Nationals Event Discussion

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Re: Nationals Event Discussion

Post by Killboe » June 5th, 2019, 12:57 am

Solar (24th) : Test was nice, I got really messed up on the solar eclipse part, overall pretty good. 9/10

Disease (40th smh) : Test was really good, it was a LOT better than the nats test last year. 10/10

Thermo (47th smh) : Test was easy, prediction kind of determined your placement. 8/10.
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Re: Nationals Event Discussion

Post by Piisgood164 » June 5th, 2019, 6:14 am

mastersuperfan wrote:
pikachu4919 wrote:
mastersuperfan wrote: Shoutouts to pikachu4919 for helping out with the event and also for reminding us not to leave our beakers and test tubes behind even after we had already left the room. :P
"Did you miss my memes"
"Yeah, but we don't miss your free response"

Piisgood164 and I already have a couple mean ideas in mind for any competitions either of us get asked to do next season :P
Since you already did a "none of the above" culprit test, do these new ideas include an "all of the above" now
Can neither confirm nor deny anything seeing as we haven't started anything nor even been formally asked back. Nonetheless, to quote one edgy boy, "This is where the fun begins"

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Re: Nationals Event Discussion

Post by wec01 » June 5th, 2019, 7:12 am

Piisgood164 wrote:
mastersuperfan wrote:
pikachu4919 wrote:
"Did you miss my memes"
"Yeah, but we don't miss your free response"

Piisgood164 and I already have a couple mean ideas in mind for any competitions either of us get asked to do next season :P
Since you already did a "none of the above" culprit test, do these new ideas include an "all of the above" now
Can neither confirm nor deny anything seeing as we haven't started anything nor even been formally asked back. Nonetheless, to quote one edgy boy, "This is where the fun begins"
I think I remember taking an "all of the above" test while practicing. It was just like "we found the same suspicious powders on all of them" or something.
2019 Division C Nationals Medals:
4th place Fossils
5th place Sounds of Music
2nd place Thermodynamics

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Re: Nationals Event Discussion

Post by windu34 » June 5th, 2019, 9:24 am

Circuit Lab C
Thought I would share some thoughts on how the event went from a supervisor perspective.
Test Design: The format was heavily influenced by my organic chemistry exams that I took over the past year. The boxes for answers, score totalling page, and "draw this" type of questions were all relatively new things that I had never used on prior exams. I would definitely like to hear some feedback from competitors on the format, as I think it will be the format I stick to in the future.
Difficulty: As a past nationals competitor that has been scorned by easy exams, one of the biggest things I wanted to accomplish was a clear separation among the top 8, but also a good distribution among the lower placing teams. One of the more difficult parts of writing for Nationals was certainly the fact that the teams on attendance represent a very wide range of abilities. When I looked at other exams from various invitationals, I noticed very few had classic circuit analysis questions - I was seeing a ton of written explanation questions. The issue with this is that circuit classes in college taken by electrical engineering students are heavily calculation-based. I think written questions are very appropriate for division B, but division C exams should be at least 50% calculation-based problems. Although I was worried initially about how the scores would turn out since invitational exams had not prepared teams to expect the content on my exam, I was pleasantly suprised by the spread of scores on the exam, and the top teams truly impressed me.
Lab: I did not write the lab portion, but Dr. Isik and I conceptualized it together and I thought he did a good job with choosing the components we would use. I think the only things I would have gone back and changed would have been adding more instructions to clarify that resistor values used in the circuits should be based on the real resistors we gave teams for the lab and I would have provided a list of the resistors that were given, so teams could design the circuits without having to measure/determine all of the resistances first. I thought the lab was pretty simple overall - the voltage divider should have been easy and the dc gain block using the op-amp shoudnt have been too hard if teams had played with op amps before. As it turns out, I dont think enough teams have played with physical components, and It seemed like many had just been "winging it" on the lab all year. I understand that since so many competitions have insanely hard labs that dont end up dictating scores, but this was certainly not one of those scenarios - doing well on the lab was very attainable imo and it could significantly help your placement.
Grading: First of all, thank god we had 5 people grading, because I dont know how we would have gotten through it with any less. We broke the test up into 5 "sections", and I graded the questions that I thought were most likely to be difficult to assign partial credit to (namely the rectification questions, capacitor charging problem, summing op-amp, etc). For most of the classic 6pt math problems, we took off 1 pt for wrong sig figs and 1 pt for wrong units. Most people were fine on units, but there were a ton of points lost for incorrect sig figs, despite the large majority of the questions saying to use 3 sig figs right in the problem. My original intention was to have competitors figure out how many sig figs were needed for all/most of the problems, but the circuit design software I used did not allow for that. I think alot of teams were just rushing and forgot to read the questions in their entirety, but there were way too many teams losing points for not reading the questions.
Question Analysis: The first two pages (most multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank) were primarily put there to be really easy motivational-booster questions that almost all teams that prepared could do relatively easily. I was surprised at how after the first 15 minutes, I saw several top teams still looking at those questions. There were no tricks in the history and calculations were meant to be straightforward. I think these questions needed to be a bit easier, because I did not intend for teams to spend much time on them. The rest of the questions pretty much yielded the distributions that I expected.
Summary: All in all, I was very impressed by the ability of the teams and I think the event ran pretty well. If you have any feedback on how the event/exam could be improved, I welcome feedback and hope you will post here or contact me. Looking forward to next season!
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Re: Nationals Event Discussion

