Life we made it past our first competition,
Life is full of surprises. It’s easy to be excited, prepared and dedicated at the beginning of a project, but staying motivated and focused until the end is not, as surprises can occur when you least expect them. Such was the case during my first robotics competition, almost five years ago. As my first competition in my favorite field of interest with four of my best friends, everything seemed perfect in the beginning. The challenge was to design a robot that would autonomously accomplish tasks such as relocating objects and avoiding obstacles. Excited to start, we began prototyping our robot design and code right away. Our hard work in the beginning paid off- we made it past our first competition, placing among the top teams. Despite our initial effort and success, things started to go awry about 2 weeks before our next competition. Most obviously, our program was not efficient enough to compete at the next level. Furthermore, one of our robot’s swivel wheels broke, forcing us to revert to an unwieldy design. Upon losing the competition by just 3 places, I realized that our negligence had cost us a potential success, as we fell short in 2 critical aspects. First, we designed our schedule and plan with no room for error, and thus had no way to replace our broken swivel wheel in time for the next competition. In addition, once we needed to improve our program for the next competition, our already demanding schedule became unattainable and our motivation flickered out, resulting in less work being done, ultimately leading to a close failure in the end. Even today, I constantly remind myself of the lessons this failed endeavor has taught me. First, create a viable plan that accommodates for unexpected surprises that may hinder progress, no matter how confident one may feel at its conception. Second, keep confidence and motivation alive until the very end. Our failure to do so led to less improvement in our program, leading to our defeat. Lastly, and most importantly, embrace the outcome, whatever it may be. Something can be learned from any endeavor, no matter the outcome, so long as you are humble enough to reflect on your failures. Ever since I learned to speak, I would question everything. “Why does the moon sometimes appear during the day?” “Why do humans age?” One of the most important techniques taught in primary school was the scientific method, a logical and elegant method that captured my passion for asking questions and finding answers. Later, in middle school, I learned about the triple point. At the triple point, a substance can vaporize and freeze at the same time. I was surprised, and with the scientific method in mind, designed an experiment subjecting water to different temperatures and pressures to test the claim. I stood in awe as water simultaneously froze and boiled, an alien sight. This experiment is vividly etched into my memory because of how counterintuitive the results were. I became captivated with answering my questions through the scientific method, and I find the process of asking questions and pursuing their answers through experimentation fascinating and delightful. I harbor an interest for all of science, and the fields of physics and environmental science are especially fascinating to me. When I was in 7th grade, I was engrossed with a space flight simulator called Kerbal Space Program. In the simulation, the player designs and launches spacecraft and computes vital statistics to send these spacecraft to celestial bodies. The precision and magnitude required to accomplish these feats stimulated my interest in physics and its intriguing applications. Unlike Physics, my interest in environmental science came through more serious experiences. In past years, I have been concerned by the decaying state of the environment. From the accelerating retreat of glaciers in New Zealand to the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, to my younger brother developing asthma from heavy smog in Beijing, I have seen firsthand the detrimental effects of human activity on our environment. I would spend hours calculating the amount of limestone (CaCO3) needed to treat the SO2 waste produced by burning coal and looking for the aerosol with the greatest reflective capacity to combat global warming. However, the more I learn, the more complicated these issues seem to get. Limestone sponging only reduces the threat of Sulfuric Acid, not Carbonic Acid. Stratospheric aerosol injections can cause droughts and deplete the ozone layer. It is apparent that a deeper understanding of science and technology is necessary to finding viable solutions to many of the world’s pressing issues, an understanding that must be acquired through extensive research. From a young age, I have always wanted to be a scientist. I am excited to dedicate my summers, given the opportunity, to scientific research, to further practice the scientific method to answer complex questions, and to broaden my scientific interests, perhaps by encountering something as simple as an interesting simulation or as serious as the social cost of air pollution. Whatever my scientific focus may be in the future, I know I will passionately seek answers and solutions to the many questions and problems we collectively face, hopefully impacting society and improving people’s lives in the process. That’s a scientist’s job in my mind. The phrase “comparing apples and oranges” is often invoked when a comparison is made between two objects that are so different, that making a comparison would be invalid. However, I believe that comparing apples and oranges is no outlandish feat if you compare them through a variety of methods and perspectives.To a chemist or biologist, apples and oranges are remarkably different, with numerous tests yielding very distinct qualities. Chemical analyses disclose widely varying proportions of starch, fructose, and various other nutrients, and DNA sequencing reveals genomes that split over 89 million years ago. To a physicist or statistician, both fruit are comparable objects of similar measurable qualities. Their mean masses, circumferences, and shapes are comparable in value. Furthermore, a spectroscopic analysis reveals very similar transmission spectra. There are more perspectives to consider, and to garner a thorough understanding, it is imperative to consider all possible approaches; that is, your methods should be mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive.In short, when considering any inquiry, there are a diversity of justified, but different methods that can be taken to explore the matter. With this in mind, it is paramount for a person, especially one with a deep-set perspective, to consider a variety of different methods and viewpoints when pursuing a problem to acquire a comprehensive, objective understanding of an issue, whether it be comparing apples to oranges or pursuing answers through scientific inquiry.