Posted on September 4, 2011 by Jack Andraka
My summer mentorship journey so far
So far my summer mentorship program has been going great and I've learned so much about science and my passion for science, engineering, technology, and math has swelled to greater proportions. The best part about the process so far has probably been bouncing ideas off of my mentor and beginning to think like a scientist. The most challenging part of my summer mentorship program has been having to think outside the box about innovations and how to test them. It was really challenging to begin thinking about innovations for this competition instead of the typical university research that I do for science fairs.
Access to my mentor has definitely been the most valuable asset that I was given because Dr. Ylitalo helped me think more like a scientist and helped me see what type of projects that this challenge expected. Throughout the challenge I had to use the most valuable tool to a scientist, which is the scientific method. I would say the part of the scientific method that I like the most would be research because without research you couldn't come up with any innovations and you would know nothing about your field of research. I like research because without it there would be no science or innovation and that would be a disaster. However research is probably the most frustrating part ever about science.
Over the course of the summer mentorship program Google has slowly become my best friend in term of research but also the frustrating part is finding that one key article or piece of information that will make everything make sense. You may know that it exists but it may be on the 58th page when you search some key words. The most rewarding part of the scientific method would probably be the conclusion or the experimenting because after all of that hard work it is finally paying off with some data and what's really cool is when you know that you are the first one to see the results, and that's what really makes science so cool and interesting. Another key aspect in a scientist is persistence because without it you will get no where.
At the beginning of the contest I was at a competitive math camp and once I came back and my mentor told me that my idea was not really what the competition was looking for I was a bit devastated and after a mini meltdown ensued I finally composed myself and then just started brainstorming and for a week all I created were ideas. I would have 15 ideas by the end of the day and then I would look at them and scratch out all of the bad ones and email a new batch off to Dr. Ylitalo. After about a week I finally stumbled on my current idea and after Dr. Ylitalo said she liked it I was ecstatic. I jumped around a bit but then got going and now I have finally concluded my experimentation and I'm preparing for the final event, which I'm so excited for. This just shows how critical persistence is.
Below is the link to my video on the first part of the scientific method CLIP0022
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