013 Update

NESA Virtual Science Fair 2013 Update

By Stuart Fleischer, NVSF, Project Manager, WBAIS Israel

As of April 23, 2013 over 16 International teams from NESA, CEESA, EARCOS and AASSA and 4 local German schools (Virtual Science Fair – Deutschland) from Berlin, Bremen, Munich and Hanover are part of 50 teams that have made it to the second round of the competition. Twenty-five teams from the NVSF 5th grade project are also in round II. Judges from each school and university professors from several participating universities in the U.S. will assess the teams through an online rubric. The NVSF 5th Grade Project this year is using e-mentors from the University of Wisconsin under the guidance of Dr Eric Brunsell. The success rate in quality collaboration between students and e-mentors has risen significantly. The final winners of the NVSF Middle and 5th Grade Science Fairs will be announced in late May.

This past training session in Zagreb at AISZ has borne many new fruits as more refined professional development of the science fair took place. Lyndsey Cox from AIS Kuwait has developed an exemplar rubric for round II.  She has analyzed winning teams from the past years and developed a very useful rubric that will guide judges in making the best possible decisions when assessing their teams.

Each year, the level of professional growth and collaboration in science between our schools continues to grow.  Expert science teachers like Nick Mitchell (AS Doha), Christina Bakoyannis (ACS Athens) and David Ranter (WBAIS) have helped the NVSF improve each year so that our students have the best possible experiences.

We look forward to seeing you at the Fall Leadership Conference in Kathmandu to announce the 2013 winners.

How can your 5th grade or middle school join the NVSF?  Contact Dr. Stuart Fleischer at: or Jimmy Leeper at:


Fall 2011 Update

Middle School Winners ACS Athens

The 2010-11 NESA Virtual Science Fair Season has finished another wonderful year of science investigation.  This year the winner of the NVSF Middle School Science Fair goes to the American Community School of Athens.  Members of the winning team, Dimitri Grant, Alexandros Nikolaidis, Giorgis Koutsorrizos, took first place with their research on “Sound Attenuation.” Their science teacher, Ms. Christina Bakoyannis along with ACS Team #20, will receive their awards and trophies from David Chojnacki and Dr Bea Cameron at the Fall Leadership Conference in Athens this coming October.  ACS Athens is the largest school in the NVSF with over 80+ teams each year!  Well Done ACS Athens. WBAIS Israel, Team #61, came in second  place and ACS Athens Team #17 placed third.  A total of 280 teams competed in the NVSF.

For the 5th Graders, AS Doha can breathe easier as they took home the championship in the NVSF5th for the first time. They have come in second place for the last three years!! Congratulations to Tsianna Barnwell, Rami Wakileh and AlReem Al-Zaman with their research the effect of heating oil on Elodea densa in an aquatic environment. Congratulations to their teacher Chad Martin, Elementary Science Coordinator Nick Mitchell and NVSF5th Coordinator Jimmy Leeper for their support. Second place went to Lincoln School – Nepal Team #5 and third place was awarded to WBAIS Israel Team #2.

The NVSF and NVSF5th meetings this year will be held in Barcelona on October 26-27 at The Benjamin Franklin International School. AIS Kuwait will be joining our middle school team this year. There are still openings for 5th grade teams to join.

The NVSF5th Project enjoyed the support from Dr. Eric Brunsell, University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh, this past year as our e-mentor support and research coordinator.  Dr. Brunsell’s students acted as e-mentor supervisors and mentors to our traditional high school e-mentors.  This created a very positive change to the overall collaboration dynamics. His influence was so great with the NVSF5th Coordinator from WBAIS Israel, Susie Geller, that Eric will be visiting WBAIS after Barcelona to work directly with the elementary staff for three days exciting teachers about science.

In addition Dr. Sharon Schleighs from East Carolina University will join the NVSF as an additional researcher and e-mentor coordinator.  She is also the director of the North Carolina State Science Fair and is researching how to incorporate the NVSF concept into U.S. traditional science fairs.

The NVSF would like to wish Cathy Berghahn, Cairo American College, a warm goodbye, as she moves east to Japan and ISJ.  Cathy, known as the Little Kahuna of the NVSF, has been a major force in the development and positive growth over the past fall years.


