2019 ISEF – Sunday Adventures

Reported by Melissa Woo

We met bright and early at Bradley Airport at 7 am (7 am sharp, that is, as we were repeatedly reminded by our lovely chaperone, Ms. Frattalone). After a quick trip through security, we stopped for breakfast at McDonalds where we all got to know each other a little better, with discussion ranging from Martian soil to the APs that we are missing. Our first flight to Chicago O’Hare was relatively uneventful, and we stopped for lunch at the Macaroni Grill, which, incidentally, did not serve macaroni of any sort. We, as mature teenagers heading to ISEF, took the crayons and doodled on the paper tablecloths, playing Hangman and other games while waiting for our food. After a delicious meal, we boarded our second (and longer) flight from Chicago to Phoenix. We were graced with not one, not two, but three adorable (but very loud) babies, but we got some work done and took a quick nap. We arrived in Phoenix and headed to baggage claim, where we stayed for quite a while due to some delays with the bag distribution. We were thrilled to see welcome signs for Intel ISEF all over the airport and saw quite a few other groups headed to ISEF. As we were driving towards Phoenix, we saw many cacti, tons of palm trees, and a fair bit of desert; we had one main question on our minds, of course – where’s the beach?

See Sunday’s Photos

            We arrived at the Hyatt around 4:30 pm and were stunned by our proximity to the Convention Center – we’re staying right across the street! From the elevators, we could see the stunning grandeur of the Convention Center, which stretched out in front of us for several blocks. However, I don’t think we realized how big it truly is until we were standing at the entrance to the competition floor with thousands of projects stretching in seemingly every direction. Students from all over the world were rushing about, setting up projects, meeting friends, and checking out other research. We saw the huge wall of the names of every finalist at ISEF and were amazed by the sheer number of participants, which is over 1,800! 

            Around 6pm, we stopped by the hotel before the international pin exchange to pick up our Connecticut and CSEF pins. We were all super hungry because of the time difference, but the food at the pin exchange was great! Between meeting participants from all over the world, we somehow found time to stop by some of the many food stations, each representing a different region of the world. As we traded pins with finalists from Saudi Arabia, Japan, and Australia, we took as many pictures with new friends as we could – some people were dressed in fun costumes representing where they are from… what would we even dress up as for Connecticut? Thoroughly exhausted from the long day, we headed back to the hotel and got ready for the day ahead – project setup! Even though it’s only been one day, ISEF is already such an amazing experience! We can’t wait for the rest of the week!