The “First Science Lesson” Given at the 3rd WLA Sci-T Conference
Date: 2020-11-03
Source: Xinhuanet
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 In the evening of October 31, the 3rd WLA Sci-T Conference was held in Shanghai. Roger Kornberg, 2006 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry and Chairman of World Laureates Association, Michael Levitt, 2013 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry and Vice Chairman of World Laureates Association, Xie Xiaoliang, 2015 Albany Prize Winner, and John Hopcroft, 1986 Turing Award Recipient, attended the forum online. It is worth noting that 55 little scientists selected nationwide also participated in the forum.

John Hopcroft, 1986 Turing Award Recipient, attended the forum online. From Xinhuanet

John Hopcroft, Xie Xiaoliang and Michael Levitt shared their scientific research experiences and life journeys, and had cordial exchanges with the teenagers in the Q&A session. John Hopcroft gave three important suggestions about life to the teenagers present through video. First of all, he encouraged them to have a dialogue with themselves, figuring out what they like to do and what’s their lasting interests. Those who are able to keep and enjoy their passion will become the luckiest candidates when the opportunity comes. Second, the “butterfly effect” gives us an inspiration that a small matter in our daily life may exert a huge impact on others, so we should not underestimate our ability to influence others. Hopcroft told the teenagers that the most important thing in life is not how much money one earns, but how much contribution he makes to the world by sharing his own life experience. He also urged them to enjoy the process.

Xie Xiaoliang, 2015 Albany Prize Winner  From Xinhuanet

Xie Xiaoliang reviewed his life and learning experience besides the Weiming Lake of Peking University. He went across the Pacific Ocean to America to conduct research on single-molecule biophysical chemistry. When he observed the dynamic reaction process of the first enzyme molecule, he felt the strong sense of happiness brought by scientific research. When he brought his children back to China to watch the 2008 Olympic Games. and got so excited about China winning the most medals, he thought that China shouldn’t be left behind in terms of gaining gold medals in scientific research, which depends on the efforts of Chinese scientists generation after generation. Xie Xiaoliang further introduced the important role of single-cell genomics in test-tube babies, novel coronavirus sequencing and development of specific drugs for COVID-19. He hopes that the scientific undertaking that he has dedicated himself to for a lifetime will be loved by more teenagers.

Michael Levitt, 2013 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry and Vice Chairman of World Laureates Association From Xinhuanet

Michael Levitt shared his growth experience from a child to a scientist, especially how he had made his share of contribution after understanding the background of a research field. In his view, extensive research in basic science offers more chance for making original scientific research results. He encouraged the teenagers to have passion, never give up, dare to take a risk and make mistakes, and be kind.

Group photo of the top scientists and 55 little scientists at the forum. From Xinhuanet

After appreciating the wisdom and charm of top scientists, representatives of the teenagers shared their visions for and attitudes towards scientific research. Tang Jie, a senior high school student from Xiamen Foreign Language School, shared a small project titled Simulation of Binary Accretion within the Roche-lobes of the Jupiter and the Earth. He said that the inspiration of the topic originated from the sci-fi movie The Wandering Earth screened last year, and was closely related to the fact that he developed an interest in astrophysics at the age of five and seeded a dream of interstellar travel. “Conducting scientific research makes me excited. For me, it means exploring more possibilities. As long as we continue to work hard, I believe that all people can visit the interstellar society in the future,” Tang Jie said.

Wu Juntao, a middle school student from Shanghai who dreamed of becoming a witch when she was a child, unsurprisingly fell in love with chemistry in middle school. Apart from participating in the research project titled Copper-based Catalysts from Waste Electronic Materials for the Reduction of Electrochemical Carbon Dioxide, she takes popularization of science as her mission and actively delivers scientific values to people and communities around her.

In the Q&A session, the little scientists asked top scientists questions regarding “disciplinary integration”, “the value of theoretical research”, “the impact of scientific and technological development on school education”, “the way for teenagers to balance study at school and scientific inquiry”, etc. The top scientists answered their questions one by one. In the session for principals of top high schools, Wang Dianjun, Principal of Tsinghua University High School, Li Zhicong, Principal of No. 2 High School Attached to East China Normal University, and Yi Guodong, Principal of Chengdu No.7 High School shared the unremitting efforts and remarkable achievements made by each school in science education and cultivation of scientific and technological innovation talents.

Roger Kornberg, 2006 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry and Chairman of World Laureates Association  From Xinhuanet

In his concluding remarks, Roger Kornberg encouraged the little scientists to stay critical while recognizing the value of their predecessors’ experience. He said, “the rebellion of not listening to others may bring more possibilities on the path of scientific research.” He summed up the true meaning of science education: the success of education does not lie in how much knowledge students have managed to memorize, and the most important thing is to stimulate their interest in subjects. “Science is not interesting, but it is worthy of exploration.” Roger encouraged them with the important experience his father had taught him. It’s hoped that the future of scientific research will be filled with love and innovation of the little scientists.

On the same day, the WLA Shanghai Center and East China Normal University issued an initiative to set up the WLA Science Education Alliance, with its members coming from the “Practice Base of WLA Science Education Alliance”.