My Passion for Science

To me, there are two kinds of passion for science: born or bred. My parents are both PhDs in chemical engineering (you can imagine the nerdy environment I’m surrounded by) so to be perfectly frank, I inevitably wound up with a born affinity for science. Perhaps my first exposure to the inquisition and curiosity involved in this field (aside from my mineral growing and solar machine kits as a child) were the times when my father found daycare overrated and chose to bring me to sit in on his lectures on chemical engineering at Lehigh University. Now, with no claims to being a child prodigy as I had not a clue what he was referring to when he mentioned “thermodynamic control systems”, I found myself nonetheless in awe at the applications of these seemingly confounding functions and diagrams in everyday life and how they had the power to impact millions of lives. From there, my appreciation and curiosity for science truly blossomed.

Of course as a child, my top priorities were dancing, frolicking with friends, and watching Spongebob whenever feasible. But as this new spark of science began working its way into my life, I began finding myself looking over my father’s shoulder as he graded engineering exams, frequenting his lectures (which I still barely understood), and doodling diagrams of organs in the body in my spare time…I found myself asking more questions about the “Why” instead of merely the “What”. I began participating in science summer camps rather than daycare, and I adored it! Surely enough, along came fifth and sixth grade, where I began to use school as a conduit for science and competed in STEM design challenges as well as computer fairs. I began fiddling with computers and coding and discovered that, surprise surprise, the applications of computers extended beyond solely the incredible realms of CoolMath Games and Webkins :).

I also believe another major inspiration in developing my passion for science was my sixth grade instructor. His method of teaching, in which students were encouraged to argue test answers allowed me to challenge myself. In other words, I took on this eager mentality where I was never satisfied in class until I asked a question the instructor did not have an answer to. This inquisition manifested itself merely as game for me at the time, but it also proved an invaluable way for me to grow deeper level of thinking beyond memorizing pages of a textbook.

Now, quite sooner than I’d hoped, seventh and eighth grade rolled around, reigning in with them more responsibilities, less Spongebob TV time, but also introducing me to the intriguing world of “Science Fair”. I’d never had any experience conducting formal experimentation, but because I’d heard my mother and father discussing their research at the dinner table, I found myself immediately drawn to the idea of using “high tech gadgets” to learn about complex scientific concepts. In a sense, I translated my love for science from passive to active, and in my first year of science fair I applied my infatuation for cardiovascular mechanisms to develop a project studying the effects of antioxidants on oxidation in arteries as a preventative measure against atherosclerosis.

From there, the scientific outlets I took advantage of skyrocketed. I competed in ExploraVision, where a group and I wrote an 11 page paper on a visionary biomedical nanorobot that could one day destroy beta amyloid plaques to relieve Alzheimer’s symptoms. I organized a STEMM outreach program to teach inner city children about science with interactive activities, and a group of students including myself planned a STEMM exposition at my local middle school .

This academic year, I further expanded my affinity for cardiovascular systems and studied the vonWillebrand Factor in my research which allowed me to have the privilege of competing at the INTEL fair and brought me to where I am today. Of course, I still adore dancing, boxing, painting, goofing around, and watching the occasional SpongeBob, but now I can walk away from my father’s lectures understanding perhaps half — no, just less than half — of what he was talking about :).

— Prathysha K., Pennsylvania


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