Post by Umaroth » June 5th, 2019, 1:20 pm

I thought I had already posted my reviews, but I guess I forgot to hit submit :lol:

Battery Buggy - 3rd place
Very well run event. The proctors were very enjoyable and enthusiastic, and they knew the rules well. Nothing much else to say except very well run. 10/10

Circuit Lab - 3rd place
Also well run, but the test was far too easy for what I expected from a national level competition. The test was nearly all multiple choice, with a very heavily weighted 3 question lab portion. The test did not have as much calculation as I had anticipated, and I felt like besides the lab, there was not much in the way of separating teams. Apart from this, I felt that the lab portion was very organized compared to the one we encountered at states and regionals, and the proctors were excellent. 8/10

Dynamic Planet - 2nd place
Hands down the best DP test I have taken this year. It was designed very well, with a multiple choice portion that would act to separate the teams that were not able to complete the short answer part, and a very good short answer portion that required a strong knowledge of glacial processes to complete. I thought the difficulty level was very appropriate for a nationals level test, with some easy questions and more challenging ones that required a fairly complete understanding of the subject. The proctor was quite obviously well-learned in the topic of glaciers. 11/10

Meteorology - 2nd place
Oh my god this was my favorite event of the day. The test was LONG, somewhere in the area of 130 questions, plus the lab portion. The entire thing was essentially multiple case studies, applying basically everything on the rules. The lab was not too hard, and I felt that it was relevant. The test was very organized; they provided a table of contents of which topic was covered in which section to make splitting up the test easier. The test was very data/image rich, but all of the images were printed in very good quality on big poster boards at each workstation, making them very clear to see. We were also provided stickers to put on each page of the test rather than writing our team name/number on them, which I enjoyed because stickers are fun :) . As a plus, the ES's last name was also Kramer (well, we're Kraemer with an e, but close enough, Kramer vs Kraemer). Exceeded my expectation, even for a nationals test. 12/10 would take again.

Overall - 6th place
This was our first year at Nationals, so we don't have much information to work off of, but it was definitely our best experience this year. Of course there were some mishaps, like our plane getting delayed by 6 hours because of bad weather over the Midwest, forcing us to stay overnight in Newark, but the tournament schedule ended up accommodating well for us. All of the nature surrounding the campus was definitely very beautiful for a bunch of nerds from California who don't get out much. I didn't get the invitational feel, mainly because we haven't been to many large invitationals aside from UT this year, but I am very pleased with how things went and how we performed as a first-time nats team with a team who, for the most part, had not done scioly before this year (two seventh graders medalling in Thermo :o ). Cornell 2019 was a great way to wrap up my first full year in scioly, my Division B career, and Kraemer's first year at nationals. Hope to see everyone out in Raleigh next year!
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Re: Nationals Event Discussion

Post by andrewwski » June 5th, 2019, 1:45 pm

chalker wrote:
TheSquaad wrote:So someone came into my sounds testing room with me and basically videoed/photographed (I think videoed, but not sure) my entire build run. Is this normal? I’ve never encountered something like this before. Normally I wouldn’t raise any eyebrows, except this event is coming back next year, and there are aspects of my build that I think my team would want to keep secret (I’m graduating myself).
It was likely the official SO videographer. Did he have kinda bushy white hair? And he definitely would have had a red lanyard with VIP label on it.

