Jonathon Kuo

Jonathon: Science Enthusiasm and the Summer Palace

Jonathon Kuo of the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics shares stories from his trip to China this month for the Beijing Youth Science Creation Competition. Jonathon was part of the delegation for the North Carolina International Science Challenge.

Presentations and a View

The morning was spent sharing my research project with other students as well as adults affiliated with the competition. The enthusiasm for science was truly inspiring, and I was impressed by the amount of effort people would give in order to try to understand the details of my project. Even people that spoke very little English took the time to discuss my project and its implications. Perhaps the most fun part of this time was learning about the projects of other students. One of the Chinese participants developed a chemistry project that I found to be immensely interesting, and I think its impacts could be huge. After acquiring her contact information, I look forward to communicating with her and seeing if I have the opportunity to learn even more about her project. The day was filled with interactions like these, and I am glad to have the ability to communicate with these people as I move through my research career.

The afternoon was filled with touring of the UCAS campus. We climbed a tower that gave us a view of the entire district of Huairou; the skies were incredibly clear for smoggy Beijing, and the scenery was amazing. The day was capped with a ceremony in which Holly was awarded a Special Award! It was a great way to end a fantastic day.

Public Day

Public Day was one of the most hectic experiences I have ever had. I presented to people of all ages, from small children to elderly individuals. Not only that, but the level of knowledge in chemistry varied vastly as well. This made the day an interesting adventure because every presentation was different. One of my favorite interactions was with a particular family that was intensely interested in my project. The mother was a chemist and was intent on passing along her enthusiasm for chemistry to her young son. She asked questions that really made me think about the project in a different way, and she seemed to appreciate the chemistry behind the mechanisms of my research. After they requested to take a photograph with me, I realized that interactions like these were the real purpose of the day. We were there to show people that science and scientific research are not only important, but also accessible, interesting, and fun. Sharing enthusiasm for science is something that I love to do, so Public Day was an amazing experience.

Finally, the awards ceremony that night was exciting as Holly, Nimit, and Rohan all achieved first place in their respective categories, and Team USA went three for three!

Our Day of Tourism and Final Thoughts

As we toured the Summer Palace, I couldn’t help but marvel at the extravagance and beauty of the place. To be able to learn more about Chinese culture through this experience at the Palace was incredible. After a delicious lunch, we headed to the Silk Market where we were able buy souvenirs and gifts. Holly, Nimit, Rohan, and I had a fun and difficult time bartering. It took us a while to learn the best techniques that resulted in the lowest prices, but by the end, I think we got it down pretty well. I was glad that we had this opportunity to have this day to be tourists and experience China outside of UCAS.

After packing and preparing for the journey home, I did a lot of thinking about all of the memories and friends that I have made. I am glad to have met Jeremy, Iris, and Sherleen (our translators), and I look forward to keeping in touch with them in the future. Also, I am so happy to have met so many students from across the world as enthusiastic about science as I am. As a whole, the trip was an incredible experience, and one that I will not soon forget.