Fall 2010 Update

NESA Virtual Science Fair Fall Update
By Stuart Fleischer, NVSF Project Director

(from left) David Ratner (NVSF Coordinator at WBAIS), Jonathan Ben Meir, Varun Natu and Aurio Martin

The judges have made their voices loud and clear and have decided on the 2009-2010 NESA Virtual Science Fair Champions. In the middle school, Walworth Barbour American International School (WBAIS) has finally taken the trophy. Last year they came in second to The American International School of Muscat (TAISM) and the opposite happened this year. Congratulations to WBAIS Team #26 (Jonathan Ben Meir, Aurio Martins and Varun Natu) and their coordinator, David Ratner on their WIFI Research Project. TAISM who is presently holding the Travelling Trophy will have to send it west. 

Since the NVSF began in 2006, the trophy has resided in Dubai (2006 and 2007), Johannesburg (2008), Muscat (2009) and now will move to Tel Aviv.  Over 350 teams competed in the NVSF from 14 schools globally. A team from Dortmund Germany co-participated and came in 5th place.

On the 5th grade front, the American International School - Chennai took the honors this year.  Shobhana Radhakrishnan a 5th grade teacher that saw a workshop on the NVSF5th at JOSTI in 2008 joined this year. Her team AIS Chennai #5 took the honors this year. The team members (Connor Beasley, Samhita Basavanhalli, and Monet Swain) researched Enzymes. Second, third and fourth place went to the American School of Doha. Congratulations also to Nick Mitchell in Doha and the 5th grade team of teachers for taking the other top places. Watch out for these teams next year!

The teacher training for the 2010-11 NESA Virtual Science Fairs will take place in Cairo during the week of October 13-16, 2010. The NVSF and NVSF5th Directors would like to thank  Cairo American College’s NVSF Coordinator, Cathy Berghahn and the CAC Administration for opening their school to host our annual training event.

For more information about the NVSF or NVSF5th, please contact Stuart Fleischer ( or Jimmy Leeper ( There are limited openings in each group.

So why do we love to do the NVSF with our students?

“Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought.”

-Albert Szent-Györgi (1893-1986) U S biochemist.


Spring 2010 Update

NESA Virtual Science Fair Goes “Global”!
By Stuart Fleischer, NVSF Project Manager and Science Teacher, WBAIS, Israel

The middle school and 5th grade versions of the popular science fair are now in the second round of judging to determine this year’s winners. Almost 500 teams from 28 middle and 5th grade schools in NESA and around the world are competing to win the coveted “Dr Robert Sills Scientific Discovery Award” (Middle School) and the “Cameron Cup”(5th grade). Presently these trophies reside at The American International School of Muscat (TAISM) and the Walworth Barbour American International School in Israel (WBAIS).  

The NVSF Concept has been adopted by local schools in Dortmund, Germany and they have sent one team into round II as a co-delegate to the competition. The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) has created their own Virtual Science Fair in the U.S. and will hopefully become co-delegates next year. Presently there are 14 teams in our NVSF middle and 5th grade projects and this is now a closed competition. As teams drop out, teams may join.

The NVSF project is moving over to Moodle for the 2010-11 year. Test runs by Brian Turner and Kenny Paynter were very successful and we look forward to moving the NVSF over to a new and robust e-platform. In addition, Priya John, the NVSF coordinator at AIS Jeddah conducted her NVSF project this year using VoiceThread to promote her online collaboration between e-mentors and her students and it was a great success.

One of the wonderful outcomes of the NVSF team meeting each year together is the wonderful exchange of science ideas and tools being used. Michele Watkins from Cairo American College (CAC) showed off a super cool online program at the Fall Athens meetings that her students use  to animate their text to movie animation called XtraNormal Cathy Berghahn at CAC is also spearheading a new e-mentor system to increase the collaboration quality of learning of science process skills into our project.

The NVSF meeting Face2Face and online learning exchanges have given many teachers in NESA a mini-science conference above and beyond their initial responsibility of running a hybrid science fair. All I can say is that I constantly meet and collaborate with the best of NESA’s middle and 5th grade teachers!

If you are interested in joining the NVSF or NVSF5th grade, please contact Dr Stuart Fleischer at sfleischer  Stuart will also be presenting this summer at the JOSTI Conference and will be available for discussions on how your school can join and participate in the NVSF program.

Read the previous updates from Winter 2009-2010 NESA News and Fall 2009 NESA News

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