Reports from the Shanghai International Youth Science and Technology Expo

Chinese teacher Gao Laoshi met up with Peddie students during SIYST weekend (Shanghai International Youth Science and Technology Expo):  "As indicated in Dylan's blog (below), our Peddie delegation did a great job at the EXPO. The Peddie delegation was the only one that spoke Chinese among all the non-Chinese speaking countries.  Peddie received two 'Organizing Committee Awards' in the Interactive Workshop and On-the-Spot DIY Show."  Two of our students' entries follow below. 

Dylan Nir '13
This weekend was an incredible one at the Shanghai International Youth Science and Technology Expo! I started off with a day to myself in order to do interviews for my Summer Signature project on social mobility limitations in China. I think the most interesting part of the experience was seeing all stages in Chinese life just at one street corner! I was able to talk to a Muslim family who left their home region of Xinjiang (ALL the way across China) in hopes of finding a better life, and I was glad to hear that their humble restaurant has allowed them to own some of their first luxuries such as air conditioning and a television. I also came across a man who dug through bushes to find a half-drunk Pepsi bottle to drink, and then asked me for my empty water bottle to recycle for a little change. At this same corner, however, I met a young lady whose parents were both successful businesspeople and is one of the most monetarily elite families in the city! I will never forget my experience on the corner because it really opened my eyes to how similar all of us are, regardless of what we do or do not have, and I cannot wait to continue my interviews.

The main attraction of this weekend, however, was of course the Expo itself. Peddie’s Aquaponics exhibit was a successful one, and Phil and Zoe’s oral presentation earned them the Most Popular Presentation award in our section. The other exhibitions were incredible, and included one student’s fire safety modifications that will soon be implemented all over the city! I cannot explain how impressed I was with the amount of time and effort everyone put into their work, and I got a lot of new viewpoints and ideas out of the convention. Most of all, however, this weekend was about the people I spent it with. I made a lot of friends from all over the globe, most notably Germany, England, Australia, and of course China. Meeting all of these kids in the same stage of life as me with the same interests was perfect, and although we didn’t have too much time together we were able to make some strong friendships that will definitely go beyond the convention. Overall, I would call this an extremely successful weekend, and the things I learned inside and outside of the expo will definitely stay with me for a long time.

Julia Cunningham '13
In the words of Zoe Gilbard, “I tried to avoid nerd camp this year but I still ended up there in China.” We are currently a part of the Shanghai International Youth and Science Expo. Saturday (for us) marked the official start of the expo.

From the start, I think we were all a bit dumbstruck when the project directly across from us was working to save the polar bears and the one diagonal to us was a model airplane. We had a fish tank with fish and no food, and our hand-painted sign. But the opening ceremony on Saturday would have made us believe we all represented the epitome of science in our generation.

Giant LED screens lit up the stage behind young girls wielding the flags of all the representing countries: India, Germany, Australia, Singapore, England, China, America, Ireland, Finland and more. Our host and hostess replaced them, sparkling slightly in the spotlight that followed them. After the special expo flag was raised, they announced the official start of the expo to the camera that was flying around on an arm.

Even younger boys and girls dressed in traditional Peking Opera makeup and costume came up next. They displayed an impressive amount of control for people who couldn’t have been a year over eight. They performed with swords and batons wearing headdresses that were taller than they were. Further into the ceremony, delegates from each high school filed up on stage: each wearing their country’s “traditional suit.” Zoe was singled out to be asked a few questions along with a girl from Australia, a boy from Germany and a boy from Singapore. With Jiang Laoshi’s help, she delivered a Chinese sentence which in English translated to “I’m really glad I was able to attend this expo. I really like China. I love Shanghai. Thanks, everyone!”

In conclusion, we listened to the chorus sing Brilliance of the Youth, whose lyrics translated to something along the lines of “in the name of youngsters we cheer for science.” The stage was then flooded with reds and blues and greens and yellows and the brightest colors known to the eye to surround the host and hostess and “honored guests” in order to create a cheerful scene for the television cameras.

When we finally were able to return to our booth, we were quite pleased to see that the fish and bamboo were still alive. In the end, we greatly underestimated these fish. They all survived another two days through the whole Expo without food. They were so vibrant in fact, that when we offered to give them away, people were lined up outside our booth.

After lunch, Jiang laoshi announced that Phil and I would be participating in a DIY contest. I had never even heard of this in English before. DIY stands for Do It Yourself, and Phil and I were instructed to create a sanctuary island for the growing population of the world. We had two and a half hours to make a green, habitable island out of foam boards and double-sided tape and Styrofoam. We created “Prometheus”, a self-sufficient, environmentally friendly island with wind- and sun- powered electricity and an aquaponics system to keep them fed. We won a participation award for that one.

It’s amazing to think that, right at this moment, people from all over the world have convened in Shanghai for a similar purpose. We’re all here to learn about science and what our generation has chosen to do with it. But in the end, what the expo really was about was connections. Where else can you make an English friend while at the same time learning about a sock drawer organizer made by the group from Singapore? Where else do you pass an Indian, a German, and a Korean on your way out the dorm to breakfast? The Expo wasn’t only a chance to share Peddie’s scientific knowledge with the world, but to get to know not only Chinese but many different types of people and cultures.


  1. I sent my request for this camp, I really want to go and learn about chinese culture and meet people over the world... i'm so excited.


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