Jump to content

Menu

Summer camp


Recommended Posts

My 9th grader is applying for a summer physics camp and needs to submit a 250-500 word essay describing his interest in attending the camp. He asked for forum feedback on his essay. This captures his personality pretty well, imo, but many people find him hard to understand.

 

Thoughts?

 

 

Looking at a desk or keyboard, I sometimes find myself visualizing the microscopic realm of molecules, atoms, baryons and quarks forming our immediate universe. This is an example of a world with interior workings so completely at odds with our everyday experiences that the curious mind is at a considerable risk of being boggled.

 

 

Only through the relentless pursuit of superior models of the universe over the past few centuries have scientists begun to understand the structure of the quantum and other strange realms. The capacity of the mind to derive near-universal explanations concerning the nature of the cosmos from our examination of it is among our greatest abilities. Regardless of your position on the human timeline, you will find people using this this capacity to make astonishing discoveries. These breakthroughs are, in turn, used to create the quintessential inventions of the age. Many disciplines of science are directly involved with the development of explanatory theories. Of these, I find theoretical physics to be the most interesting to think about and the most satisfying to learn about; I especially like black holes and temporal relastatics. Thus, driven by my curiosity, I am interested in pursuing a career in theoretical physics.

 

 

 

I believe the XYZ summer program provides an opportunity to build upon my present knowledge and interest base. I especially hope to take part in activities or demonstrations of the principles involved. Abstract information about a theory is interesting enough, but a physical illustration of its effects provides a whole new conduit of understanding. Additionally, the summer camp offers the opportunity to experience life on a university campus. I would like to be as prepared as possible before enrolling in college. Having the opportunity in high school to spend a week in a college dorm, immersed in physics, would be an excellent indication of what college might be like. The program will provide a chance to meet students also interested in the field of physics. After all, TWO sided conversations about time travel paradoxes are much more stimulating and enjoyable than their one sided equivalents. Finally, the program will provide a chance to meet professors and researchers involved in physics. I am particularly interested in meeting this last group of personages because of the questions I might ask on physics and physics education. Areas of inquiry include ideal high school education, online educational resources, current research and the daily life of a physicist.

 

 

I thank the XYZ program for their time and trouble in setting up this summer camp program, and I look forward to hearing from them soon.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have to run, but I wanted to comment on a few things:

My first impression was that the essay felt stilted and that I did not hear a personal voice. Lots of big words, too many adjectives (relentless, superior, near-universal, astonishing....), too many generalities.

 

Only through the relentless pursuit of superior models of the universe over the past few centuries have scientists begun to understand the structure of the quantum and other strange realms. The capacity of the mind to derive near-universal explanations concerning the nature of the cosmos from our examination of it is among our greatest abilities.

Is it possible to pursue models? Superior to what? What other "strange realms"? (Is a quantum a realm?)

Sentences like this have no substance; he does not actually say anything. It sounds fancy, but the content is trivial. People who organize a physics camp know that science is important. I would expect them to be interested to hear what he finds fascinating; what he knows about physics so far, how he has gone about studying.

 

to build upon my present knowledge and interest base.

 

What exactly is his present knowledge? How did he arrive at it? What is an "interest base"? He should tell them more about his previous studies of physics, how he acquired knowledge, what questions he is interested in. "Interest base"... shudder.

 

Finally, the program will provide a chance to meet professors and researchers involved in physics. I am particularly interested in meeting this last group of personages because of the questions I might ask on physics and physics education. Areas of inquiry include ideal high school education, online educational resources, current research and the daily life of a physicist.

 

Why does he not simply write: "I am excited about meeting physics professors because I have many questions I want to ask them. I would like to learn more about..."

 

The whole essay sounds as if he is trying very very hard to sound complicated and polished, but the reader learns nothing about the student behind the essay.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I actually think it is good.

 

Shoot me, I am contradicting a physicist who says it is not, but I think it is really good. A bit of a stereotypical (but not bad) introduction, but the second paragraph beautifully explains the quest of science in making ever superior conceptual models of the universe (yes, I would reword a thing or two for the sake of clarity), it introduces science as a constant thread of thought developing throughout generations, and then goes neatly from more general to specific which part of that thread of thought he finds personally the most interesting. The last paragraph, even though somewhat too general, is also very realistic and well-written, emphasizes his desire for a dialogue and peers, puts it into the context of his future plans for the university. The very last phrase, I believe, should be a bit more "powerful" and perhaps he should be a bit more specific about his interests / experience.

 

However, on the whole, not bad at all. On the contrary. Very well-developed language, each thought neatly proceding from the previous one, intervowen in a clear synctactic structure. I did not even get an impression that the essay sounds "forced" or "trying" to sound polished - I read it as a fluent, neat writing.

