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Whirlwind week

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 student participants on the trip. Editor’s note: The Burroughs Wellcome Fund supports EducationNC.

Today, we had our last breakfast in Beijing at the hotel, which, again, was delicious.

Then, we rode the van to the Pearl Market, which, like its name suggests, has SO many variations of pearls. It also has embroidery, fabric, tech accessories, and more. Elizabeth, Marti, and I found an amazing and kind pearl vendor who offered extremely cheap prices (especially with the conversion) for real pearls. I picked up several pairs of pearl studs, pearl dangle earrings, and a jade necklace. From the other vendors, I practiced my bargaining skills and bought two cashmere scarves (as gifts for family).

A picture taken from a Starbucks inside the Pearl Market – I thought it was interesting that even the corporate stores are customized for specific cultures.


Then, it was time to go to the airport. We quickly went through customs and security and had time to grab food and talk and rest at the gate. We boarded the flight, and we officially departed from China (until August, when I visit again with my family). The flight took-off around 5:30 PM, and we landed in Detroit around 5:30 PM on the same day (hence, explaining why today is the never-ending Friday).

After indulging in American fried food (Chick Fila), we soon boarded our short flight back to RDU.

It’s been a whirlwind of a week, and I have learned so much more about Chinese culture and Beijing than I thought was possible. Again, I am grateful for this experience and the opportunity to compete in China, and I couldn’t have chosen a better group to do this with.

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.”