JeniferJenifer Brown is a 17 year-old senior at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM). As a 2010 NanoBusiness TALENT Fellow, Jenifer spent 8 weeks during the summer interning at Appealing Products. She was also one of four NC students to travel to Argonne National Laboratory to study nanotechnology for one week. In 2010, she was named Associate Member of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Sigma Xi chapter. In 2010, Jenifer won first place in Advanced Biological Sciences at the 2010 North Carolina Junior Academy of Science meeting. As a result, she traveled to Washington, D.C. in February of 2011 to represent North Carolina at the annual American Junior Academy of Sciences convention. She was also named a Siemens Science, Math & Technology Competition National Semifinalist. At school, Jenifer is a treasurer of NIA: Ladies with a Purpose, and HOPE, an African-American cultural club. She is a Chemistry Teaching Assistant, plays soccer and basketball, and enjoys many types of dance. She is an avid YouTube fan and looks forward to what the future holds. Her mentors are Dr. AJ Attar of Appealing Products, and Dr. Myra Halpin of NCSSM.

Jenifer’s updates from Beijing:

Sunday, March 27, 2011
Now I can officially say that I have been to and climbed the Great Wall of China! Yes, today we went to the Great Wall of China, but since that cam later in the day, I’ll talk about it later in the blog. This morning, though, we had the second half of the closing ceremony. As always, there were lots of lights and important people. The foreign students received recognition, and they announced the top students in the competition. I am very touched by how much the Chinese have given us in this experience. Although we did not compete against the Chinese students, we were still given medals, and we received a very special gift for attending the competition. This was our last day at Dyuda Middle School (which is actually a high school in American terms) and I can say that I will miss those Chinese friends that I made even though I only knew them briefly. A few that I talked to said that they were applying to U.S. universities, so maybe I will see them in the future.

After lunch at the school (which was amazing, as usual), we got ready to go to the Great Wall! As we drove to the entrance point, I could make out, here and there, little bits of the wall. From that vantage point, it looked majestic, but not yet huge. However, when I took my first steps on the wall, it seemed nearly impossible to make it to the top. First of all, the incline was ridiculous! I’m talking about 30-35 degree angles in some spots! The stairs were steep as well, and they were also uneven. We had to take several breaks along the way but I can say that I made it to the highest point in that area. At the beginning, I thought it would kind of easy because, you know, I work out and I’m an athlete. In reality, it was much, much harder than you would think. I’m amazed that people built such a great structure on such difficult terrain. The fact that it is still standing attests to its architectural value. I also could not imagine people fighting on the wall. It would be so difficult to climb up and down to get from one area to another, but I guess people had to do it.

After we left the Great Wall, we went back to the hotel. The Australians, who are so funny and lively, organized a bowling match. The thing is, we all had to dress up in our bathrobes or something crazy. Although homework was calling my name, I decided to go. It turned out to be a blast! Italy, Korea, Japan, Australia, and Ukraine all came to the bowling alley to play. Although I was the only one from the U.S., I had a great time interacting with the other students and getting to know them. I’m proud to say that I got a strike! Besides that, I think it’s very important to interact with the other foreign students because that’s how we learn about other cultures and countries. I think this element is essential to creating a global scientific community and global unity. I really enjoyed tonight, an I hope I have more opportunities in the future to interact with foreign students.

Saturday, March 26, 2011
Today was a very busy day! We had to do a lot of stuff for the competition. We spent probably a total of 7 hours in the exhibit hall! We had to present our projects to the public and some of the other exhibitors. There were also a few important people in the crowd. The leader of the Beijing Association of Science and Technology came to my poster and we talked about my project. Essentially, being in the exhibit hall entailed doing two things: presenting my project and taking pictures, lots of pictures! At the school we had lunch, which was delicious! I’m amazed by how good the food is at this school. It is so much better than at my home school.

After presenting our projects, we attended the first part of the closing ceremony. As always, there was a lot of ceremony, and there was good entertainment too! There were about 5 dances performed by various students, some from Dyuda Middle School and some from other schools in Beijing. I got the chance to participate in the dance where a drum is used as a dancing tool. I went up on stage and I had to learn the dance steps and then I performed in front of the audience, along with some of the other students from other countries. It was so much fun to learn about Chinese culture, especially through something as fun as dance. As a gift, I was able to keep the drum, so I’ll have to figure out some way to fit the drum on the plane!