 

Weird. Regentrude and I usually have very similar readings of many writings posted here, and now you got two quite different impressions, so I am not sure how much it helps you. :tongue_smilie:

Edited by Ester Maria
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. He hopes to continue in a discussion to help him improve the writing. I have suggested re-wording sentences, as well as making an actual ouline, but ... Well, he needs to hear it from others. Thank you for motivating him to rework it because he was declaring it done. When I ask him what he finds interesting about physics, he can tell me in a fairly straightforward manner. But when he statrts to write it down it gets bogged down in the most peculiar sentence structure (the end about meeting physicists may be his finest example of this!).

 

Paraphrasing from him:

 

The application has a separate section where he describes classes taken and what he already knows so far, so he did not want to duplicate that..

 

The first two paragraphs were his attempt at describing what interests him in this area. He is unsure what words to use if he does find it astonishing etc.

 

By models he means, for example, early models of electrons mimicked planetary systems and now we have the electron cloud model. He can see he needs to have pursue the development of models, not just pursue models.

 

By other realms he means higher dimensions astrophysics (where we do not know of its existence based on our observations of the immediate universe).

Edited by Trilliums
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I actually think it is good.

 

Shoot me, I am contradicting a physicist who says it is not, but I think it is really good. A bit of a stereotypical (but not bad) introduction, but the second paragraph beautifully explains the quest of science in making ever superior conceptual models of the universe (yes, I would reword a thing or two for the sake of clarity), it introduces science as a constant thread of thought developing throughout generations, and then goes neatly from more general to specific which part of that thread of thought he finds personally the most interesting. The last paragraph, even though somewhat too general, is also very realistic and well-written, emphasizes his desire for a dialogue and peers, puts it into the context of his future plans for the university. The very last phrase, I believe, should be a bit more "powerful" and perhaps he should be a bit more specific about his interests / experience.

 

However, on the whole, not bad at all. On the contrary. Very well-developed language, each thought neatly proceding from the previous one, intervowen in a clear synctactic structure. I did not even get an impression that the essay sounds "forced" or "trying" to sound polished - I read it as a fluent, neat writing.

 

Weird. Regentrude and I usually have very similar readings of many writings posted here, and now you got two quite different impressions, so I am not sure how much it helps you. :tongue_smilie:

 

 

He is very glad to read your assessment of his second paragraph because he felt the gest of what he was trying to say must not be coming across. Care to highlight any particular areas to be re-worded?

This camp means a lot to him.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think Regentrude could help you more about this, being that she is the physicist on this thread and would know how to word some phrases to keep the meaning, but make it more accurate. :)

 

For example, she mentioned his expression that quantum is a "realm" - I have no idea in what way he uses the word "realm" there.

 

About superior models, it needs to be worded more clearly that science attempts to build the most accurate possible model of the world (because it progresses by constant "upgrades" of those models, the science we have at any point is the model of the world to the best of our current knowledge, yadda yadda yadda). Maybe emphasize that those models are developed rather than just pursued.

 

IDK. I think you need Regentrude for this, these are some of my general impression, but she could help you how to really polish those few potentially awkward places.

 

But on the whole, I liked that paragraph. I think the third paragraph needs to be a tad bit "stronger", especially the ending, because the ending phrase usually makes or breaks the final impression of such shorter pieces of writing.

 

I hope he gets in, he sounds passionate (to me). :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The application has a separate section where he describes classes taken and what he already knows so far, so he did not want to duplicate that..

 

I was not talking about classes taken. I was hoping to read what sparked his interest in physics: a cool experiment, a documentary, a book about a specific topic, a wonderful teacher, understanding Newton's laws, a Teaching Company course...

 

The first two paragraphs were his attempt at describing what interests him in this area. He is unsure what words to use if he does find it astonishing etc.

He should say: "I find it astonishing that...". Keep things simple. He could tell the reader that he is excited about xyz, finds it intriguing etc.

 

I showed the essay to my DH who is also a physics professor, and his first comment was that it was exhausting to read, and that it was a complicated way of saying things of not much substance. He was also expecting the student to share more about himself - not make big words about the importance of science.

Maybe we are not understanding the specific question posed for the essay - but if it was, as you write to describe why he is interested in attending camp, we find that much of the essay does not contribute to the topic.

 

By other realms he means higher dimensions astrophysics (where we do not know of its existence based on our observations of the immediate universe).

Then he needs to say so.

