2 Sep 2019

HKU International Symposium on STEM Education


The Academy for the Talented, organised by the University of Hong Kong, is a unique programme which brings top students together from a diverse network of schools across the world, with an aim to realise students’ intellectual potential and to enhance their personal development. Our Year 11 student, Sophia Li, was in the Academy in the past summer and enjoyed the programme. Below is her reflection on the programme.

Summer for me is habitually a time for visiting overseas family, and a time in which I complete only a minuscule fraction of the work that I set out to accomplish. However, this year, an opportunity arose for me to attend my first summer programme at the University of Hong Kong. Upon receiving confirmation of my place at the Academy for the Talented’s International Symposium on STEM Education 2019, I was excited to reach out to my assigned group.

At first, collaboration with the entire group was unfeasible due to firewalls hampering communication, and other members being away on vacation. Consequently, myself and two other group members commenced preparatory work by brainstorming project ideas surrounding the theme of “Innovation and Transformation for Better Living,” coming to a consensus of wanting it to benefit those suffering from a medical condition. We then refined our scope and decided on proposing a vibrating device to counteract Parkinson’s tremors, which was in great part inspired by Microsoft’s Project Emma.

After further research, we moved onto the design phase of our project, which encompassed the internal and external design of the device itself, its mobile companion app and program. Our point of innovation was that unlike the Emma Watch, our wearable device would aid Parkinsonians with any task — not only writing.

Proposed product design

Two weeks later, my team met in person for the first time and found that we had much in common. During the four-day symposium, we stayed at the Marden Ward and attended various engaging talks at the Centennial Campus by speakers with diverse backgrounds. The talks covered the key themes of Public Health, AI and Big Data, Fintech or Design, and were supplemented by a joint talk on Global Warming by HKU professors who held drastically differing views on the matter, encouraging the audience to come to our own conclusions. We also visited the Microsoft Experience Center where we learned about their new cutting-edge technologies, and visited a few tourist attractions such as The Peak and the Jumbo Floating Restaurant, at which we feasted on a hearty and fulfilling dinner. 

Before our final presentation, we worked until early morning to finalise our pitch. Although tiring, it was worth the effort as our product pitch and subsequent Q&A session went smoothly. We all emerged with more confidence in communicating ideas to a large audience, and a renewed sense of hope carried by our generation. To mark the end of the symposium, we were all invited to attend a high-table dinner at St. John’s College, in which the traditions and customs of the historical college really showed. 

Sophia with two of her group members dressed in college gowns prior to the high-table dinner

I am extremely thankful to have been given the opportunity to participate in such a remarkable program, and my thanks extend to the school for nominating me to be an Academy member. I have gained great opportunity to work with like-minded students from around the world, while gaining thought-provoking insight into new ideas by attending inspiring lectures and engaging with experts in the STEM field.

Sophia Li, 11X2