This post was written by Huihui “Angela” Fan (pictured, center), a winner at the 2012 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. As part of her prize at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, Angela received a trip in December 2012 to the Stockholm International Youth Science Seminar (SIYSS), an annual weeklong event for young international scientists that provides opportunities to attend various Nobel festivities, including the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony.
Collaboration, they say, is the heart of scientific discovery.
During my recent trip to Stockholm, I spent eight days with 25 young scientists from 16 different countries. Each of us had interesting aspects of culture to share, remarkably different school experiences, and fascinating stories to tell about growing up. It was wonderful that such a diverse group could be connected by our love of science research.
Despite our research in different areas, we spent hours explaining our projects to each other and discussing what it was like to pursue research in different parts of the world. Some of the students had performed research as part of school classes, while others simply liked to build objects in their free time. Others required laboratory assistance from nearby universities, while some students performed research independently. We swapped stories about our experiences at science competitions and discovered that many of us had been at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair together, and we all wondered why we didn’t meet earlier.
Science did not only connect us as students, but on the professional level as research collaborators, as well. For instance, on day three of the seminar, we attended a series of Nobel lectures, where the laureates explained their lifetime of work. All of the lectures had a huge emphasis on research’s collaborative nature. It was wonderful to see all of the people who contributed to the effort of discovering such landmarks in science.
At the end of the week, I couldn’t believe that we were all going to leave and return to our respective countries. It seemed impossible to me that a mere eight days ago, we were complete and utter strangers. We had been through so much together – from running around in the Stockholm cold to sitting eagerly in anticipation as this year’s laureates received their awards. A common interest in science brought us all together, gave us initial avenues of conversation to pursue when we were all awkwardly scared to talk, and connected us all deeply. We traded emails and “friended” each other on Facebook, swapped home addresses with the promise to send postcards, and hugged and cried on the last day as taxis shipped us out to the airport. My trip to Stockholm was an incredible, irreplaceable experience that truly revealed that science, at its core, is an international effort characterized by friendship and collaboration.