Write It, Do It (WIDI)

a.k.a why’d I do it. jk, love this event ❤️‍🔥

How to be the Best at a Speedwriting and Speedbuilding Team Bonding Exercise

Course content was made from ScioVirtual WIDI faculty, including:
Victoria Li, Science Olympiad top 10 national competitor in WIDI. Victoria has taught Crime Busters and Disease Detectives at ScioVirtual.
Ankita Kundu, Science Olympiad top 10 national competitor in WIDI. Ankita taught forensics and supervises teacher training and curriculum development at ScioVirtual.


Inquiry events are really in another league of their own. I’m not really sure who had the idea to start them (and actually have more inquiry events than some other categories, like chem :(for instance), but they’ve definitely bored the brunt of many jokes from Scioly competitors for quite a while, as evident by the topic of MIT 2020’s LMMM (Lean Mean Meme Machine) trial event competition.

However, as they are weighted the same as other events, it’s still important to do well in them. Bombing any event is incredibly detrimental to the team, so don’t overlook something that sounds like it came straight out of preschool teachers’ curriculum plan like WIDI, which in its defense, is still more legit than Game On (something my teammates would not agree with).

Like all inquiry events, WIDI requires practice instead of studying to succeed. Not like you could exactly study for the event anyway. In WIDI, it’s important to build rapport and mutual understanding with a partner. For example, if your partner mixes up left and right while writing and you can’t read carefully while building but because of your 💪 strong 🌟connection🌟, you manage to cancel each other out and make it work.

Read the Rules

For those just getting into the event, here’s a guide for where to start.

Write It, Do It involves 2 people. One writer and one doer (not builder since that’s an insult to actual builders, not to mention just confusing). This is the only event where the partners do not compete together. The writer gets 25 minutes to write instructions on how to build an abstract structure (meaning it’s unconventional, like a bunch of random objects stuck in a styrofoam hemisphere or a piece of paper that someone took a pen and went crazy on). The builder then has 20 minutes to read the instructions and recreate the structure. They are scored on a rubric with time being the tiebreaker.

Now, this may sound easy, but there’s a reason you’ll see quite a few of the top teams get pretty consistent medals across the board and then bomb WIDI. 1) It’s not exactly a skill set people practice. Like you can’t show off how good you are at reading instructions on how to stick pieces of lego together like you can your superior bird ID skills. And if this event guide sounds like it has a lot of unnecessary sarcastic comments intertwined into it, it’s because it does and also because I was watching stand-up comedy while writing this. (Check out Dry Bar on Youtube guys, it’s awesome) And 2) it may seem simple to just describe a structure while you’re looking at it, but there are a lot of details that must be mentioned in order for someone to perfectly jab a pencil into an eraser at just the right angle. 3) If event proctors aren’t careful, someone may knock down an unstable widi model, If the doer isn’t careful, they may end up building an unstable WIDI model, which falls apart after they finish building but before the graders start grading, sabotaging their team’s score. This shouldn’t happen though, considering the fact that ES-es take pictures of unstable models, if any.


Now, if you are the writer, you could arguably carry the event. If your writing is just that good, no matter how bad your partner’s reading comprehension is, you guys should do reasonably well (unless you failed to understand the first step, like me (different me this time)). Now of course you’ll place higher if you and your partner have good rapport and a predetermined system where you can write less to explain more.

Tip: Think fast. Write fast. You’ll get this with practice, the idea being if you are able to think quickly, you’ll know what you want to write, and all you’ll have to do is speedwrite your way to covering as much of the model as possible, giving your doer a chance to full score the test.

For physical structures (WIDI, so when it’s not on a program like Onshape, TinkerCAD, etc.), it’s good to have a system for certain components. For example, my partner and I designate the parts of a paperclip in different ways. There is the innermost small loop, the middle loop right below it and the big loop above. The way it is in the picture to the right is “standard position,” and the rods are named correspondingly to the loops.


For online structures (WICI), the tricky part is a lot of the time you’ll see something that you aren’t sure if it is just given to your partner like that or they have to put two pieces together. Always assume the latter, better safe than sorry.

When describing structures, never say something like “attach A to B so that it looks like a C.” That gives the builder almost no information. The distance, angle, attached part all have to be mentioned. For example, “Attach the cylinder by its flat circular side to the face of the pyramid that faces south so that the cylinder is half of its radius up from the base and right side of the pyramid face. The cylinder should be pointing southwest from left view. Yes I know, it’s very obnoxious to do that for every single piece. That’s why it’s important to practice with your partner so they get used to your writing style and so you can write things more concisely. Also, it is very important that you can either writeor type fast, and neatly as well. I hate to say it, but if your handwriting reflects your goal of becoming a doctor your partner is going to be very ticked during their 20 minutes with that piece of paper (like my handwriting is that bad, which is why I’m the doer). And if you type too slowly, then hopefully your partner reads at the same pace, or else they’ll have to spend time checking over the structure. This generally shouldn’t happen unless it was a bad WIDI or WICI. Most of the time neither the writer or doer finishes their part, although competitive teams tend to do so more often.

