ISEF Badges & Other Things

Image by Erin Nolan 2013 |

With a little help from my little cousin Olivia I’ve sorted through and attached all the pin badges (and a few other things that were given to me) from Intel ISEF 2013 onto an ISEF jacket that I bought.

For those that don’t know, at the Intel ISEF (International Science & Engineering Fair), the world’s largest pre-uni science fair held in America each year, there is a pin exchange whereby all students are supposed to bring badges representative of their place of origin (their country, state or city etc) and you are given a few hours at the beginning of the week to exchange your badges with other students from around the world as an icebreaker to help you meet others and make new friends.

For me it was a very interesting experience because Europe was incredibly under-represented at ISEF, with only a few from each country (there were 2 of us from the UK, myself and Samuel Wheelhouse), whereas the US had over 20 students from each state and made up over half of the total students there. Now I knew before going that Americans have a funny thing about the “British accent”(a silly statement because there are so many drastically different accents across the British Isles that I don’t think we can be defined by the BBC English that they are trying to refer to) but I hadn’t realised how genuinely fussed they were about it. I’m aware that my experience of this is skewed by the fact that we were representing the UK and permanently wearing badges that said so as opposed to just being British in a more casual context but this still does not explain the hysteria when meeting some Americans just because they were so happy to meet a British person. There was a group from North Dakota, South Dakota and Utah that teamed together to “hunt the two British people” at the pin exchange.

As you can imagine this all therefore biased my experience as the net effect was to meet hundreds of American students and not so many from anywhere else except really Asia. Fortunately people were still carrying around badges for the rest of the week so I was able to gain additional countries later. Although some people had run out of badges before the end of the evening so I did meet people from a few other places that I never got badge evidence of.

Anyway, I have uploaded a photo of the total badges and other items on my jacket below. I am going to try and label it with each of the places that they represent and they were sort of roughly grouped by continents however there were a few that I cannot identify nor remember who gave them to me so I will be returning to ask for help with this later!




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