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The North Carolina International Science Challenge (NCISC) is a yearly North Carolina science competition hosted by North Carolina Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education Center (SMT Center) for high school students. The selected students travel to Beijing, China to present their science research projects at the Beijing Youth Science Creation Competition the third week of March. The competition requires students to undertake a research project, write an abstract explaining their research problem and present their research to a panel of scientists and engineers. The students selected spend a week in Beijing presenting their research, meeting students from other countries, and experiencing various cultural and scientific events. The NCISC is offered jointly by the SMT Center and the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center. This blog is from one of the students participating in the competition. Editor’s note: The Burroughs Wellcome Fund supports EducationNC.

After another jetlagged sleep, Elizabeth and I woke up at 5 this morning for the Duke vs. Kansas game. After two close halves and an overtime, Kansas sadly pulled out a win. Yet, I had to quickly recover from the loss and got dressed, and we headed downstairs for breakfast.

A picture of me, Serena, Marti, Caroline, Robin, and Dr. Nolan when they came to visit me during public viewing. Michelle Gan

From 8:30 to 12 a.m., the public came in to view our projects. I was surprised at how many younger Chinese high school and middle schools students were interested in my project and in practicing their English. There were many Chinese natives who were interested in American schooling and who wanted to take pictures with me after I shared my research with them.

After the public viewing and lunch, Elizabeth, Kevin, Ritvik, Alex, Jasper, and I walked to the nearby campus store. We picked up some classic Chinese snacks and goodies, including vanilla wafers, red bean crisp rolls, and tea. We also found an extremely modern and hipster coffee shop in the middle of the campus, which we are planning to take Marti to tomorrow (she’s been caffeine deprived).

Elizabeth and I outside of the main entrance to the competition. Michelle Gan

Once we returned to our rooms, I prepared briefly for my presentation for the research symposium. At the symposium, the audience consisted mostly of international delegates and local Chinese students. I presented my research first out of 11 students who presented, and it was an amazing experience being able to speak in front of such a large group and share. It was even more amazing to listen to the other students’ presentations. All student symposium presenters were required to present in English, and it was inspiring to be able to see students from Ukraine, China, Israel, and more, explaining their research in a non-native tongue.

We then took a bus to the West Campus, where interactive science displays were set up. We used 3D printing pens to design masks, but there were also stations with make-your-own catapults, robots, virtual reality, and more.

After a brief break, we had a quick dinner with the Australian delegation (including their supervisors) and learned more about Australian culture and politics. We went back and forth on the stereotypes that we had for each other, and we taught each other about respective slang, popular foods, shows, and other cultural aspects.

Then, at 7 PM, we attended the special awards ceremony. The setup for the ceremony was absolutely amazing, and I was impressed by all of the cultural presentations throughout the ceremony.

Now, it’s 10 PM, and it’s clear that we’ve had a busy day. It’s honestly strange that the competition is almost over, because it feels like we just got here. But, I am so excited to go to the Great Wall tomorrow and keep exploring Beijing.

Michelle Gan

Michelle Gan is a student at Enloe High School in Raleigh. She is originally from Cary. Gan’s project is titled: “Carbon Dioxide Dry Reforming Over Novel Pt Catalyst Created Using Unconventional Fabrication Method.”