After seeing some students win prizes like robot kits and money, it was time to leave. I was very tired by the end of the day because we had been standing on our feet for a long time! After reflecting on today’s events, I’m very inspired by how much people in China honor their students for doing well in science. In North Carolina, the award ceremonies for science fairs aren’t nearly as exciting as those in Beijing. It was cool to see how much these students enjoy what they are doing and how excited they are to share their work with others.

Friday, March 25, 2011
Whew! Today was another very eventful day! But first, let me tell you about my first impressions of Beijing. When I left from the airport via the bus provided for us, I was amazed at how spread out, neat, and clean everything was. It seemed like the trees at the sides of the road were in perfect rows, and there was not a spec of dirt or piece of litter on any of the streets. Also, the place seemed huge. The absence of full, leafy trees on the highway made the place seem a lot bigger. In North Carolina, trees hug the interstate, preventing passengers from seeing the buildings and houses the hide behind them. Here, you can see everything.

It seems like Beijing is very spread out whereas a place like New York is very compact. Many of the tall buildings are apartments (there are lots of apartments) but you don’t really see blocks or rows of city like in New York. There is a lot of space between buildings.

What I like most is that the city is very walker/driver friendly. There are lanes on the side of the road for people to walk and there are a lot of pedestrian bridges along the roads. There are always people walking or biking on the street.

So that was my first impression! Now, I’ll talk a bit more about what we actually did today. After breakfast, we went to Dyuda Middle School (a type of high school in American terms.) While there, we met with some of the students and got a tour around the school. The Chinese students were very welcoming and nice. They were also very enthusiastic and eager to talk to us. Dyuda Middle School is very nice. It’s a very large building and there are about 5 floors of classrooms in just one building. The Chinese students wrok very hard; we asked them how many classes they take a day, and they said 5 classes in the morning, 4 in the afternoon, and 3 in the evening. That’s a lot! Also, some students live on campus, just like my school.

We had a very nice opening ceremony where the important people from the various associations that run BYSCC were in attendance. There was a lot of ceremony and a lot of enthusiasm. There were songs and funs lights. We then presented our projects to the students. This is where the fun happens!

Many of the students were very, very eager to take pictures with me! It was so cute. The girls would come up with their mobile phones and ask, one after the other, to take a picture with me. I also snapped a few pictures with them. After we left this part, I was very tired. We went back to the hotel, and I just rested. I am really enjoying my trip, though, and I can’t wait for what the future brings.

Thursday, March 24, 2011
We’re in China! I am so excited for this trip! Let me start off by saying that my name is Jenifer and I’m a senior at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. I love research and have a passion for chemistry. My project focused on modifying cotton fabric so that it can be used as an oil absorbent material.

Now back to the fun stuff! So today was our first full day in Beijing. On Wednesday it was very hard to stay up after our 13+ hour flight, but somehow I made it to 9:30 p.m. Today we had breakfast and went to Jietai Temple, which was very beautiful. However, it was verrrry cold outside (and windy) and my toes were freezing! We saw the temples at which monks used to worship and we saw 1300-year old pine trees. The artwork in the temple was amazing; there were many figurines and Buddhas and tapestries. Although the temple was built around 582-600, it did not look that old. After this, we had lunch at our hotel. Angela, Ryan, Melissa, and I like to play a word game named “Contact,” where you have to guess a word that someone is thinking of by guessing somebody else’s word.

We then went to the middle school where we will be displaying our posters. I have never seen a school like that one before. From the front, you might not expect much, but when you get past the front gates there is a huge open space for recreation, 3 big buildings for classes and gymnasium, and 2 dormitories. After we put up out projects we got to walk around and see other people’s projects. Although, I can’t read/speak Chinese, Melissa was able to translate the Chinese posters for me. They were really nice visually and the students ideas behind the projects were really creative. It makes me wish that we had done science fair projects when I was in middle school.

I also was able to hear about some of the projects that the international students were doing. I really liked the Singaporean project, which was a lock-system that prevented people from breaking in doors using a credit card. Speaking of international people, the students from the other countries are really cool and nice. I am a roommate with a girl from Denmark. We have also made really good friends with the Australian delegation. Tonight Australia, Italy, Denmark, and the USA all went to the entertainment center at the hotel and bowled. All the teams were mixed so we really got to interact with everyone. It was so much fun, and we even go free tokens to play in the arcade! Although I’m really tired from today’s events, it has been very exciting. I will tell you more about my first impressions of Beijing tomorrow. It’s getting kind of late and I need my beauty sleep :D. I am very excited for tomorrow though; we will be presenting our projects! I hope you have enjoyed reading about my experience so far!