Note, we are making some significant tweaks to Sounds next year, so I wouldn't worry too much about keeping a particularly device design secret.
Yes, this was the case. I volunteered for this event, and he did take footage of several teams. He was the only non-ES or volunteer allowed in the testing rooms (ES also took some pictures for Summer Institute).

Nothing to see here, folks...

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Re: Nationals Event Discussion

Post by MissAmargasaurus » June 5th, 2019, 4:05 pm

A little bit late, but here's my reviews of the events! (And the tournament itself.) It was really cool to meet some of you, even if it was only for a minute or two.

Experimental Design: (32nd) This is the worst I've placed on this event at Nationals, but I don't mind. I think it was a great prompt, but as others have said I was disappointed by how much it limited what you could actually do. I was really expecting a chemistry prompt because of the room(s) we were in. It was something completely unexpected and quite hard, which is what I'd expect at Nationals. The supervisors did well too with monitoring everyone. Shout out to the one who helped us remember the word quotient, lol. I give it a score of 8.5/10.

Herpetology: (13th) It was a nice test, but once again we had the same issues as last year. :( This would be a fine practice test or even one for a small invitational, but at the Nationals level it was really disappointing. Even with 34 stations and the short time, only having 2 questions on each one, with 1 of those always being ID, made it way too easy. As others have said, the difference in points really was down to just a couple of key questions with specific terminology. If there were more questions at each station I wouldn't mind that, but with the amount we had it just fell flat sadly. 4/10.

Fossils: (21st) I LOVED THIS TEST! Amazing specimens, great layout for station rotation considering the room it was in, and really friendly supervisors. I had talked with one of the supervisors the day before when I was at the museum tour, and he was really nice and it just added to the experience a lot to know how dedicated people are to making a good test. There was a great mix of ID questions and multiple choice with the time given, and me and my partner finished with only a few seconds left on almost every station, which I consider a good thing. I've seen some people say it was too easy, but I personally disagree, and to me I think that this test was almost perfect and is the kind of test all ID events should be like at the Nationals level. My only criticism is that there was no in-between time to move to stations, which could be a problem when moving from the top of the stairs to the very bottom. But even with that, I still give Fossils a 10/10.

Wright Stuff: (17th) Wow! I was NOT expecting this score and I'm so happy! We had a 2:53 flight, the best our plane has ever had. The location was great, even with the nets which I was sure would be a problem for us. The supervisors were nice and clear, and kept track of everything well. I don't have a lot to say honestly. I think the only thing that would make it better would be for tables to be available for us to rest our planes and supplies on, I heard of at least one plane getting stepped on. :shock: It was hard to share the floor with so many other teams, especially on the day of practice. 9/10.

Overall Tournament: (35th) We got 35th!! You should have heard our team yell when we found out, we were all so happy. I am so happy with the result we got this year. I really think that this year, the tests were great. I haven't heard of any tests being off topic, and everyone generally had positive feelings after leaving an event. However, the issues with the opening ceremony and awards ceremony really soured it, along with the dorm situation. The clickers for slides not working and the wrong teams being called out really sucked, and how the awards went on so long it really cut into the time for the swap meet. I don't think the location for the swap meet was a good choice, having teams on different floors felt weird, and it was so crowded, ESPECIALLY on the stairs. It felt a little dangerous when it came to the stairs, honestly. Our dorm was really far from where the events were held, and only had 3(? I think? I know we had at least 2 that the girls were using.) bathrooms which were not connected to our rooms. It was stressful to organize showers for everyone, and uncomfortable sharing with parents/coaches. For the first time an ivy league school has hosted Nationals, all my expectations were met for the tests, but when it came to the ceremonies and dorms, I was really disappointed. I don't have much to say about the food, I thought it was good but it's down to personal taste. Overall only a 7.5/10, the ceremony stuff just killed it for me even if I'm super happy with the results my team got.
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Re: Nationals Event Discussion