Physicists are not very interested in colorful obscure language - they prefer clear, unembellished statements. He does not need to come across as an expert (and physics experts would not use language like this anyway)

If he uses phrases like "structure of the quantum" we have no idea what he means by that; a quantum is the smallest amount of a quantity, for instance energy, as such it has no structure whatsoever.

IMO, it is fine if a 9th grader admits that he finds physics mind-boggling and puzzling. But reading phrases like "structure of the quantum" which makes no sense, or "other realms" which is unclear make it seem as if he is trying very hard to pretend to know a lot of stuff by using fancy language.

 

I do not think the second paragraph can be rescued by simply rewording. I fail to understand what he is trying to say. Phrases like

These breakthroughs are, in turn, used to create the quintessential inventions of the age
make me cringe because they are so unspecific and contain trivial content in a fancy wrapping: I guess he is trying to say that science leads to inventions. Which is rather obvious and does not become a more profound statement if it is written in complicated language (which inventions are "quintessential"? Which "age"? )

 

Apparently I disagree with EsterMaria on this, and I do not think I am the right person to help rewrite this because it is so far from anything I would expect in an essay like this. But as I said, maybe I am misunderstanding the topic and he was asked to write about the importance of physics,. Even then, I would prefer a clearer, less wordy style.

Edited by regentrude
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ok, thanks for your thoughts.

 

Just to clarify, in that sentence it would be "structure if the quantum realm" but he has added in "other" at the end point. We were both puzzled as to why you had an issue with "quantum realm" as it seems an accepted term of scale.

 

He specifically didn't want to come out and say, I find such and such astonishing, but rather wanted to describe that which he finds fascinating. I had encouraged him to go with the come right out and say it approach, but I cannot say that would have been a better reflection of him.

 

I hesitate to accept a generalization about how physicist write or what kind of language they use as a whole, unless you are referring to scientific journals. DH is a chemistry professor and I would not be able to make the same generalization about chemists as they definitely are, despite their common profession, a varied lot.

 

DS and I appreciate your time and comments. It has been interesting to see his re-assessment of his essay, making changes in some areas, but in other areas explaining his reasons behind his choice.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just to clarify, in that sentence it would be "structure if the quantum realm" but he has added in "other" at the end point. We were both puzzled as to why you had an issue with "quantum realm" as it seems an accepted term of scale.

 

OK, I understand now - I read it as in "structure of the quantum (and other strange realms)". I still do not understand what "structure of the quantum realm" is supposed to mean.

 

He specifically didn't want to come out and say, I find such and such astonishing, but rather wanted to describe that which he finds fascinating.

Yes, but I did not see a description here - I read a lot of general statements. I do not hear fascination. I do not hear excitement, curiosity, being trilled. I just see big sterile words that do not, to me, convey emotion.

 

I hesitate to accept a generalization about how physicist write or what kind of language they use as a whole, unless you are referring to scientific journals. DH is a chemistry professor and I would not be able to make the same generalization about chemists as they definitely are, despite their common profession, a varied lot.

OK, maybe I was too general. So I will rephrase: the physicists I know and work with generally prefer to get to the point of things directly, quickly, and without waste of time; they are usually not impressed by embellishments and colorful language coating simple facts.

There are probably physicists that love this kind of stuff; I just do not know them. Is that better?

 

I really want to help. I do believe that your son has the interest in physics and that he really wants to go to the camp, and he certainly does have a good command of English, I just wanted to share my perspective as somebody in the field.

If I may be brutally honest: my husband said he would not admit the student based on this essay because he comes across as a potential problem student who talks a lot about little and pretends to be knowledgable. these students are a pain to have in a camp. I am pretty sure this is not your son! But I also do not help if I say what a wonderful essay it is and how impressive he sounds- because to us, that was not the case. the person in charge of the camp your son applies to might feel entirely differently.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry, but I have to agree. This paper is boring and gives me no sense of the personality of the student!! Let us take this:

 

Looking at a desk or keyboard, I sometimes find myself visualizing the microscopic realm of molecules, atoms, baryons and quarks forming our immediate universe. This is an example of a world with interior workings so completely at odds with our everyday experiences that the curious mind is at a considerable risk of being boggled.

 

I like the first sentence, but the second sentence sounds so stilted and not like a "real" person.

 

When my friends look at a computer, they see a keyboard. However, I sometimes find myself visualizing the microscopic realm of molecules, atoms, baryons and quarks forming our immediate universe. The endless possiblities are mind boggling! ( I'm not sure if that last sentence will work, because I did not truly understand what he meant by the last sentence in the original. )

 

The second paragraph is fine.

