We left for Beijing today earlier in the morning. We flew to Chicago where I happened to meet Xuting Wang, a scientist in the lab I worked in, who was also going to China! After four movies and a couple meals, we were in Beijing. We drove to our campus and settled in. There was a grand buffet that we thoroughly enjoyed. Before I went to bed, I practiced my presentation a couple times.
Today was a very exciting but long day. I woke up at 5:00am and was ready downstairs by 6:00am. For breakfast, I had a few boiled eggs, fried bread, rice, vegetable pickle, and soybean milk. We then discussed the plan for the day among ourselves and headed to the convention center. After the eight minute walk, we arrived and received the posters. I then, with the help of Dory and some double-sided tape, put up my poster and was ready to present.
The competition aspect of this trip took place today. There were three rounds of judging. The first round, the medical group had one judge. This particular judge was very interesting to present to as she did not know much English. I presented the best I could and continued on. Throughout rounds two and three several more judges passed by to listen to our work – their English getting progressively better and better. As the day went on I felt more comfortable.
I explored the work of some other students and was amazed by what I saw. There were early middle school students building robots, students developing better masks for firefighters, people that were 3-D printing scaffolding from cells to aid the liver in regeneration and several other projects that were truly amazing. After the judging period, we went back and had lunch. I had rice, duck, chicken, boiled spinach, pickled vegetables, and watermelon. After this we went back for another three hours of judging.
At this point, we were exhausted. We made it back to where we are staying and sat down for dinner. I just ate rice for dinner and went to bed at 8:00pm. Today was amazing, but I am glad I was able to get some rest.
Today was an amazing experience. After the daily routine of getting up, eating breakfast, and preparing to head over to the gymnasium, we had the opportunity to present to the public. This was a absolutely packed stadium with students of all ages, and yes, I mean ALL (four year olds to post docs) ready to absorb whatever science they could interpret. It became so crowded with people that wanted to be engaged, that the announcers had to ask people to leave in order to combat crowding. This did not stop the knowledge thirsty public. After several announcements they opened the doors letting frigid air inside to help subside the crowd. In addition to the public, there were newscasters and reporters from the news who attended and filmed some of the students’ research. It amazes me how much curiosity, excitement, and support science has in China. They treat science like an athletics department here. After countless hours of presenting, we ate lunch and returned to the stadium for student workshops. Here we made aloe vera from scratch and understood all the details that take place in this process. We also experienced 3D printing of porcelain – which the Chinese are taking advantage of in their museums.
After all these adventures, it was time for the first session of the awards ceremony. This section was mainly for the Chinese students. Throughout the awards sessions there were little cultural breaks. These breaks included dancing and Kung Fu (which I took a part of). Although it was very long, and naps might have happened, Ana Sofia won equivalent of $500 for an innovation prize! After the awards session we went to our rooms, changed and had a tea party. This tea party eventually led us to the lobby where we were playing an assortment of games with students from all around the world.
Today started with the daily routine followed by the second part of the awards ceremony. Today recognized more international students. As the awards progressed both Ana Sofia and Raymond received silver medals in their respective categories and Dory and I received first. I am so glad we were able to not only enjoy, learn and gain experience on this trip, but also bring back some hardware for the land of the free. We took several pictures that will be posted soon! After the awards session concluded, we came back to campus for a quick lunch and change so we could adventure the Great Wall. It was about a 45 minute bus ride from our place and once we arrived, we took a quick shuttle and a cable car up to the wall. We trekked the uneven terrain of the wall and speculated how the soldiers were able to move with all their armor and supplies. We had several science related discussions about the wall in order to keep us distracted from the lactic acid building up in our legs. After a couple hours we made it to where we set out to go. We were greeted by some flurries, and it was a breathtaking sight. We took several pictures, including prom pictures, to make up for the NCSSM students who missed it for this trip. After the trek back, and the long descent (we did not take the cable cars down), we finally made it back. Needless to say I was not awake for very long on that bus ride. We came back, had dinner and I was lights out.
As I venture to college I plan on taking two main traits with me – humility and thankfulness. I have found through the relatively few years I have been alive, that being humble and thankful is very key in becoming successful. People respect those who make things happen, but do not feel the need to flaunt their accomplishments. In addition, ALWAYS be thankful. Without the support and connections of others I would be nowhere. A simple thanks or compliment goes a long way.