Post by pepperonipi » June 5th, 2019, 5:58 pm

Detector Building: Apparently the main ES didn't know there was impound, so the first 30-40 minutes of the impound period was just a bunch of teams sitting outside the testing room waiting for something to happen. After he knew, he opened the room adjacent to the testing room as a sort-of impound room. The teams not immediately competing after the impound period left there stuff in there and headed off. It wasn't really a major annoyance. The event did start at its scheduled time, and the supervisors were very nice. The test wasn't bad either; it was like I expected. As far as I could tell, nothing went terribly wrong and the event was run how it was supposed to, except for the impound period and that the ES's forgot to test our probes in boiling water. 9/10
Jjshan26 wrote:The food was mostly mediocre but the soft serve <3 <3
Trueeeeee - soft serve 11/10 when it worked correctly.
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Re: Nationals Event Discussion

Post by mjcox2000 » June 5th, 2019, 8:10 pm

windu34 wrote:Circuit Lab C
Thought I would share some thoughts on how the event went from a supervisor perspective.
Test Design: The format was heavily influenced by my organic chemistry exams that I took over the past year. The boxes for answers, score totalling page, and "draw this" type of questions were all relatively new things that I had never used on prior exams. I would definitely like to hear some feedback from competitors on the format, as I think it will be the format I stick to in the future.
Difficulty: As a past nationals competitor that has been scorned by easy exams, one of the biggest things I wanted to accomplish was a clear separation among the top 8, but also a good distribution among the lower placing teams. One of the more difficult parts of writing for Nationals was certainly the fact that the teams on attendance represent a very wide range of abilities. When I looked at other exams from various invitationals, I noticed very few had classic circuit analysis questions - I was seeing a ton of written explanation questions. The issue with this is that circuit classes in college taken by electrical engineering students are heavily calculation-based. I think written questions are very appropriate for division B, but division C exams should be at least 50% calculation-based problems. Although I was worried initially about how the scores would turn out since invitational exams had not prepared teams to expect the content on my exam, I was pleasantly suprised by the spread of scores on the exam, and the top teams truly impressed me.
Lab: I did not write the lab portion, but Dr. Isik and I conceptualized it together and I thought he did a good job with choosing the components we would use. I think the only things I would have gone back and changed would have been adding more instructions to clarify that resistor values used in the circuits should be based on the real resistors we gave teams for the lab and I would have provided a list of the resistors that were given, so teams could design the circuits without having to measure/determine all of the resistances first. I thought the lab was pretty simple overall - the voltage divider should have been easy and the dc gain block using the op-amp shoudnt have been too hard if teams had played with op amps before. As it turns out, I dont think enough teams have played with physical components, and It seemed like many had just been "winging it" on the lab all year. I understand that since so many competitions have insanely hard labs that dont end up dictating scores, but this was certainly not one of those scenarios - doing well on the lab was very attainable imo and it could significantly help your placement.
Grading: First of all, thank god we had 5 people grading, because I dont know how we would have gotten through it with any less. We broke the test up into 5 "sections", and I graded the questions that I thought were most likely to be difficult to assign partial credit to (namely the rectification questions, capacitor charging problem, summing op-amp, etc). For most of the classic 6pt math problems, we took off 1 pt for wrong sig figs and 1 pt for wrong units. Most people were fine on units, but there were a ton of points lost for incorrect sig figs, despite the large majority of the questions saying to use 3 sig figs right in the problem. My original intention was to have competitors figure out how many sig figs were needed for all/most of the problems, but the circuit design software I used did not allow for that. I think alot of teams were just rushing and forgot to read the questions in their entirety, but there were way too many teams losing points for not reading the questions.
Question Analysis: The first two pages (most multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank) were primarily put there to be really easy motivational-booster questions that almost all teams that prepared could do relatively easily. I was surprised at how after the first 15 minutes, I saw several top teams still looking at those questions. There were no tricks in the history and calculations were meant to be straightforward. I think these questions needed to be a bit easier, because I did not intend for teams to spend much time on them. The rest of the questions pretty much yielded the distributions that I expected.
Summary: All in all, I was very impressed by the ability of the teams and I think the event ran pretty well. If you have any feedback on how the event/exam could be improved, I welcome feedback and hope you will post here or contact me. Looking forward to next season!
First place in div C circuit lab here.