 

I like this part of the last paragraph:

I believe the XYZ summer program provides an opportunity to build upon my present knowledge and interest base. I especially hope to take part in activities or demonstrations of the principles involved. Abstract information about a theory is interesting enough, but a physical illustration of its effects provides a whole new conduit of understanding. Additionally, the summer camp offers the opportunity to experience life on a university campus. I would like to be as prepared as possible before enrolling in college. Having the opportunity in high school to spend a week in a college dorm, immersed in physics, would be an excellent indication of what college might be like. The program will provide a chance to meet students also interested in the field of physics.

 

The rest of it sounds like an obnoxious know-it all. ( Sorry!!)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I really want to help. I do believe that your son has the interest in physics and that he really wants to go to the camp, and he certainly does have a good command of English, I just wanted to share my perspective as somebody in the field.

 

I do appreciate this and your time. :)

 

I have many problems with this essay and it is hard for me to decide how much to step in and require him to re-work it. He has struggled with writing--we started homeschooling because he was diagnosed dyslexic in early elementary. Part of me is just relieved he wrote something. Another part of me wants to hound him until he gets it just right. he has a deadline looming, so there is really only so much time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

The rest of it sounds like an obnoxious know-it all. ( Sorry!!)

:lol:

He actually is a bit of a know it all...but not very obnoxious, mostly because he is soft spoken and takes his time before he speaks. So he is a bit insidiously obnoxious.

 

It is interesting to read your post because I was just thinking that maybe he should rewrite the beginning and stick with the end, and chunk out the middle part. That would probably still give him over 250words.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

He should expand upon his interests and show how he developed them; hopefully from more than the Hitchhiker's GTTG. Perhaps writing the essay as if he were going to a F& SF convention instead of a physics summer camp would help him see the difference in audience needs?

 

I was wondering if anyone would pick up on that. Honestly not sure what to do about it either.

 

Thanks for your thoughts. DS will probably read them after class.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I still think it is good. Not to play the contrarian to everyone else's views :tongue_smilie:, but I do see a certain developing thought there and I actually appreciate the kind of syntax he uses. I would, personally, be far LESS likely to accept a student who wrote a "stereotypical" expectable essay (of the kind choirfarm suggested to reword he first sentence?). I do think it needs some rewording for accuracy, though.

 

What on Earth is going on?! :lol: I am usually the one that is the most "negative" on the threads in this subforum, and now I seem to like something everybody else has issues with. Weird. Maybe becuause this is not lit analysis. But I still think it could decently serve its intended function too, if reworded a little.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Looking at a desk or keyboard, I sometimes find myself visualizing the microscopic realm of molecules, atoms, baryons and quarks forming our immediate universe. This is an example of a world with interior workings so completely at odds with our everyday experiences that the curious mind is at a considerable risk of being boggled.

A totally normal paragraph which *makes sense* - each thought neatly proceeding from the previous one, and I *like* that he avoided trying to make it "lively" (similar to as choirfarm suggested). I think it adds a touch of something serious to it, because it does not sound as "journalist" as many other options would sound.

Only through the relentless pursuit of superior models of the universe over the past few centuries have scientists begun to understand the structure of the quantum and other strange realms.

Needs rewording, but it makes some sense. A greater understanding of the world and its aspects that were invisible to us before is brought about by continuous attempts to describe the world in models that are ever improving, i.e. superior to the ones we had before.

The capacity of the mind to derive near-universal explanations concerning the nature of the cosmos from our examination of it is among our greatest abilities.

Nothing wrong with this sentence IMO.

Regardless of your position on the human timeline, you will find people using this this capacity to make astonishing discoveries. These breakthroughs are, in turn, used to create the quintessential inventions of the age.

This sounds normal to me too. A bit posh, LOL, but I see nothing conceptually wrong with it nor linguistically problematic.

Many disciplines of science are directly involved with the development of explanatory theories. Of these, I find theoretical physics to be the most interesting to think about and the most satisfying to learn about; I especially like black holes and temporal relastatics. Thus, driven by my curiosity, I am interested in pursuing a career in theoretical physics.

From general to specific to personal (science in the context of what he wrote about before, then specifically physics, and his more narrow interests so far). Sounds good to me.

I believe the XYZ summer program provides an opportunity to build upon my present knowledge and interest base. I especially hope to take part in activities or demonstrations of the principles involved. Abstract information about a theory is interesting enough, but a physical illustration of its effects provides a whole new conduit of understanding.

Parsing this, I do not see any problem here either. He has a certain base of theoretical knowledge and interests, which he hopes to further, but also to combine with a practical component offered in the XYZ camp.

Additionally, the summer camp offers the opportunity to experience life on a university campus. I would like to be as prepared as possible before enrolling in college. Having the opportunity in high school to spend a week in a college dorm, immersed in physics, would be an excellent indication of what college might be like.

