Asian youths get a day of science, math, innovation

Updated: 2014-06-06 22:50

By CHANG JUN in Santa Clara, California (China Daily USA)

  Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

Asian youths get a day of science, math, innovation

Some of the organizers of the 2014 Science and Innovation Day to be held on Sunday in Santa Clara, California, are, from left: Jacky Zhang, Cathy Zhang and Qu Ning, president of the Peking University Alumni Association of Northern California, and Roy Kong from the US-China Association of High-level Professionals. CHANG JUN / CHINA DAILY

Asian Americans should develop a life-long interest in science and innovation at an early age, and those in Silicon Valley are expected to take the lead, said industry insiders and career consultants.

Asian-American children are known for being book smart, but they usually are outshined by their Caucasian counterparts when it comes to science and innovation, said Qu Ning, a software engineer with Google and president of the Peking University Alumni Association of Northern California (PKUAANC).

Qu's organization is among those putting on Science and Innovation Day on Sunday in Santa Clara, California, for Asian-American children. He said "I hope the event can help ignite the enthusiasm of Asian-American children for seeking scientific truth and innovation."

Other hosts for the event are the Silicon Valley Tsinghua Network, Tsinghua Youth Distinguishing Program and the US-China Association of High-level Professionals (UCAHP).

The day's program will include introducing children to three internationally renowned science competitions and providing them with opportunities to question industry leaders.

Industry insiders believe the science competitions — the Intel Science Talent Search (Intel STS), the Siemens Science Competition and the Google Science Fair — are the most prestigious and widely-acclaimed science and innovation contests for youngsters, among which Intel and Google are technology giants in Sillicon Valley.

The Intel STS, established in 1942 for high school seniors, has provided a national stage for the United States' best and brightest young students to present original research to professional scientists.

The Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology recognizes young talent and fosters scientific growth of high school students by granting national awards to winning science research projects.

The Google Science Fair is open to students 13 to 18 years old worldwide who compete online with their science projects.

Although the top prize of $100,000 in this year's Intel Science Fair went to an Asian American, Eric Chen, 17, from San Diego, California, industry insiders think it's only atypical.

"The true picture is most of our Asian-American kids are only good at preparing for exams and scoring high," said Roy Kong from UCAHP. "They lack the interest in putting their hands on science projects or being addicted to innovation."

Chen's research into possible new drugs for the treatment of influenza earned him $250,000 in the past two years by winning all three science competitions.

In May he met President Barack Obama at the White House.

"As a society, we have to celebrate outstanding work by young people in science… because super-star biologists and engineers and rocket scientists and robot builders… they're what's going to transform our society," Obama said.

In March, 2013, 17-year-old Nick D'Aloisio of the UK made international headlines by agreeing to sell his app, Summly, to Yahoo for $30 million.

"D'Aloisio only worked 18 months on his project," said Kong. "What distinguished him from mediocre entrepreneurs are his innovation ideas. When can we have our Asian-American D'Aloisio?"

Young Asian Americans in Silicon Valley should have not only knowledge but the spirit of innovation because the world follows the new technology and innovation coming out of Silicon Valley, Qu said. "The younger, the better," he added.

Among the speakers on Sunday will be Yang Xu, the corporate vice-president and president of Intel China. He will share his experience of climbing the corporate ladder in the past 20 years by using his knowledge of science and innovation skills.

"Yang's story is inspiring," said Qu, noting that Yang was a recipient of an Intel Scholarship for college and has contributed tremendously to Intel's continuous market expansion in China. "We expect his talk to be juicy and informative," Qu said.

Organizers said they expect a turnout of around 500 on Sunday, and will make the event an annual one.