Some talk ideas for the Open Seminars

Several days ago, a friend of mine mentioned that the Olympiads School, a Toronto-area mathematics and preparation institution, was hosting an event known as the Open Seminars.  This was immediately compelling to me; when I searched for more information, I only grew more intrigued.

Essentially, high-school-aged student speakers who’ve had some form of involvement – be it academic or extracurricular – are permitted to give a two-hour, interactive seminar on essentially any topic to a similarly aged audience.  I recently discovered that I enjoy attempting to aid and interact with others; despite the fact that I’m not distinguished in any way, I thought I would give the application a try.  Somehow, very surprisingly, I was asked to give a talk, and will be doing so on the eighteenth of August at Olympiads.

This means that I’m presently preparing what I hope will turn into a relatively cohesive presentation.  Here are the four talk ideas that I’m contemplating (I’m leaning heavily towards the first one):

1.  “What’s up, Doc?  On Entering Medicine, Research, and Law”

An interactive workshop that would serve to grant a student’s perspective of what it’s like to enter medicine, research, and law.  I would begin with a quick introduction to these three disciplines and my related involvement, and would then encourage students to examine themselves and the fields critically via several activities.

Discussion and activities could span: prerequisites for professional school, how to apply for research (I could, for example, get students to draft letters to professors), important questions to ask oneself before entering med., law, or research (collected from professionals in those fields), sample exercises from the LSAT, MCAT, and GRE (as well as an introduction to the thought processes needed for completing these tests – I might have students solve problems),  a discussion of the importance of mental health and a related schizophrenia simulation, a roundtable discussion of popular problems in medical ethics, exercises in diagnosing conditions, and interview simulations.  This would be a very conceptual, very subjective introduction to the aforementioned three disciplines.

2.  “A Day in the Life:  An Introduction to the Research Process Through Everyday Science”

This would consist of teaching younger students how to enter the research process by briefly presenting my experiences, but primarily working with them to build and test hypotheses pertaining to everyday phenomena.  We could work together to try to explain things like how and why we wake up, what causes hunger, how we can hear ourselves think, and how we can type accurately without looking at a keyboard.   Students would then be asked to pose their own questions and try to develop small research projects that we would work on together via e-mail or frequent, post-seminar meetings.  My aim here would be to showcase the relevance and utility of science whilst introducing a less experienced audience to the research process in an intuitive way.  Quite the goal, yes.

3.  “Etymology, Standardized Testing, and Thought”

This would be a more theoretical discussion of etymology: the study of word origins.  I would begin by discussing my research in the area, which focuses on whether or not Chinese First Language readers have better visual retention because of the Chinese writing system, and how we can improve C.F.L. readers’ acquisition of English words.  I would discuss the relevance of this to the SAT, and would bring up interesting examples of how etymology can help a person understand many languages.  I would then guide students in dissecting different English words by their Greek and Latin roots, doing SAT exercises, and playing assorted memory games.

4.  “STEM- and Education-Related Entrepreneurship – Why to Do It and How to Get Involved”

I’d discuss my experiences in STEM- and education-related entrepreneurship, and would try to aid students in figuring out what entrepreneurship consists of and how one may get involved.  For an activity, I’d have students think of an issue that bothers them and find one way to solve it, and then discuss how this could be accomplished via entrepreneurship.

Whilst none of these ideas is as yet well-developed, I hope I can get somewhere by the time the eighteenth rolls around.  I’m thrilled to have been granted a chance at interacting with the Olympiads School’s community, as I’ve found it to be an enthusiastic, driven, and holistically interesting one.  Wish me luck, please!

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One Response to Some talk ideas for the Open Seminars

  1. Fly-gonz says:

    I suggest #3, given the audience (mostly Chinese-Canadian students) that you will be speaking to.

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