Then he adds an additional motivation for the camp, the one of experience possibly illustrating what it would be like if he took the road he plans to take further down his educational path. Cool with me.

The program will provide a chance to meet students also interested in the field of physics. After all, TWO sided conversations about time travel paradoxes are much more stimulating and enjoyable than their one sided equivalents.

And he wants peers and emphasizes the element of the dialogue he would get there. A very reasonable reason to list, IMO.

Finally, the program will provide a chance to meet professors and researchers involved in physics. I am particularly interested in meeting this last group of personages because of the questions I might ask on physics and physics education. Areas of inquiry include ideal high school education, online educational resources, current research and the daily life of a physicist.

And he wants to meet not only prospective peers, but also mentors, with whose help he might be better prepared to educate himself ("ideal high school education"), locate additional resources, as well as get an insight into how people for whom this is a profession function.

 

Just WHERE do you guys see problems with his essay? :confused:

 

I do this thing a LOT, reading and correcting and grading papers. Typically not of this kind, and not of this length, so it is different. Still, his essay is:

1) Structurally sound - there is a natural flow from one thought into another, there is a clear beginning progressing towards an end, not a mishmash of random thoughts;

2) Literate (to the extent of sounding posh);

3) Serious, avoids "teen speak" and cheap effects of modern journalism;

4) Personal - written in the context of his interests and aspirations.

 

Barring several inaccuracies in wording, it seems totally reasonable to me. I would be FAR more likely to accept somebody who sounded "serious" and ambitious to me than "teen speak" based on the outbursts of passion. The boy has a goal, wants to learn, knows how to put it in writing, and yes, has a typical ill of literate young minds - the one of being slightly "pretentious" in how he words things, but it takes some time and maturity to find the right balance - and on the whole, I saw no great deficits in this. I am truly interested in hearing where do you see deficits past a few inaccurate wordings that DO need to be fixed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't usually come over to this forum, but I have some free time today and the thread title was interesting to me.:)

 

My kids wrote this kind of essay many, many times for summer math camp applications, and I make admissions decisions for a summer camp of my own. I can give general advice based on our experiences (w/o knowing the specific camp that your son is interested in, it may or may not apply, but most STEM type camp applications are similar).

 

What I look for in a math/science camp essay isn't literary quality or a polished essay as much as a personal statement that clearly answers my questions & concerns (see below). I want to hear the applicant's voice and get to know him or her better. The essay is the best way to introduce yourself to the camp staff.

 

The questions I'm interested in having an applicant answer are these: (I'll pretend that I run a physics camp :))

 

1. What about physics catches his interest and why? Is he interested enough that he'd be happy spending all week (or two or three) immersed in physics? What attracts him to this camp in particular? Is there something in the camp agenda that he's just dying to do? Tell me directly.

 

I see in your son's essay that he mentions black holes and temporal relastatics; can he elaborate? I'd want to know how/when his interest began and more details. He mentioned that he's eager for hands-on lab experiences; does he know in particular what lab opportunities the camp offers and which particulars excite him the most?

 

2. Does his motivation come from within, or is it his parents' idea for him to attend? We really try hard to ascertain this! It's no fun to have kids at camp who don't want to be there (and you wouldn't believe how prevalent it is for the parents to try to force the kids to come to camps since it will "look good on their college resumes"). Does your son learn any physics outside of his assigned studies? If he does, so much the better.

 

This is where he can tell us all of the neat things he does to pursue physics on his own initiative. Tell me specifically about any physics magazines and books he's read, topics researched, any lab stuff he built in the garage, etc. Why does he want a career in theoretical physics? I'd love to find out more about your son, but this is missing in his essay.

 

3. Does he play well with others? Camps are intense social experiences & we look for kids who want to interact with their fellow campers and who show respect for other kids and teachers alike. The staff might be particularly concerned about homeschoolers - afraid that they might want to isolate themselves :tongue_smilie:.

 

I do like the part in your son's third paragraph where he addressed this. Good job.

 

4. Finally, is he a willing learner? The camp doesn't want kids who already think that they know it all; they want kids who are ready to learn. It's hard to demonstrate this, but using lots of fancy words and generalizations in the essay has the opposite effect on the reader. They want to get to know you; they don't need a demonstration of your knowledge or a sense that you're showing off.

 

So, what would I advise your son to do?

 

Cut out that second paragraph,and instead have him elaborate on the topics/questions in (1) and (2). The third paragraph is basically OK, where he talks about wanting to meet and work with other campers and teachers. Remove all the words like 'quintessential' and 'personages', etc., from his essay. They don't sound like they're coming from a 9th grade boy. He should write in a simple, direct, and personal voice, like he's conversing with the reader.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Trilliums, I hope you don’t mind if I chime in. I’m not a physicist, but I spend a lot of time editing business drafts cluttered with extra wording. From a writing standpoint, I see many fundamental problems with the essay.

My editing was clumsy and intended more as a guide than a final draft.

First, who is your son? Nothing in this essay reveals anything about him except this sentence: I especially like black holes and temporal relastatics.

Great! When did he first learn about black holes? What is intriguing about them? What questions does your son have? What books has he read about black holes? What scientists does he follow? Even videos he’s watched can be a jumping off point.

I have no clue on temporal relastics, but he should explain why it’s interesting. When your son talks about physics or thinks about it, what questions go through his head?

Everything I say below is intended to help and it is all said in the spirit of improving the essay.

Looking at a desk or keyboard, I sometimes find myself visualizing the microscopic realm of molecules, atoms, baryons and quarks forming our immediate universe. This is an example of a world with interior workings so completely at odds with our everyday experiences that the curious mind is at a considerable risk of being boggled.

In my view, this paragraph should be scrapped. Every physicist knows the quantum level has different rules. He’s not telling the reader anything they don’t know. He needs to talk about someone the reader doesn't know: himself. His writing should say, "I’m someone really interested in physics. I want to study physics in college and pursue it as a career." Even if the interest is recent, he must have done research to pin down what he finds fascinating.

Open with a personal anecdote: I can remember watching the Disney movie Black Holes as a kid and …. When I was eight years old, I stole my father’s copy of Brief History of Time and devoured it five days…. My feet are covered in drifts of discarded physics essays and I’m trying to put into words my fascination with theoretical physics…

None of these really work, but he should use plain English to introduce himself to the reader. At his age, there tends to be an assumption that flowery words reveals deep thought. Stripping away the embellishments reveals nothing about your son. The reader wants to know him. He or she wants a reason to say yes.

Only through the relentless pursuit of superior models of the universe over the past few centuries have scientists begun to understand the structure of the quantum and other strange realms. The capacity of the mind to derive near-universal explanations concerning the nature of the cosmos from our examination of it is among our greatest abilities. Regardless of your position on the human timeline, you will find people using this this capacity to make astonishing discoveries. These breakthroughs are, in turn, used to create the quintessential inventions of the age. Many disciplines of science are directly involved with the development of explanatory theories. Of these, I find theoretical physics to be the most interesting to think about and the most satisfying to learn about; I especially like black holes and temporal relastatics. Thus, driven by my curiosity, I am interested in pursuing a career in theoretical physics.

With apologies to your son, but again, he isn’t here. Rephrasing everything in everyday speech, the reader knows scientists have been working hard for centuries to understand the fundamentals of matter. Human capacity for abstract thought is our greatest ability. Throughout history, people have thought hard about science. Their discoveries have led to many inventions in use today.

In my view, this paragraph should refer to his previous experience. Although you mentioned he lists previous classes, he should talk about what he learned and what he still wants to learn. These classes must have led to additional questions. What does he want to know? What other areas of physics has he considered? If he’s comfortable, he could mention current research, but I would be very careful as he needs to be 100% accurate. The reader is likely to know far more about physics than your son.

I believe the XYZ summer program [helps me learn more about the day-to-day reality of physics research and study]. I [] hope to take part in [experiments][as I think] the [demonstrations would] provide [greater] understanding. [in addition], the summer camp [lets me briefly] experience university life. [scrapped because everyone wants to be prepared as possible for college] Having the opportunity in high school to spend a week in a college [campus], immersed in physics, would be an excellent indication of what college might be like. [i'm also looking forward to meeting other like-minded students] [scrapped previous sentence as too wordy]. After all, TWO sided conversations about time travel paradoxes are much more stimulating and enjoyable than their one sided equivalents. Finally, [i have many questions about physics and physics education]. Through the program, I can meet professors and researchers involved in physics [who can help me finetune my high school education, find] online resources, discuss current research and [describe] a physicist's life.

I thank the XYZ program for their [consideration-the rest was too wordy], and I look forward to hearing from them soon.

He’s on the right track with this paragraph. What does he expect to get out of the program? Does he know anything about the scientists who will be there? If it’s at a university, what does the university specialize in? What classes will he take? He should reveal more of what he knows about the program. Right now it sounds like he’s applying for any number of summer camps. Why did he choose this program?

The bolded I think is meant to be a bit of physics humor. If it works for a physicist, leave it in, but as a layperson, I found it confusing.

