Why did you choose Biology as your EE?
I chose a bio EE because I want to study medicine and thought this was a way to gain more medicine-related information? To be more medically-prepared I suppose. In retrospect, this wasn’t a very wise decision in terms of trying to prep myself for medicine, since I think a Chem EE would suffice (about antioxidants, etc.). But I think it was good exposure into what Bio research would be like, and just a chance to test your own perseverance (especially if you don’t intend to fabricate any data), to read outside of your textbook and explore the (lovely) world of Biology.
What do you wish you’d known at the start of your EE?
The early (incredibly prepared) bird catches the worm. Know your methodology as best you can. Refer to previous EEs to try to gain a better understanding. Journals aren’t always reliable for Bio EE simply because our lab doesn’t have the equipment. Being ambitious is lovely and all, but we do have restraints.
Go to the lab prepared. A list of solutions to autoclave/prepare (and how to prepare them, I’ve made SO many careless, time-consuming mistakes), the exact number of bottles you need, what you’re going to do for the day. The Bio lab is a lovely place, with lots of friends to be made. IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GOING TO DO AND FOCUS, YOU’RE NOT GOING TO DO WHAT YOU NEED TO DO.
BE EARLY, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. There’s really not a ton of time to spare.
If the situation looks bleak, YOU’LL SURVIVE. (always.) Many, many times I thought I was a goner. I’ve gotten quite the reputation for being “the fail EE girl”. But you’ll survive anyway, and come out a lot stronger.
ASK FOR HELP. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT. JUST BE THICK SKIN, ASK SENIORS, FRIENDS, MDM REENA, YOUR MENTOR, OTHER TEACHERS, ANYBODY. You can’t do this alone, even if you think asking them will burden them (I think it’s fine. HAHA) Go read your senior’s sample EEs too. It gives a good direction on how to write/ go about your EE.
What was the commitment like?
HAHAHHAHAA. IT WAS TERRIBLE AND I DIED IN TERMS OF TIME MANAGEMENT, BUT TOTALLY WORTH IT. Again, if you’re not intending on faking, and made the mistakes I made, I spent a good 100 hours IN YEAR 6 in the Bio lab.
What are some common pitfalls of students who have chosen to take Biology?
Wasting time in the Bio lab, I think maybe reading too much into journals, not going prepared (in starting your EE and in the labwork).
What skills would you specifically need for an EE in this subject?
Patience and perseverance, a passion for science, science-journal reading skills, possibly some lab work skills too (this you can pick up along the way)
Do you have any regrets choosing this EE?
It was painful, but totally worth it. ^^
Louiza is from the graduating batch of 2014. She studied Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics HL in the class of 6.04.
Another advantage of Bio EE is that there are a lot of competitions to take part in, which:
– Provides an avenue for experts to judge your work and give you feedback
– Forces you to finish your EE earlier, and be more familiar with your project (it lifts your burden a lot)
– Allows you to win prizes, and the prizes are pretty legit (e.g. in Singapore Junior Water Prize 2014, ACSI won 2nd prize ($3000), Merit ($500) and Commendation ($300))
– You get the chance to see other people’s projects, where you can learn stuff and possibly even find ways to improve your project from them.
– Gives you the opportunity to meet people from all over the world in international competitions, allowing you to learn more about interesting scientific developments/fields of interests of other countries. (I participated in the Tsukuba Science Edge in March 2014 held in Tsukuba, Japan, and made quite a few friends there who I still keep in contact with!)
＊This applies to Chemistry and Physics EEs too, but some competitions are more restrictive (e.g. Singapore Junior Water Prize is only for water-related projects), so it’s good to know what competitions are available before choosing your projects too!
List of Competitions that I know of (some may have already been discontinued):
– Singapore Science and Engineering Fair
– Singapore Junior Water Prize
– NEA Clean & Green Environment Project Competition
– Greenwave Project Competition
– Tsukuba Science Edge (Tsukuba, Japan)
– Yohohama Science Frontier Forum (Yokohama, Japan)
– International Conference for Youth (Seoul, Korea)
– Japan Super Science Fair (was held in Kyoto, Japan in 2014)
– International Student Science Conference (changes location every year; ACSI participation was in Hong Kong in 2012)
– Global Science Link (changes location every year; first held in Singapore in 2014)
Do note that some of these competitions require you to register independently, especially the international ones. If you have any questions about any of the competitions/how to participate, do leave a comment!
Alex Cheah is from the graduating batch of 2014.