Hi, I'm worrying over my "big" essay for Caltech. The prompt asks you to explain how you express "interest, curiosity, or excitement about math, science or engineering" in roughly a page. I was hoping for some feedback, I feel it is still kind of rough.
I may not on the surface appear to be a science, math, and engineering guy. I am a guy's guy in my group of friends. When we hang out, I tell bawdy jokes, lead adventuresome forays, and am full of energy, suggesting a rigorous game whenever we have an even and relatively balanced number of guys and no idea what to do next ("Capture the Flag" and Ultimate Frisbee are two of my most common suggestions). I am known for hosting poker and Risk games and all-night LAN gaming parties (which are, admittedly, great geeky events). But, when observed for any length of time, there is the suggestion that I am not your average, high school student. After awhile, hints that I am at heart a science and math kid can be noticed. One might see the new issue of Scientific American, Popular Mechanics or Discover magazine at my bedside already read to pieces, or recognize that my bookshelf is crammed and bowed with books of Dawkins, Darwin, and the History of Math.
I love everything that most adults I have met claim to be bad at, namely math, science and engineering. From a young age, I have tinkered with Legos, played with calculators, and, much to the dismay of my parents, at times practiced chemistry in the kitchen, sometimes resulting in food, but more often than not a spectacular mess. Many a time, I have lost track of time when engaged in a project more compelling to me than schoolwork. Fortunately, this is most often harmless and results only in a few hours of lost sleep, but, on occasion, I have lost track of an assignment or two due the next day and I had to scramble the next morning. I like to think this tinkering and experimentation as my first "baby steps" into a variety of fields of study. I have experimented in engineering with the construction of countless gizmos and devices over the years; as well as in the field of chemistry, with the few reagents I could scrounge up around the house. I investigated a number of acid-based reactions (though my understanding of what was happening in those reactions has grown considerably since having a few good chemistry courses at the high school). Most recently, I have been stumbling about in the field of rocketry (stumbling is really the only verb I can think of to describe my fits and starts of innovation and design with little or no guidance), experimenting with water rockets. My rocketry seems to be a rather fitting "capstone" experience, combining nearly everything I know in mathematics, engineering, and chemistry (there is some chemistry in what otherwise is an exercise in physics, because, on occasion, I have experimented with using dry ice as a pressurization method).
For me, science is what I love to do. I play around with everything. I am a person who cannot help but ask, "How does that work?" whenever something interesting happens. After a while, and once I begin to grasp what is occurring, I begin to think, "What can I do with this?" After which, I play with a process or a reaction or a mechanism for hours on end until I find that I have nothing else to do with, or learn from, it. So much of my interest in science is expressed at home, in my spare time and not in the presence of others. Sometimes though, it shines through for others to see, such as when I put on weekend rocket launches for my friends or family, or through my involvement in the Math and Science clubs at school.
Let it be noted that math is not a subject I shy away from either. It is merely one which I have much fewer opportunities to explore at home. At school, people see me as that aforementioned guy's guy, but I am also known for mathematical prowess, as it is far more evident to my peers than my science side, which admittedly has shone through far more in recent months with my increasingly popular rockets launches. I am an avid Mathlete, taking part in any competition my school offers, and can come off as the geek in the classroom. Calculus is my favorite class and I leap at the opportunity to use it in my free time. It is far more difficult than one would think to find situations in which the average teenager can apply calculus to a problem, but as an amateur rocket scientist, it does come in handy from time to time.
From my appearance, I seem to be the average high-school student: an athlete and energetic teenager with a wry sense of humor. But on a closer inspection, it may be observed that I am a science and math geek to my core and I am immensely proud of that fact. I know what I am, and if anyone were to ask me, I would admit it with honor.