Near East South Asia - Council of Overseas Schools

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The NVSEF Grade 5 Project Declares Victory

By DR STUART FLEISCHER, Middle School Science Coordinator, Walworth Barbour AIS in Israel
NESA Virtual Science and Engineering Fair Project Director (NVSEF)
The GAIA Project Director (Global Awareness, Investigation and Action)

WBAIS Team #6 learns it won the NVSEF 5. Yes - via Zoom! Although WBAIS was back on campus and learning, NVSEF 5 Coordinators Susie Trifman and Lesly Geyer surprised their students at home with a Zoom session.

The NVSEF celebrated 18 years of building excellent science and engineering practices through a hybrid platform built so international schools mainly in NESA can participate and celebrate science and engineering habits of mind with their Grades 5-8 students!

One-hundred percent of Grade 5 schools and 75 percent of middle schools successfully participated during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 1,400 students participated this year.

The Winners of the 2020 NVSEF Grade 5 are:



Walworth Barbour American International School, Israel Team 6
Project: Ibex Climbing Shoes
This team completed a Biomimicry Engineering design project where they modified the soles of shoes to model characteristics of Ibex hooves.


International School of Islamabad, Pakistan Team 1
Project: Testing Charcoal Types for Water Filtration
This team determined that charcoal from rice husks performed better in water filtration tests than many other types of charcoal.


American International School Chennai, India Team 1
Project: Design a Testing System for Air Filters
This team designed a method for testing different types of air filters to determine 2.5 micrometers or smaller particulate matter.


The team of elementary science education experts from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, headed by Associate Dean of Education and NVSEF Researcher Dr. Eric Brunsell, reviewed and ranked this year’s top Grade 5 NVSEF teams. Approximately 50 teams competed in the NVSEF Grade 5 from ISOI, CAC, WBAIS, AIS Chennai and AIS Zagreb. These teams were further filtered through a rigorous and completely online Round II where research teams were evaluated on their research report, digital tri-fold display and responses to four questions about their research.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic threw a box of wrenches into the system with school closures, relocation of students, lack of access to experiments, one-hundred percent of NVSEF 5 schools continued with the project. Teachers from all of the schools found various ways to determine which teams could proceed to Round II. For those schools whose research time was cut short or the local fair was cancelled, the litmus test was whether a team had enough data collected to build a credible analysis and conclusion.

Because of the online platform in Moodle, teams were able to continue from anywhere in the world. Student teams and teachers were able to asynchronously meet up and complete work necessary to prepare their teams for Round II. For many schools, this was a rare opportunity to keep students focused on science and working in collaborative groups. Some teams met through Zoom or other video conferencing applications to discuss, write, edit and present their responses to challenging questions posed to each team.

Schools participating in the NESA Virtual Science and Engineering Fair provide their students with an excellent opportunity to put to work in authentic projects the science and engineering practices from the Next Generation Science Standards. Students also explore the impact of science and engineering on society as they research real-world implications of their work.

NVSEF supports students to design projects with the support of their teachers and university experts. Successful completion of these projects requires students to use science or engineering processes, data collection and analysis, graph construction and interpretation, and critical disciplinary-specific literacy skills. Through their projects, students demonstrate their understanding of many of the standards identified in NGSS, CCSS Mathematics, and CCSS Literacy.

The NVSEF 2021-2022 will be off and running next year. The training sessions will be held online which gives many more schools the opportunity to join the NVSEF and learn more. We will be improving our platform and access will be more open to all schools. So get your Grade 5 team ready and join the NVSEF Victory Parade!

For more information on how to join the NVSEF/NVSEF5 Projects, please contact Dr. Stuart Fleischer:

NESA and the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Overseas Schools, with Dr. Bea Cameron as our project supervisor, sponsor the NVSEF. Since 2004, more than 20,000 students in NESA and other international schools have participated in NVSEF and NVSEF Grade 5 Fairs.