Example Description (WIDI)

Let’s take this image and see how one may go about describing it.


I would start with the objects that don’t have positional requirements and can be easily made on their own. Like the Legos as opposed to the triangle thing. When writing, always number your steps so it looks cleaner, it’s easier for your partner to find their place, and you can reference previous pieces without writing out the full description.

For the legos, I’ll be describing them with a grid system that was previously agreed upon.

1) Take the 16 by 4 black lego piece. (Numbers refer to number of nodules and writing 16 first indicates it’ll be held horizontally. Like x and y-axis)

2) Place the 8 by 2 blue piece so that (1,1) is on (6,2) of black piece

3) Place 4 by 2 red piece so (1,1) is on (3,1) of blue piece

4) Place 4 by 2 blue piece so perfectly aligned with red piece.

And so on, continuing until you have both lego structures built.

Now let’s place them.

5) (I’m just numbering it 5 to keep it less confusing even though I technically skipped a lot of steps) Place larger lego structure horizontally so the side of the black lego with fewer nodules visible is pointing towards 2:50. (Time is almost always from a bird’s eye view)

6) Place smaller lego piece so that (1,1) of 4 by 2 red piece is 2.5 inches behind (5,3) of black piece from larger lego structure (you’ll also need to be able to estimate inches and centimeters, I’d recommend setting a body part to be each amount. For example, my pinky nail is 1 cm).

7) Side where all legos align should be facing east. Tilt structure so it is pointing to 2:40

8) Loop rubberband across both structures. Should rest pretty relaxed, on (1,2) of 4 by 2 red piece of smaller lego structure and by touching (2,1) corner of 2nd 2 by 2 blue piece from larger

And that’s how you would describe placement

For all the other objects, just follow the same pattern, putting in only as much detail as necessary. But make sure to go over some of these systems with your partner first, like the grid one used for legos. See if you want to use this build for practice! This was one Ankita and I used when preparing for Nats.

Tip: Indent when writing! I know this sounds simple, but it’s really useful. Some beginner writers (and others) tend to write instructions, as if it was a shopping list, with one sentence per list number. However, this can get inflexible, and make it harder to read. Instead, split your writing into sections, and indent when needed to add subdetails. This is a useful way to stay organized. For instance, the above steps 1-4 can be one section, and the above steps 5-8 can be another section.


For Doers, you won’t get blamed, nor do you get the credit for a bad/good WIDI result. Unless you and your partner are just known to be a good(or bad) combination.

For Doers, there’s less you can do to do well in the event. Like no matter how lucky you are or how good you are at interpreting scribbles if your writer just decided to be deep that day and describe the structure like they’re in an advanced poetry class, you’re kinda screwed.

For us, we just gotta put in the effort to practice at least once with our writer and tell them about anything that’s unclear in their writing. Because almost no one is going to re-read their own writing to figure out what they need to improve on; this event does not induce people to put in that much effort. If you really think your partner is just that horrible at writing, step up and become the writer instead.

Just kidding! There’s actually more to doing than what’d non-doers think 😳 (Seriously, when I started WIDI I thought that doing was super easy and that anyone can do it; when I actually started doing I was 2x slower than the actual doer and 1.5x less accurate despite doing like a perfectionist, even though the actual doer is the perfectionist instead.)

The following sections include key ideas that doers should keep in mind, along with descriptions that explain them. Many of these sections should be kept in mind by writers, specifically by writing in an order that follows these ideas.

Temporary before Permanent

Whenever we build as WIDI doer, there are two types of changes we are making to our structures—temporary changes and permanent changes. Temporary changes (e.g., inserting a pushpin into a paper plate) are changes we can undo and edit in case we make a mistake. Permanent changes, however, cannot be changed, even if we make a mistake. This usually refers to writing in your structure, such as drawing with pens, markers, and Sharpies (and even pencils if you don’t have an eraser). This also refers to cutting items such as rubber bands and pipe cleaners, since you can’t uncut them if you need to use a different length.

It’s the ABC. Always be careful about permanent doing.

Use the utensil before you add it to the structure!

If you


Overall, WIDI can be kind of a hit or miss depending on your partner, like if they’re colorblind, or if they’re not colorblind but still can’t tell blue from purple or left from right. Do your best and just have fun with it. Getting to just sit down with a pile of K’nex after a grueling day of competition is incredibly relaxing. So enjoy!

The most important thing for this event is practice. It’s pretty easy to have someone grab a bunch of odd materials and stick them into a styrofoam hemisphere to make a practice build for you, but if you can’t meet in-person, here are 5 tests from SOINC that can be done online.

For more specific strategies, check out: