Wednesday, December 19, 2012

whitman science magazine

Check out the newly published Whitman Science Magazine, a non-profit publication run by students at my high school. The magazine compiles student articles, pictures, and opinion pieces about current, topical issues in science and technology. We appreciate the funding from the student government that makes it possible to run a non-profit magazine.

In the first issue, you’ll find articles and pictures covering a variety of topics ranging from aeronautics to neuroscience. The cover picture may look like a psychedelic frog, but it's actually an MRI picture of my brain with the connections false colored based on their direction.

As a first time editor and graphic/web designer for a magazine, it was a huge task to create a new website and magazine from scratch. The importance of design and layout is often taken for granted. It's something that's only noticed when it looks bad. I'm so glad that everything is up and running now and I'm really proud of the final product.

I love exploring different areas of research and then writing about them to make science more interesting and accessible to my audience. I'm lucky to work with other students who are passionate about science. I know it's going to be a great year! Look for new issues every academic quarter.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

it's fun to be in the M-Y-A-C

In September, I was appointed to the Maryland Youth Advisory Council by the Speaker of the House, Michael Busch! Today was the third meeting and, so far, serving on the council has been such an incredible experience

The council consists of about 30 high school and college students. It was established by the state legislature to ensure that Maryland youth have a voice in the public policies and programs that affect our future. It's an amazing opportunity for me because I often see problems in my school and community and am frustrated when there's little I can do. This council allows me to actually effect meaningful change in such a direct way. For instance, today's meeting was in the Governor's Reception Room in Annapolis and we got to discuss with Governor Martin O'Malley himself! We talked to him about affordable post-secondary education and the quality of education in Maryland. It was exciting to be able to make suggestions directly to the governor.

During our break, O'Malley gave us a personal tour of his office and let us take pictures! Because he's awesome! And that's how I got the best picture in the world. That's right. I'm sitting at the governor's desk!!


Just casually lounging in the Governor's Reception Room...

... and taking pictures in the reflection of his name plate.

One of my favorite aspects to being part of the council is that everyone is so passionate about the issues in their areas. It's interesting to hear perspectives from all across the state. We've been discussing issues from every member's constituency and today we officially chose technology in schools as our legislative priority.

Can't wait for the next meeting!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

better than autopia

At my school, I'm younger than almost everyone else in 11th grade, sometimes by even more than a year. While they're all 16 or just turning 17, I'm still 15. But today was a very important day. A pivotal moment in my life, really. Today, not only am I 15... I'm 15 and 9 months! And that's even better than a birthday because it means that I'm finally old enough to get my learner's permit!!

I was so excited that I convinced my mom to take me to get it today after school! As we waited in line at the DMV, my anticipation was building and I was getting giddy. Once we finally reached the front of the line, they had to burst my bubble by telling us that we had an incorrect form. What we thought was my birth certificate was actually just my birth certificate registration that my parents had mistaken for my birth certificate for my whole life. Until now, the birth certificate registration had always been completely acceptable, so my parents never made the distinction. Man, they really make you work for your learner's permit.

We rushed back home to grab my passport and got to the DMV just before closing time at 4:30 pm, which I think is an insanely early closing time. From there, everything was easy. To be honest, my main concern was the picture. Passport and license pictures are always so much pressure. You have one shot to look decent and then that picture will be in your face for the next few years whether you like it or not. Luckily, the picture looked good! I filled out my information for the permit and went to take the law test on a computer. I wasn't too worried because I had read the driver's manual and taken some practice tests online. Almost all of the test questions were in the online practice tests word for word, so it was definitely helpful to study. It was also nice that the computer told me my score as I took the test so I knew that I was doing well and could stay calm.

I was literally jumping with excitement as we left the DMV with my permit. I've already gone driving in the neighborhood with my mom and learned how to do a 3-point turn!

Friday, October 19, 2012

on tour part 4: land of the wahoos

There was no school today so we drove down to visit the University of Virginia! On our way, we stopped for breakfast and I tried chocolate covered bacon for the first time. It also had mint chocolate drizzled on the top, so it was an interesting combination of savory, sweet, minty and lardy.

I liked the information session because the assistant dean of admissions was really funny and entertaining. He was saying, "In all of the college brochures, there are above average looking people of every race holding hands and singing Kumbaya," which is pretty accurate. He also talked a lot about how much they revere Thomas Jefferson at UVA.

Then, we went on the grounds tour, which I hate to say was very boring. It was supposed to last for an hour and a half, so we separated from the tour early and explored by ourselves. The campus was beautiful, with open grassy spaces and lots of trees changing colors.

We also found a tree with giant leaves, which made for a good photo op.


At the campus bookstore, Ella bought a UFO and comet ice tray. Definitely one of those things you never knew you needed. At least it's less gross than the brain shaped one!


Monday, September 17, 2012

on tour part 3: exploding balloons and metal tigers at p-town

My school has a good sized Jewish population, which means two good things for me: lots of bar and bat mitzvahs (I partied so much in middle school) and no school on Jewish holidays! Today, I had no school for Rosh Hashanah, so my family and I went on my third college tour to... Princeton University! We drove up to New Jersey last night, stayed at a hotel for the night, and then visited the university in the morning.


My mom had the idea to sit in on a class before the engineering tour and skip the general information session, since I had already gone to one in Maryland. I chose "CHM 207 Advanced General Chem: Materials" taught by Dr. Robert Cava. Coincidentally, it was the first class of the course, so I didn't miss anything! In fact, since it was the introduction to the course, I knew most of the information from what I have learned so far in AP Chemistry.

Here I am in the back of the auditorium before the class. If you were wondering, the seats were very comfy!


Here Dr. Cava is writing on the board before class. The blackboard was really cool. You can use a switch to send each panel of the blackboard up, so he has plenty of space to write!

Dr. Cava was so engaging and funny. He showed his college ID from his first semester freshman year, and then a picture from his second semester sophomore year. He had grown a scruffy beard and was wearing a tight shirt and sunglasses. It was hilarious, and my mom suspected that it was probably a picture from Halloween or something. He showed us a drawing of his "Legal Seafood Theory of Science." There were four fish of different sizes, with each bigger fish eating a smaller one. From smallest to biggest, the fish were labelled "materials," "components," "devices," and then "systems." He said that his case for why everyone should switch to a major in material chemistry is that without materials the whole ecosystem dies! I thought it was a cute analogy. :) Then, there was a demonstration. There were three balloons: the first was filled with helium (He), the second with hydrogen (H2) and the third with hydrogen and oxygen (2H2 + O2). His co-instructor lit each one on fire! The He balloon caught fire and popped, but the H2 balloon exploded really loudly, and the 2H2 + O2 balloon exploded even louder! We all had to cover our ears for the last two. Awesome explosions always make a class more interesting!

The class was in the Frick building, which was really pretty on the inside and the outside. The hanging lanterns and the glass ceiling sort of reminded me of the Gilman Hall that I saw on my tour of Hopkins.

After my first class in college, we went to the tour of the engineering school. The tour guide said that engineering students make up about 20% of the undergraduates. She talked about the different fields of engineering at Princeton and showed us through some labs.

Then, we walked around the campus a bit before going to lunch. There are a lot of cool statues and structures.

Here is a metallic statue of the Princeton mascot, a tiger.

There was this pretty fountain. Not sure what the animal heads on stakes are supposed to signify...

We also saw this statue. My mom and sister thought that it was an artistic representation of holding hands, but my dad disagreed. He said that it was an artistic representation of an eight. That's some deep artistic interpretation.

When we were outside of the campus for lunch, I had this picture taken of me, and was surprised to find that my visit to Princeton had transformed me into Albert Einstein! No way!!

After lunch, we went on the general tour of the campus. The campus was gorgeous. There were trees everywhere, and the architecture gave the college an old, rustic feel. As we walked around the buildings, our tour guide pointed out buildings or parts of buildings that were designed by the same people who designed the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. She also showed us the library, which she said had 7 million volumes. Strangely, she seemed to think it was a special treat that people could find library books on the shelves by themselves, instead of having a librarian do it for you.

Here are some pictures of the pretty buildings around the campus:

West College:

Nassau Hall:

East Pyne Hall:

She also talked about student life. Eating clubs are unique to Princeton and are a pretty significant aspect of student life. They're like dining halls and social houses. I remember that at the Princeton information session I went to, one of the alumni speakers raved on and on about his eating club. Sadly, we didn't get to see any housing on the tour. Our tour guide said that every house was so different that showing us one house would be pointless.

Speaking of eating, here's a cute picture from outside the cafe. Yay for the periodic table! I'm suspecting that the food there supplements your calcium and iron!

She mentioned that it is easy to get to either New York City or Philadelphia, and that Princeton was a really nice and safe town. Also, as an ice cream connoisseur, it intrigued me to find that there are six places for ice cream and frozen yogurt just on the road next to the campus! This tour guide knows what prospective students really care about! 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

detour to radiator springs

Just got back from California at 2 am this morning, Maryland time! I spent awhile having a reunion with my cat, Violet. I think she missed me because I'm the only one who pets her daily.

We left for California on the Thursday before last to visit my aunt, uncle, and cousins, Allison and Adam. Maryland seems to be plagued by badly timed thunderstorms this season. First, the derecho during the heat wave, and then a thunderstorm right before our flight! It was supposed to leave around 8 pm, but was delayed until after midnight! Luckily, we were able to switch flights and leave an hour earlier, which got us into California at around 2 am.

On Friday, we rested up and went to the beach with my cousins! We played in the water, which was ice cold, and then laid on the warm sand. We found a bunch of sand crabs, including two gigantic ones that were really frightening. Then, we played some volleyball. I was much better than I remembered being in middle school, but it still left a bunch of small marks on my forearms for a few days.

On Saturday, we went to the local farmer's market to buy groceries and eat lunch. It's one of my favorite places in California! Fruit is my favorite food, aside from desserts of course, and they have so much fresh fruit that you can't find in Maryland. One stand had 15 types of nectarines, plums, and pluots, and you could try samples of each one!

In the afternoon, we went to Sky Zone, an indoor trampoline park, for the first time. It was so much fun! I hadn't realized how tiring one hour of trampoline jumping could be! It was definitely a workout.

There were a bunch of trampoline pads, even on the walls (which I am bouncing off of in this first picture)...

 And a foam pit! It took me a while, but I mustered up the courage to do a flip!

On Sunday, we had a huge Chinese lunch with my extended family in San Gabriel, and then we all went to my great grandmother's house to hang out. At the end, we had a family photo shoot. 

Later that day, we went to a complex with some Japanese stores. First, we decided to check out a Japanese $1.50 store called Daiso Japan. Cute Japanese things for only $1.50!? It doesn't get much better than that. It was way cooler than any dollar store I've been to! They sell almost everything you could ever want and things you never knew you needed. I had to try really hard to control myself.

I got some bento boxes and grapefruit lip balm. Ella got bento boxes, silicon cupcake molds shaped like hearts and stars, origami paper, and many erasers (including food shaped erasers and an electric eraser, which I didn't even know existed). Now my mom's worried that we're expecting adorable bento lunches, like the ones below. I can't believe that moms put so much time and effort into lunches! I would feel bad eating it...

Totoro... (

... pandas... (

... and piggies! (

We also went to a Japanese grocery store next-door to Daiso, called Mitsuwa. My mom spotted this delicious looking drink... Yummy. Who wouldn't buy that? Maybe something's lost in the translation.

There were also some very large beer bottles and Pocky boxes in the drink section...

We spent all of Monday at Disney's California Adventure! I saw the new Cars Land for the first time. They had cool rock structures that you probably recognize from the Cars movie, or the southwest.

In Cars Land, we went on Luigi's Flying Tires, which was like bumper cars steered with your body! There were huge beach balls to throw around, so after we threw our first one, we spent most of the ride chasing them down and unsuccessfully trying to reach them...

We also went on the Radiator Springs Racers. It's one of my favorite rides in California Adventure now! It starts with a nice, peaceful drive around the plateaus, and then you enter a mechanics shop where the other cars prepare you for a race. The best part is the end, where you race another car to the finish! Sadly, we lost the race. But, we were still going really fast, as you can see from my flying hair in the picture below.

My other favorite ride in California Adventure is Soarin'! We waited a little longer so we could sit smack front and center. That way, we didn't see other people's feet dangling above us. I love the pine smell when you're flying over the forest. It reminds me of Christmas time. :) 

We also went on California Screamin' for the first time. I used to be too scared to ride it, because of the loop, but both Ella and I were brave enough to try it. They launch you from 0 to 60 mph! Allison and I determined that they have very loud prerecorded screaming during the launch...

This is me, Allison, and Ella on the Ferris wheel. Allison and Ella wanted to go on the swinging gondola, so I tried it... It was much scarier than California Screamin'! The gondola swings almost completely horizontal, and it feels like you're about to fly off and plummet to the ground! Afterwards I felt pretty sick to my stomach.

You can see Ella holding a cute Dumbo stuffed animal. I won it for her at the water shooting carnival game! Yes, I was actually playing against other people. It doesn't matter that they were all younger than me... Anyways, I somehow managed to aim it perfectly from the very beginning. I was so excited! Nothing like the thrill of victory in carnival games.

We went to dinner at Flo's V8 Cafe. It looked so cool, just like the old style diner from the Cars movie! Ella was disappointed that the waiters weren't in roller-skates.


Tuesday was our tour of Caltech, which you can read about here!

On Wednesday, after a day to rest our feet, we went to Disneyland! It was a very productive day. We went on all of the rides we wanted to! I love them all... especially Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Indiana Jones, Big Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain, and Splash Mountain (three "Mountains" in a row)! I was also happily surprised by Star Tours. I remember riding it a really long time ago with my dad and feeling really sick, but this time it was great!

Dumbo the Flying Elephant! It's always the first ride of the day. There's Allison and Ella in the first Dumbo and my mom and me in the second.

Here we are entering the mouth of a whale at Storybook Land! All the mini plants and houses are so cute.

 Here's me and Ella looking focused and determined on Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters.

 In Toontown, Ella and Allison took a nap on Minnie's rock-hard bed. How does she sleep on that?

 Also in Toontown, we took a ride on the Jolly Trolley!

As always, our trip to California included some excellent restaurants and snacks. Shout outs for Souplantation (aka Sweet Tomatoes in the south because maybe plantations conjure up some unpleasant memories) which I absolutely love! Musha which is a cool Japanese fusion restaurant with dishes like cheesy brown rice in a big slab of parmesan. And the always special Yogurtland!

Our trip to California was magical as always!


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