“Hello, my name is Jaehong Min. I am your reporter for problem Number 14: Looping Pendulum.” My voice filled the small lecture room, the opponent team ready to take notes, professors staring at me. It was time for us to show off what we had prepared for the past five months.
My final weeks of winter break were filled with last minute preparations for the KYPT. Countless nights were spent finalizing experiment data, creating presentations, and practicing debate. Only after almost five months did we feel that we had a decent grasp of the problems we solved. It didn’t feel like the day would come, but in no time, it was the night before we departed to Daegu for the actual tournament.
Considering the open-ended quality of the KYPT problems, the preparation felt like it never really ended. Even on the day our team took the train to the venue, we continued fine-tuning our presentations. At the expense of our sleep hours, the whole team decided to continue working into the wee hours of the night. Even so, we didn’t feel entirely prepared. The morning of the first round, we went into the room feeling nervous.
The debate round of the KYPT consists of four rounds. Twenty-four teams - teams that have passed the 1st and 2nd research paper rounds - get to participate in the final debate rounds. Each team plays the role of reporter, opponent, and reviewer once, rotating as the round progresses. This process is repeated each round. Points from 1 to 10 are given from a number of professors in the room, and scores are tallied after every round. The top three or four teams fight one last time in the final round. The first day went by so quickly; it took everyone on the team a while to get accustomed to the tournament process. After the first two debate rounds, we were all exhausted. We realized that our presentations needed more work to do for the next day, so some of us took turns sleeping while others worked on their presentations.
On the second day of the tournament, the fourth and final debate round was over. As our team walked over to the cafeteria for dinner, we felt mingled feelings of fulfillment, joy, and sorrow. That night, we finally gave ourselves a chance to take a break and have fun. We met up with some friends from a different school and just kept talking the whole night until everyone passed out.
Meeting various kids from other schools and seeing how they prepared for the tournament, I was a bit daunted at first, especially by a few of the kids from the famous Korean science-specialized high schools. Their level of understanding on certain theories was simply different. I was amazed and inspired by their passion and fervor for science. It is wonderful how one can take an interest to something bigger and more meaningful by putting in countless hours of effort. I admire such a process of working hard, and I said to myself that I too would apply such a mindset to the things that I enjoy doing.
|[A photo from the tournament final. Team Spherical Cats from Korea Science Academy of KAIST is presenting. Photo courtesy of Jaehong Min.]|
|[A photo of our team after the tournament. Photo courtesy of Jaehong Min.]|
The KYPT was a meaningful and personal experience in many ways. Ever since I heard about the competition from a senior I knew, I was interested in it. Everything, from the stressful process of gathering a team to studying the concepts necessary for solving the problems, had to be done from scratch. I am extremely proud that I did everything proactively and felt that I had played the role of team captain well. I am also thankful that my friends were willing to be my teammates and stayed with me throughout every second of the journey. This huge endeavor would not have been realized if it were not for them. Every single part of this third-of-a-year journey was memorable and holds significant meaning to me. Whenever I have a challenge that I want to take on, I can reflect upon my KYPT experience.
Korea International School
Jaehong Min firstname.lastname@example.org
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