Zai Focuses on Summer STEM
Zai D. is another Grier student who shared with us her amazing summer experience. Zai spent the summer before her senior year at Grier visiting Grier alumna Cas C. (‘18) at the University of Chicago, before attending a program at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, then another program in Washington D.C., and spent time researching with PhD students!
Zai writes that the University of Illinois program, “focused on how creativity can be used in engineering.” There, she had to develop a practical solution to combat food waste. “We interviewed local restaurant workers and a director of a food pantry to better assist in creating our solution. We came up with a smart shelf that would be implemented in grocery stores.” The smart shelf could tell consumers when the food items actually expire because consumer misinterpretation of best-by dates is a leading cause of food waste.
In Washington, D.C., Zai appreciated the opportunity to attend an all-expenses paid two-week program called Koding with Klossy. “We learned about the importance of coding, and the lack of women representation in computer science. During the program we created our own app, and presented it on the last day. The program was started by model Karlie Kloss who we got to meet through Skype on the last day. The program was one of my favorite parts of the summer.”
Zai also participated in research with environmental engineering P.hD students. “We researched how to remove toxins known as PAHs from major bodies of water. We collected soil samples from bioretention cells, and subtracted DNA from them which we further analyzed. It lasted for about one month, and on the last day we presented our research to Professors and other graduate students.”
Wow! Zai had a busy and enriching summer. She says her “summer was really exciting [...] and I am excited to start applying my new skills to my work at Grier.” This year, Zai has a loaded schedule that includes plenty of opportunity to put those STEM skills to use. Along with Honors Global Studies and Honors English, Zai is taking AP Calculus, AP Statistics, AP Chemistry, AP Physics, and AP Computer Science!