I hope this helps.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ester Maria - your summary and comments have helped me appreciate the essay at a new level. When I first read his paragraphs I was impressed with his deliberate chain of thought as he built up his ideas. I thought, however, his sentence structure and word choice was among some of the oddest I had ever read. I can see his writing is , hrm, hard to access (inaccessible sounds too harsh!). He is very passionate about information in general and generally does have his info right. This does create a certain smugness, but I hope he doesn't come off toooooo much that way.

 

Kathy - thank for this useful summary of what an essay like this should include. I think this straightforward and numbered list of elements to include will help him out a great deal. He is tending towards not including much of the middle part (although it is very interesting to see how attached he can get to certain phrases), expanding on the first paragraph and rewording the last part a bit.

 

Thank you all for you input. I consider us fortunate to have access to do many homeschoolers willing to share their experience.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Erin for the specifics on simplifying his language.

I think that is just my son's humor. Same for the minds being boggled.

 

I also wanted to add that the program offers camps in several different subjects. Not only physics. I imagine the essays are read by a general selection committee at leadt at first. Perhaps specialists in each subject area make the final decision.

 

To further complicate matters, DS has learned of summer session classes he could take instead of the camp. He will still submit the essay (everything else has already been submitted) but he feels a bit torn between the two. I am glad to know he has another option if he doesn't get picked for camp.

Edited by Trilliums
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Since early childhood, I have been immersed in science. Family members have given me works by Richard Feynman, the astronomy lecture series “Vault of the Heavens†by Professor James B. Kaler along with other books on scientific topics. My interest in physics was additionally sparked by the show Star Trek and a Dungeons and Dragons (a tabletop role playing game) campaign settings book. These works of fantasy introduced me to the exploration of science through imagination. From there, I actively sought out new material to think about; reading books/articles, watching videos and listening to audio books on various fields. Eventually, I began to ask such questions as “What might determine where and when an inter-dimensional traveler would arrive upon entering any specific dimension?†or “What would actually happen in a grandfather paradox?†Finding apparently self-congruent hypotheses relating to these often forced me to acquire more information on the topic. For instance, the above question led me to read Edwin Abbot’s Flatland and an online articles on four-dimensional cubes. This led to a cycle of curiosity, inquiry, intellectual satisfaction and growth which I hope will continue for many years. Most of the questions I consider interesting are very advanced and are often beyond the Standard Model of particle physics. Now, for me to say “I do not know nearly as much about physics as I would like†is a massive understatement. So, if I want to formulate anything but apparently self-congruent hypotheses, I will have to greatly expand my understanding of physics.

 

 

I wish to attend the XYZ summer program because it will provide an introduction to the world of academic physics. I especially hope to take part in activities or demonstrations of the principles involved. Abstract information about a theory is interesting enough, but a physical illustration of its effects provides a whole new conduit of understanding. Additionally, the summer camp offers the opportunity to experience life on a university campus. I would like to be as prepared as possible before enrolling in college. Having the opportunity in high school to spend a week in a college dorm, immersed in physics would be an excellent indication of what college might be like. The program will provide a chance to meet students also interested in the field of physics. After all, TWO sided conversations about time travel paradoxes are much more stimulating and enjoyable than their one sided equivalents. Finally, the program will provide a chance to meet professors and researchers involved in physics. This is an exciting prospect because it will allow me to ask questions about modern physics research, and ask for clarification of the answers I receive.

 

 

add in a thank you at end/conclusion

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Since early childhood, I have been immersed in science. Family members have given me works by Richard Feynman, the astronomy lecture series “Vault of the Heavens†by Professor James B. Kaler along with other books on scientific topics. My interest in physics was additionally sparked by the show Star Trek and a Dungeons and Dragons (a tabletop role playing game) campaign settings book. These works of fantasy introduced me to the exploration of science through imagination. From there, I actively sought out new material to think about; reading books/articles, watching videos and listening to audio books on various fields. Eventually, I began to ask such questions as “What might determine where and when an inter-dimensional traveler would arrive upon entering any specific dimension?†or “What would actually happen in a grandfather paradox?†Finding apparently self-congruent hypotheses relating to these often forced me to acquire more information on the topic. For instance, the above question led me to read Edwin Abbot’s Flatland and an online articles on four-dimensional cubes. This led to a cycle of curiosity, inquiry, intellectual satisfaction and growth which I hope will continue for many years. Most of the questions I consider interesting are very advanced and are often beyond the Standard Model of particle physics. Now, for me to say “I do not know nearly as much about physics as I would like†is a massive understatement. So, if I want to formulate anything but apparently self-congruent hypotheses, I will have to greatly expand my understanding of physics.