I remember only bits and pieces of the test because we were busy working on it the entire time, and we didn't have any time left over to look at it and check answers or see the test in its entirety. Also, I mostly worked on multiple choice and my partner mostly worked on free response. As far as the test format goes, I have nothing to say about it, which can only be a good sign -- I think a poorly-formatted test is memorable for its poor formatting, and a well-designed test should direct competitors' attention to the content without needing to have the format cross their minds.

I thought the free response was well-done. In our practice, we focused heavily on college type circuit design and analysis problems -- I was able to find a bunch of past tests for an introductory electrical engineering class by using my student logon on the course website of the college I'm going to next year. There were a handful of problems we didn't finish, but that was more because of the sheer number of questions than their particular difficulty -- we could likely have done all of them with just a bit more time. If anything, I think there could have been more calculation questions (load lines, maybe?) and fewer written questions (the magnet one on the last page seemed like it didn't fit in with the style of the rest of the test). All in all, I think there were enough problems and they were at the right level to make this test effective at differentiating teams.

My partner says that she thinks the calculation questions could have been harder (although maybe it was a design choice on your part to keep them generally easier). We had a thorough binder, but (at least in the portion of the test I worked on) I never had to use it for anything more than looking up the wye/delta transform equations, and, on the lab portion, referencing op-amp configuration gain equations. My partner appreciates that the history section was short and that the test was focused more on practical application-based questions. She says she also only looked at the binder for a single question (to look up a history fact). All in all, there are positives and negatives to having a largely binder-independent test, and I'm sure it was a conscious design choice to make it the way it was.

The lab portion was interesting. On a whim, I got some LM358s a few months ago for my partner and I to play around with -- I never expected that there would be an op amp lab on a test, but I thought that at least having played with the physical components would help us understand the theory better. As it turns out, this ended up helping us greatly. Although it likely would have been fine if we'd never actually used op amps before, having played with physical op amps probably made us a bit faster at actually assembling the circuit. I was a bit confused about which resistor values to put on the schematics before I saw the bag of resistors. We probably should have gotten more practice speed-reading resistor codes, because we didn't have like 10 seconds to spare on each one. Luckily, it didn't take us terribly long to find good resistor values, but if we had so much as looked through the resistors in a different order, it's likely it would have taken us too long and we might not have finished. As it was, our op amplifier circuit didn't end up working -- we thought we'd made a non-inverting amplifier with something like a 5.8k and a 1.5k (I forget the actual values), but it drove the output to the positive rail; switching out resistors to other similar values also kept the output on the positive rail. Maybe we misread resistor values; maybe we got a bad op amp or burned out resistors; maybe we set up the circuit wrong or misread the LM741 pinout or something. In any case, I suspect we got close to full points there because it was only the measured value that was off.

We thought it was a surprise to get first. After the test, there were a few problems (particularly tiebreakers) that we were kicking ourselves for not finishing in time. Perhaps that's indicative of a well-composed test, where the teams at the top still have things on the test that they don't think they did well enough on. (Alternatively, maybe it speaks to our inability to judge whether we did well or poorly on a test, since we didn't do any practice invitational tests where we compared ourselves to other teams on the score distribution; also, I picked up Circuit Lab for states, so my partner and I only had one opportunity to compare ourselves to other teams.)

