Sydney - Hi from Syd the Science Kid

Hi there!

         My name is Sydney Zhang. I am a graduating 8th grader from my hometown of San Diego, California. I am thrilled to be selected as one of top 10 finalists in the 3M Young Scientist Challenge. I would like to share with you my summer research experience leading up to the final event. I can't wait to meet other finalists in October at the 3M headquarters.

         My nickname is “Syd the Science Kid”. I've loved science since I was very young. I like to observe the environment that surrounds me and ask many questions like “Why does a straw look bent in the water?" or “Why does gravity exist?”. I have become particularly interested in biology when I heard about DNA and RNA, the blueprints for life. I love to study genetics, cell biology, and chemistry.

        When I was a third grader, I gradually experienced blurry vision and couldn't see words clearly on my teacher's whiteboard. This was when I started wearing glasses. I also found that more than 30% of my classmates were wearing glasses or contact lenses (I couldn’t help but notice that at least four of the finalists wore glasses!). For the first time, I realized vision plays an important role in everyone's daily life.

        I began to pay attention to the symptoms and progression of eye related diseases through web search and literature reading. In 7th grade, I started to work on my science project on the early diagnosis of these diseases. My parents helped me to build a small lab in my garage. I presented my research at the San Diego Science and Engineering Fair and I won the grand prize in the junior division. This was when I heard about the 3M Young Scientist Challenge. After watching YouTube videos from many young scientists, I was encouraged and decided to participate in the 2021 competition.

        Making an entry video was a challenging experience as I needed to condense all my research into a short two-minute format. I even made a cartoon to illustrate my research model. I felt so relieved after I submitted my application.

        I never thought of my project would be selected in the Young Scientist Challenge but I will continue my research in my garage lab to improve my project. I still remember when I received the phone call from Ms. Marly Leighton, the director for this event. I couldn’t believe I received this once in the lifetime opportunity! Both of my parents are 1st generation immigrants so they couldn’t be more happier for my award. My brother, a college student, encouraged me to work as hard as I can for the final competition. I can’t wait to start my summer research under the guidance of my mentor Dr. Shaver at 3M. Please stay tuned for my progress!

Have a great summer!

Sydney Zhang