Today was the last day I had volunteered to help at the Aerospace English Summer Camp. As luck would have it (well, not for her) one of the other teachers called in sick, so I was able to help out with her class. Her class seemed more talkative, I think. Also, I have to commend their English naming; one guy said his Chinese name meant “tree”, and my heart sank . . . but then he said, so I chose the name Troy. Right on!
They started off presenting their ideas for their final presentation on Friday – holographic projection and virtual reality. To my surprise, neither Obi Wan Kenobi nor the Oculus Rift were mentioned in the presentations. But there were videos of Stephen Hawking talking about One Direction and of some pretty incredible special effects from the Spring Festival gala, so it worked out. They were pretty passionate about their choices, but in the end I helped them see that they could combine the two topics into one, something like visualizations of the future. And everyone was happy :)
I brought my 3D printed brain in today as a fun topic for discussion. I asked them what it was, how it was made, why it looks like a walnut, etc. They seemed to think it was pretty cool, although they hadn’t prepared anything about the brain so they didn’t really have the vocabulary for the discussion.
To fill the rest of the time in that period, I asked them about a news article I saw on Baidu the other day. I often look at the stories on the Baidu homepage, and sometimes understand what’s going, but I rarely see things that relate to me at all. So when I saw the very distinctive main gate of Tsinghua in one article, I had to read it. Apparently a guy had put a ring on a drone and was flying it over to the women who were taking pictures in front of the gate, until the guards shut it down and took away his drone. I thought this would be an interesting topic to talk about (it has it all – science, love, action and adventure!), but the students told me it was all staged – even the guard was fake, they said. They were trying to go viral, and it worked . . .
We’re allowed to talk about non-science and technology things some of the time, so for the last period I asked them for book and movie recommendations. The most intriguing book (besides Sophie’s World, which is on my bookshelf at home but I haven’t read yet) was 藏在这个世界的优美 (The Beauty Hidden in This World), written by a Chinese woman who traveled to 80 different countries. There was only one girl in the class, and she recommended Twilight. I tried to be encouraging, and to get her to speak more English asked her if she was Team Edward or Team Jacob (Edward, she answered, without hesitation). So there you have it.