This summer I was chosen to participate in the Envision National Youth Leadership Forum: Explore STEM program. The program focuses on the core subjects of robotics, environmental science, video game design, and medicine. I think the Envision STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) program is a huge opportunity for many students my age. This is an opportunity for students to invest their intelligence into their future, no matter their desired career path.
When I graduate from high school, I want to study at an Ivy League school such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, or Stanford, to become a lawyer and then a politician.
Some people may not understand what STEM has to do with law and politics, but there is an answer to that confusion. Science helps the human brain think strategically. I will be able to look at world problems — like renewable energy, global warming, and solutions within the educational system — in a different way from typical politicians or lawyers.
In my experience, I see science as a fun hobby. Science is a way for me to get my hands dirty and learn something new. And I can be creative and collaborative with others, because science is not always an individual sport, but more so a team sport. I use the word “sport” because science can be competitive, where people strive for knowledge and want to be the first to discover something new.
One of my earliest experiences with science is a 4th grade science fair. It was the first time that my fellow students were able to take over and create a project on their own. For my project, I wanted to see if an egg would crack with protection or without protection. I created an instructional video and a display. The only way I could participate in the science fair is if my teacher chose me to represent my class. I was happy and surprised when I was chosen, but I was even more elated when I won the science fair for my grade.
Over time my hobby grew into deeper aspects of science, which included astronomy and archeology. I enjoyed astronomy after taking a school elective on the subject. The course taught me about the astronomical bodies that make up our galaxy, which I thought was really cool. I also enjoyed archeology because I have always liked getting my hands dirty and discovering what our world looked like for early man. I also loved to create dinosaur sculptures out of fake fossils that I bought from the store. Now I am involved in two separate projects I began as a City School student. One is creating an LED generator for a bird feeder, and the other is studying memorization for children and adults in the human brain. Since graduation, I have continued this work as independent projects.
I believe that it is important, for not only scientists, but also children my age to learn about how science affects and explains the world and our everyday lives. Science shows us the way toward creative solutions to real world problems, how to help people who have been affected by natural or toxic disasters, such as the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
Young people pursuing careers in science fields should not be looked down upon by others who are older or who have different ideas. We can all achieve our goals, at any age, by having confidence in ourselves, doing well in school and out of school, being open to new ideas, and never giving up. Scientific success involves many failures and do-overs.
Overall, if I had any advice for students my age, I would say: Follow your dreams and never give up. No matter the obstacles or the barriers, you can still overcome them and make a difference for your life. Be the difference you want to see in the world — whether you become a scientist, a lawyer, a reporter, a doctor, or anything else — because there is a job for you to do and conquer.
Calvin R. Bell, III, is a 14-year-old graduate of the City School, a Christian private school in Philadelphia, and will begin 9th grade at Moorestown Friends School in Moorestown, N.J., in the fall. He attended Emory University in Atlanta for a week this summer as part of the Envision National Youth Leadership Forum. Students such as Calvin are able to explore careers at eight of the top universities around the country.