Creating an Unforgettable International Experience

ISSF Event and Project Manager, Mary Collins, shares her thoughts on welcoming ISSF to IMSA, as well as the planning, and support of students, faculty, and staff during the journey to creating an unforgettable ISSF2018 experience.

I have the honor to be the Project Manager for the 14th Annual International Student Science Fair (ISSF 2018). Two years ago we began the journey to host the ISSF 2018. We put together a proposal that was presented and accepted at ISSF 2016 in Singapore. At that time June 2018 sounded so far away, but we are now less than 80 days to the Opening Ceremony.

It has been a wonderful, yet challenging experience. The first task was to identify the teams responsible for moving the project forward. We started with a program committee (comprised of subcommittees focusing on student, teacher, and principal programs), a logistics committee that would be responsible for “making things work”, the fundraising committee responsible for raising the funds to host the event and our marketing committee, responsible for making everything look good.

IMSA had been looking at the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and we wanted the event to focus on these international challenges. We knew that we could not look at all 17 SDGs, but how do you pick the most important ones? You get your program committees to reach out to the students and teachers and ask the question—what will be the three most important challenges over the next 10-15 years. From the responses, we identified three SDGs—Clean and Affordable Energy, Clean Water and Zero Hunger. Okay, we knew what we were going to be focusing on.

Next, we needed a logo. Since this is a student science fair, the best way to develop a meaningful logo is to engage the students in a design contest. The students were asked to design a logo that reflected the challenges facing the world. The winning logo represents a sailboat—it takes teamwork to maneuver the boat along its course, the wind provides the energy, and the blue and green color scheme reflects the environment.

We were now on our way to develop our website, fundraising, and marketing materials. That work began in February 2017—June 2018 was still a very long time away. In June 2017 eight of us were able to travel to Busan, South Korea for ISSF 2017. We saw first-hand the amount of planning, coordination, and work needed to make an event successful. We needed to get serious when everyone returned to the campus in September.

What are some of the things we learned? We needed to our students to be involved—to help develop the opening and closing ceremonies, to become “buddies” to the visiting schools, to help design events and learn how to become social media experts to share the great events globally.

September—back to school–the student reaction was overwhelming. Over 100 of our 650 students expressed interest in being involved with the project. Their excitement and enthusiasm were contagious. Our next challenge was to identify the students to lead the various teams and to recruit team members. With so many talented and dedicated students, it was a challenge, but we were able to form the teams and they are well on their way to developing a successful event from the student perspective.

Mary Collins.

ISSF2018 Project Manager

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