 

 

I wish to attend the XYZ summer program because it will provide an introduction to the world of academic physics. I especially hope to take part in activities or demonstrations of the principles involved. Abstract information about a theory is interesting enough, but a physical illustration of its effects provides a whole new conduit of understanding. Additionally, the summer camp offers the opportunity to experience life on a university campus. I would like to be as prepared as possible before enrolling in college. Having the opportunity in high school to spend a week in a college dorm, immersed in physics would be an excellent indication of what college might be like. The program will provide a chance to meet students also interested in the field of physics. After all, TWO sided conversations about time travel paradoxes are much more stimulating and enjoyable than their one sided equivalents. Finally, the program will provide a chance to meet professors and researchers involved in physics. This is an exciting prospect because it will allow me to ask questions about modern physics research, and ask for clarification of the answers I receive.

 

 

add in a thank you at end/conclusion

 

Wow, I think that this is much improved & more directed toward the intended purpose of a summer camp essay now! It still sounds like the same writer, but with a more approachable tone. I feel like your son has introduced himself well to the reader and given us a peek into what motivates his interest in physics. It gives me the idea that he's knowledgeable, self-motivated, willing to learn more, and a fun kid to be around. And, hey, if it were up to me, once I saw the mentions of hypercubes and Flatland and Feynman and Star Trek, I'd say 'yes' to this kid.:) (And what are self-congruent hypotheses? - Ill have to look that up later!)

 

I did note that in revising the first half of the essay, he dropped the part concerning his interest in a career in theoretical physics. He might want to insert that somewhere in the last paragraph now.

 

Nice work. Good luck to him!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I like the revised version MUCH better. I get a sense of the student behind it and see what sparked his interest.

I have, however, no idea what he means by self-congruent hypotheses. (Just asked DH, he never heard this term either). So, you have two theoretical physicists puzzled by the phrase.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know...that kid! :lol: He just has to push the limits...but of his mind or thinking of concepts in different ways. Around the house he is not a limit pusher in terms of rules, etc. and is a helpful guy.

 

I had mentioned the self congruency to him when I first read it. I was already familiar with his use of this term because it came up a few months ago when we were discussing his math. He said he was worried he was coming up with solutions that were self congruent (made sense with the limited amount of input he had for a particular problem) but that the solutions might not be universally applicable. It didn't occur to me to even look the word up at that time, but of course we were only discussing whether or not he should take a math class, not assessing how others might interpret his creative word use.

 

Well, this has been an interesting process. DS and I had a long discussion on Sat about his interests and influences. We both came away knowing much more about each other and even ourselves.

I think he read the replies here yesterday and sent off the essay.

 

thank you all!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
I know...that kid! :lol: He just has to push the limits...but of his mind or thinking of concepts in different ways. Around the house he is not a limit pusher in terms of rules, etc. and is a helpful guy.

 

I had no idea my ds had moved in with you Trilliums. I got a sense of him easily from the first draft because I could easily imagine my ds writing it.:lol:

 

Thanks for sharing this process. I will probably use it one day with ds.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...
I had no idea my ds had moved in with you Trilliums.

 

 

:lol:

 

Just wanted to update to say DS will be going to this physics camp. Thanks all for the input.

 

He was thrilled and gave a little happy dance (a bit out of the ordinary for him). Ten minutes later he asked if he could apply to other physics camp as well.

 

Last year he wasn't the slightest bit interested in considering a residential camp. They sure change as they hit the teenage years.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

:lol:

 

Just wanted to update to say DS will be going to this physics camp. Thanks all for the input.

 

He was thrilled and gave a little happy dance (a bit out of the ordinary for him). Ten minutes later he asked if he could apply to other physics camp as well.

 

Last year he wasn't the slightest bit interested in considering a residential camp. They sure change as they hit the teenage years.

 

Congratulations!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

:lol:

 

Just wanted to update to say DS will be going to this physics camp. Thanks all for the input.

 

He was thrilled and gave a little happy dance (a bit out of the ordinary for him). Ten minutes later he asked if he could apply to other physics camp as well.

 

Last year he wasn't the slightest bit interested in considering a residential camp. They sure change as they hit the teenage years.

 

Congrats!! I bet he'll have a terrific experience at camp! :001_smile:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

:lol:

 

Just wanted to update to say DS will be going to this physics camp. Thanks all for the input.

 

He was thrilled and gave a little happy dance (a bit out of the ordinary for him). Ten minutes later he asked if he could apply to other physics camp as well.

 

Last year he wasn't the slightest bit interested in considering a residential camp. They sure change as they hit the teenage years.

 

That's great news. Congratulations!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...