By Michelle Xu

Over a hundred Orange County Science members from different schools across Orange County socialized, bonded and competed at the second annual Youth Leadership Conference on Dec. 3 in the University High School theater.

As an ever-expanding organization, OC Science has reached out to local high schools and created a series of school chapters. The Youth Leadership Conference is an event solely designed for school chapter members to get to know one another - each school chapter sent a delegation of members to attend the conference.

Youth Conference 1

This year, the event consisted of a keynote speech by Dr. Mu-Chun Chen (a physics professor at the University of California, Irvine), an engineering challenge, and a Science Bowl competition, structured after the National Science Bowl.

Dr. Mu-Chun Chen inspired the science enthusiasts with a lecture about her research on fundamental particle masses, the origin of neutrino masses and oscillation, the origin of the matter antimatter asymmetry, and the unification of all fundamental forces into a grand unified theory.

“The world is made of universal building blocks,” Dr. Chen said. “My research is about whether or not there is a simpler theory that can explain this phenomenon.”

Youth Conference 2

After Dr. Chen’s lecture, each of the students got together with members of their own school chapter to take on the engineering challenge. The challenge involved designing a system to move a 9,000 lb elephant onto a rail car. The chapter members drew their designs for the system on a poster, and each chapter was called on to the stage to present their designs.

“As a chapter, I felt like the engineering challenge gave us an opportunity to really build teamwork skills,” Northwood High School chapter president and sophomore Elaine Chao said. “We had to negotiate with other members of the chapter with opposing viewpoints.”

Youth Conference 3

The event concluded with the Science Bowl competition. Each school chapter had to send up a team of three to five members to compete head-to-head with another chapter team. Similar to a quiz bowl, the competitors were given a series of multiple choice science questions. The first team that rings a bell gets to answer the question, and the first team to get best out of three moves on to the next round.

“My favorite part of the event was the Science Bowl,” Irvine High School sophomore Sean Hingco said. “It was fun and exciting.”

Youth Conference 4

The Science Bowl concluded with Beckman High taking third place, Irvine High taking second and Portola High taking first and taking home the honorary Science Bowl trophy.

“YLC was an event specially intended for all school chapter members to meet each other and build leadership and teamwork skills through hands-on activities, while learning about volunteerism and having a little competitive fun as well,” OC Science Vice President of School Chapters Tu Trinh says. “YLC went by extremely smoothly and I'm glad that all of OC Science's hard work paid off in the end, and that we were able to bring such fun to our chapters' Saturday afternoon.”