Out of curiosity, how many points was the test out of and how did the top teams score? Were scores close between top teams or were they more spread out? What was a bigger factor differentiating teams -- the multiple choice, free response, or lab?
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Re: Nationals Event Discussion

Post by Andromeda215 » June 5th, 2019, 8:23 pm

(disclaimer, I did not do all these events. I asked a few team members to add stuff to my OG review)
Anatomy & Physiology: This test was a serious time crunch. There were definitely some difficult questions, but overall, I'd say most teams would probably have more problems with finishing than anything. My partner and I have practiced a lot with time, and how to finish a lot of tests really quickly, but even we were scrambling and didn't finish one of the stations. Everything was set up pretty well, and there weren't many issues regarding how to split tests or incorrect numbering, so that was nice. I think more physiology and case studies as opposed to anatomy and ID would have been good. Overall though, I'm pretty happy with how this one turned out, because it was our first top 5 at nationals. 8/10
Designer Genes: This test was the perfect length in my opinion, and both the multiple choice and FRQs forced you to think critically, as opposed to some memorization based tests, which I thought was appropriate and interesting. I agree with some of the previous comments, more molecular biology would have been good. However, I hope that this event supervisor comes back next year. I also took her MIT test, and I like her test writing style a lot. Overall, I was surprised that we did reasonably well on this event, seeing as I got a new partner just 2 weeks beforehand. 9/10
Disease: I agree with most of what's been already said about the event. My partner and I practiced with a lot of past national tests, so it felt a bit shorter than usual (although trying to take it on those tiny desks made it more time consuming). I think it was run well, but could have used more free-response. 7/10
Thermodynamics: Guy was pretty nice, and seemed knowledgeable about the event, which was a breath of fresh air. The test was hard, but I didn't find it as difficult as any of the MITs. The test was written pretty well, I think we just weren't as prepared for it, so that's a rip. Device testing went perfectly pretty much, so no complaints there. Overall, I hoped to do well on this event since it was one of my favorites, but I don't think my partner and I prepared enough for it. 9/10
Protein Modeling: Kind of surprised with how this one turned out, but I just didn't prepare enough for this event I think. I still don't really know what went wrong in terms of our results, since the judges really liked our pre-build apparently. I heard from a partner that the onsite was really difficult. Another partner and I worked on the test, and we were pretty much in agreement with most of the answers, so I thought the written test portion went alright. I could be totally wrong. I guess thats just how the cookie crumbles. I think the test was well written, but was a bit short. 7/10
Circuit Lab: The test was really fun, but there was not a lot of time for us. I think it was definitely an appropriate difficulty, though. The lab portion was interesting too, but I just didn't have enough experience with the given components. If we didn't have to make a new binder the weeks before competition, we may have done better though. The judges were really good-humored and friendly. 9/10
Dynamic Planet: ngl lie I was put on the event two weeks before competition, but it was interesting enough. I enjoyed how much thinking you had to do for the test, there was an appropriate balance of identification and actual analysis. It seemed a little easy though, as even I knew how to do most of the questions The judges were friendly, though. 7/10
Experimental Design: exp d is exp d. Pretty well run, though, as organized as it gets. 8/10
Geomapping: so fun story they set up rotation system to look at maps except a team went to the wrong station (which was where I was supposed to be at), so I went to the wrong station, and one of the judges got angry and glared at me for a while. Otherwise, it was pretty well-run, the only thing is that it was sometimes hard to get to the stations and back to the table in a timely manner. 8/10
Astronomy: really hard test, but well-run, also the judges were good-humored. The intro was casual, but when the event was running the remained professional, which was nice. Fun story someone got mad at us for having a sans black hole meme on our binder. 9/10
Water Quality: unfortunately it seemed like a really easy test. Otherwise, the judges were professional. However, it took them like 5 minutes to to come up with an answer to a clarifying question about the test I had, which was unfortunate. 7/10

Dorms: We got Bauer Hall, which I thought was nice enough. There were like 8 guys to one male bathroom tho 8/10
Food: 9/10 especially in terms of number of options. The potatoes were pretty nice
Overall experience: this was my first nationals, so I don't really have much to compare it to. Some of the tests were a bit easier than invites, namely MIT. The campus was gorgeous, and there was definitely a lot to do, though I'm not sure most people decided to participate. I'm glad there was that option though. And I'd have to agree with the person who said that it's not that this nationals competition is like an invite, its just that most national-level invites are designed to simulate a nationals experience.
Last edited by Andromeda215 on June 7th, 2019, 3:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
2020 Events: A&P, DG, Protein, DD, Chemistry Laboratory :D

MIT/GGSO
A&P 10 /3
DG 6 /8
Protein 1 /4

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