Derryfied has worked for several years with New Oasis International Education, an organization that helps match international students with an appropriate school in the United States. A number of strong students have come to Derryfield via New Oasis; one such student is senior Kate Jiang, a budding scientist who loves chemistry. Last summer, Kate took the New Oasis annual "Summer Challenge" and confirmed her passion for chemistry and research. This program, according to Kate, “encourages students to start a project on their own during the summer to explore an interest and create an impact on their community.”
Kate hopes to study chemical engineering in college next year, and is taking Organic Chemistry this year, so naturally the field of chemistry was where she focused her effort. Kate’s dad is an engineer who works in the solar industry, and he was able to connect her with the Chinese solar firm GCL-Poly Energy Holdings. Kate interviewed at the firm and was offered the opportunity to participate in the research lab during the summer. To prepare for her summer experience, Kate took some classes with a friend at MIT in Thermodynamics, Organic Chemistry, and Multivariable Calculus, and an online EDEX class on Solar Energy.
One of the aspects of this project that was enticing to Kate was the fact that the company is working on Perovskite solar cells, which is new technology in the solar world. This technology has a greater potential to reach a higher efficiency than traditional silicon cells. As well, Perovskite solar cells are easier to make and apply to surfaces, and are far more flexible than silicon cells. Kate was part of the research group, spending hours in the lab with them, and she found it “super exciting and super fun to be involved in the workings and see science happening.” The employees of the company, who at first thought she was a college graduate, were happy to have her there and to share their expertise. They were very willing to explain what they were doing and made Kate feel a welcome part of the process.
Another aspect of Kate’s summer challenge was to go to rural areas in China and help install traditional solar panels on homes of people in the communities. These panels will not only generate the energy for the families, but also provide them extra income, as excess energy will then be sold back to energy companies. While Kate loved the lab, she also enjoyed her time installing the panels, knowing that she was directly helping someone else’s life.
All in all, Kate had a great experience and is looking forward to next year when she will be even more involved, not just learning and observing. As a wrap up to the project, Kate submitted a 17-page essay analyzing the working principles, techniques, and challenges in the solar energy industry. She also created a video discussing the possibilities of applying this green energy to rural areas (watch Kate's video on the Derryfield YouTube channel
New Oasis thought it was a great experience as well, awarding her second place in the challenge and a gift card, which she promptly used to pay for SAT tests!