This past week, I had the wonderful honor of being asked to act as a judge for the science fair at the Gooden Middle School (a small private middle school in Sierra Madre close to Caltech). I went along with Richard, a grad student at Tech studying Physics (black holes!) who was the other judge.
Never in my life would I ever think that I would ever be qualified to act to be a judge for a science fair for any kind, so I jumped at the chance when asked….and let’s just say I was so happy that I did! We judged all the science projects of 6th, 7th and 8th graders over 2 days…each student giving a short presentation of their experiment and results in front of their poster-board and answering questions Richard and I had for them.
Projects ranged from life science to some physical science topics. Some topics: “The Effects of Antioxidants” “Does Music Help Your Memory?” “How Tornadoes Breathe” “Are Fingerprints Genetic”, etc, etc…there were a TON of different topics, and even more enthusiasm about science…and I can’t even begin to explain how undeniably CUTE a 6th grader talking about the movement of electrons is…(waaay too cute!)
The judging sheets were based on a rubric with a total score of 48, broken down into 3 different areas: Scientific Procedure, Originality and Simplicity. We also gave written comments on their presentation skills, ability to answer questions and how they could improve. Though we made some notes while they presented..the main time to judge was after the students left and we were left alone to go over each project more closely.
I had a blast, and it was really heartwarming to have seen middle school students and their interest in science. They did so well and I was impressed by the amount of understanding and enthusiasm they had—and was inspired by such young bright minds. As I watched them present, I thought about myself and how young I was when I first found science to be exciting and almost magical…I only hope that their desire to learn and question the world around them continues for years to come.
Almost a year ago now, I was just about to start my first Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) at JPL. NASA had sent out an email to all of their summer interns containing a social media template to announce that we had been selected as NASA interns. Excited to show my NASA pride, I posted it on my Instagram story, unaware of what would come out of this small action.
Hey hey! We’re starting a series where I walk you through my best finds for food and drinks in the Pasadena region, and in the LA metropolitan area. Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, if you will (although, for copyright reasons we can’t call it that). As you explore your college options, I firmly believe that food and location are more important than your high school guidance counselor may lead you to believe. And I’m here to share my best finds from my time at Caltech with you.
Over the past several months, I have had the opportunity to intern at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) under the mentorship of senior research technologist Dr. Xiaoqing Pi. Dr. Pi’s guidance and mentorship has been instrumental to the development and success of my internship at JPL, where I use machine-learning to enhance the accuracy and integrity of navigation and communication signals. In addition to helping me develop an understanding of atmospheric and ionospheric remote sensing and machine-learning, Dr. Pi has often offered his insights on how to improve my researching skills. Dr. Pi was generous enough to take the time to answer a few questions regarding his research and advice for future student interns. I believe many students can benefit from some of the lessons that he has taught me:
The transition period to remote learning was a very uncertain time, especially for research and the Caltech Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) program. Many hands-on projects had to pivot at the last minute to facilitate off-campus contributions. However, many Techers were able to take advantage of the research opportunities offered at Caltech and JPL to make the best out of remote learning and research. To paint a picture, I’ve interviewed a few talented Techers for some insight on what researching from home looks like for them.