How young people can get involved in real science

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I'm going to use my soapbox to talk about something that's not purely cyclotron-related. This is aimed towards high school students interested in science.

While a high school student in New York City, I became fascinated with how things work. I wanted to learn more. I wanted to build things. I wanted to tear apart every electrical device I could get my hands on and examine its insides. And I'm sure that if you're on this site, you will probably feel the same way.

I know the feeling of being unsure of where to begin searching for interesting things to do. When you're only in high school, is it possible to work in a lab, and if so, will you just be washing glassware? What kind of worthwhile science projects could you do by yourself? How can you find ways to make your college application stand out? Are there other ways to both learn and prove yourself?

I was fortunate to come across some fantastic opportunities, and they did get me far. Among other things, I constructed a cyclotron at Jefferson National lab, I made it to the National Science Bowl, and filed a provisional patent which just last month was fully approved. And it payed off: I learned a ton, and now I'm a physics and electrical engineering student at MIT.

Lately, I've been getting some questions from ambitious high school students about existing opportunities for them. First, let me go ahead and say that you can do real science by yourself! Second, most people out there really enjoy helping ambitious students and seeing them succeed.

More specifically, the three main ways to get your foot in the door of real science, learn more about a topic than most people around you, and have a smashing college application:

  1. Contact research labs to get an internship
  2. Participate in math and science competitions, as well as summer programs
  3. Do personal projects

More to come soon!
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