Walking down the streets of Philadelphia, you see a large commotion by a nearby store. It just so happens that one of your brother’s best friends — let’s call him Kwaku — is involved in the fight. You squint your eyes and see the name of the store written in Chinese, running across the storefront. You’ve never seen this store before, but you want to tell your brother where this is happening so he can help — so you sprint home, desperately trying to hold the store name in mind while navigating through the busy streets of the city. …


Grateful. Joyful. Full of love.

Heartbroken. Exasperated. Tired.

Emotions, while intangible and never easily understood, are what make us who we are. To me, emotions can be roughly divided into two basic categories: positive emotions and negative emotions. Everyone will inevitably experience both sides of the spectrum, some more extreme than others. Sometimes we feel so positive that we believe nothing can ever bring us down, while other times we feel completely drowned by negativity. Sometimes we work toward experiencing positive emotions, but instead, get met with disappointment. And even rarer, sometimes we experience both positive and negative feelings simultaneously.

We live through both positive and negative emotions (hopefully more positive than negative!) (image credit: https://bcs.mit.edu/news-events/news/delicate-balance-between-positive-and-negative-emotion)


I consider myself to be very blessed and fortunate. To feel this way requires perspective — to consider not only my life’s circumstances but also the circumstances of other people in my community and beyond. Sometimes when people like me who’ve grown up in a well-off community feel down or “depressed,” I often wonder: can we fairly characterize what we’re feeling as being “depressed”? If what I am experiencing is just a small fraction of the pain and suffering felt by someone else across the world, how could I possibly say that I’m “suffering”? And as a follow-up thought, I…


“What is the sensitivity of an MRI scan to detect liver cancer?”

I briefly blanked. As I was sifting through all the MRI facts I’d read about a couple of days ago, I could tell that our science fair judge at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) — with his feet impatiently tapping on the ground — was anxious to move on to the next question. In contrast to his I’m-a-friendly-guy tie with at least thirty Snoopy dogs on it, he looked slightly annoyed.

His tie looked something like this (image credit: http://www.atomicmall.com/view.php?id=Snoopy-Dog-Many-Play-Golf-Cartoon-Fancy-Novelty-NECK-TIE_2225013)

This was the 11th grade me at ISEF, an amazing week-long adventure of learning…


I remember this one weird epiphany moment when my family and I were at this Asian buffet near my cousin’s house in Connecticut. To be honest, it wasn’t really anything special — just your usual hibachi stand behind the rows and rows of Chinese food mixed in with some out-of-place American cuisine like pizza or chicken nuggets. I’ve always been the person to never eat anything else other than the hibachi stir-fry, but today, I wanted to try something new. …


I used to immediately associate science with facts, numbers, data, etc. How much ATP is used up in each step of cellular respiration? What is the chemical formula of hydrogen sulfide? Why does DNA behave the way it does? And don’t worry — I know plenty of people who also treat it the same way.

Sometimes it seems like science is just so complicated and academic (image credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-V5GVM5nKE)

However, everything has something a little deeper. If there’s something I don’t like or frankly don’t understand, I challenge myself to see why others can appreciate it. I’ve come to love this practice of “digging deep,” and I’ve had a lot of great, great conversations…


Music has always been a huge part of my life. Whether I realize it or not, it is something that I can always rely on — both in times of stress and joy. Looking back, if I could give the middle school Adam a piece of advice, I would tell him to appreciate music more.

(image credit: https://www.thedj.co.uk/music/)

But what does it mean to “appreciate” music? We’ve constantly been told to not take x or y for granted, and music is no exception to this equation (at least in my life). …


If you read my last blog post, I touched on one of those “deep” questions that make me think the most. It’s this question that challenges not only the basic principles of life itself, but also seems to create an inseparable rift between the different cultures and beliefs that we value. It’s this question that attempts to explain how our world began, how our world developed, and how our world is developing. The question of what we should rely on — science or religion — continues to plague the minds of many to this day. …


To be honest, science was something I never really enjoyed as a kid or even as a young teen. Science was just another subject at school — another boring topic. Back then, I’d much rather talk about video games and…well, that’s pretty much it actually. I didn’t understand how or why anyone would want to do this “science” thing for the rest of their life.

To put it simply, science remained a mystery to me, in the sense that I simply could not form any positive connections with it. And, to a certain degree, this mentality has not changed. For…

Adam Zhang

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