Rewinding back to seventh grade, a friend introduced me to a volunteer opportunity at the Gwacheon National Science Museum, which was near my area. I figured, since I’m quite interested in science and I like explaining things to people, this would be a fulfilling and eye-opening experience. Now, as a rising senior, I reflect on the five-and-a-half years that I have committed to it.
[Helping out with an exhibit which detected people’s brainwaves.
|[Helping out with an exhibit which detected people’s brainwaves. In these photos,
I was in seventh grade. Photos Courtesy of Jaehong Min.]
From reading children’s science books and talking with school teachers, I developed an interest in science at a young age. As my grade level went up, I learned more and more about the fascinating realm of science. It was quite marvelous how the laws of science could explain the happenings of the world. What’s more, the accumulation of scientific knowledge - driven by scientists’ desires to investigate the principles of nature - has led to great technological development. The knowledge we gained from scientific discoveries are very applicable to real life; our lives have become convenient and fruitful. I admire both the conceptual and applied aspects of science, and the exhibitions and accompanying explanations at the Gwacheon National Science Museum showcase these very traits of science. It has been a privilege to volunteer at such a place, and I still find it exciting to share my enthusiasm for science with the visitors.
The Gwacheon National Science Museum is a national facility that represents Korea’s advanced science and technology capabilities. It encourages young visitors to become interested in the sciences and shares with the public scientific principles that govern our daily lives. As a daily student volunteer at the Gwacheon National Science Museum, I would guide visitors, mostly children and their parents, through the exhibits of the museum. I would assist children with various interactive exhibits, and explain the scientific concepts behind them.
The books, teachers, and mentors that made me interested in science as a kid all did one thing in common: they made science approachable to a youngster. A large portion of our visitors to the museum are young children, some in elementary school, others in kindergarten even. Being in high school, of course I know the advanced concepts behind our exhibits, which our young visitors wouldn’t understand. That’s where I come in. I explain these concepts in a way younger audiences could more easily understand, as did my childhood books, teachers and mentors.
|[Helping visitors with the “Pull Off the Tablecloth” experiment, an experiment that explains inertia, or Newton’s First Law of Motion. Photo taken this July. Photo Courtesy of Jaehong Min.]|
Recently, I was serving as a guide for an exhibit about balls rolling down different types of inclines, when a boy ran towards my exhibition, and rolled some prepared steel marbles down the inclines. “Why doesn’t the marble roll faster down the straight line?”, the boy said, looking a little puzzled. I walked over to him and answered, “That’s called a cycloid. It’s the path a point on a circle traces as it rolls. A falling object is fastest on a cycloid!” Looking excited, the boy rolled the marbles again, this time carefully comparing the speeds on each incline. It looked like he was going through the process of scientific thinking, and I got to witness this firsthand. I felt gratified and excited as well -- I was the catalyst behind the boy’s experience.
|[A birds-eye-view photo of one of the exhibitions. Photo taken this July.
Photo Courtesy of Jaehong Min.]
This episode is but a tiny part of what I got out of my five-and-a-half year stint at the museum. I believe curiosity towards natural phenomena is the joyful and exciting component of science, and I am glad that I got to share this with countless young visitors. I hope they can spread the same joy and excitement they felt to future generations.
Korea International School
Jaehong Min firstname.lastname@example.org
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