Shrewsbury second-grader honored for curiosity
By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury- The “Curiosity Challenge” has been a part of the Cambridge Science Festival for seven years and is hosted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a consortium of Cambridge-area museums. There have been thousands of participants from all over Massachusetts and New England and, for the past three years, Kristine Gustafson’s second-grade class at the Walter J. Paton Elementary School has not only participated, but have gone on to win
The festival attracts more than 50,000 people with events over 10 days. There are over 100 activities that incorporate math, art, science, technology and engineering. The culminating event is recognizing the Curiosity Challenge winners on the last day. One of this year’s winners is Anyee Li, a second-grade student from Gustafson’s class.
“Teachers were invited to have students have a letter, poem, painting or drawing to express their curiosity about some aspect of our world,” Gustafson explained. “When Anyee Li walked across the stage to receive her award, she also received a published book to include the winning entries.”
There were 2,600 submissions from students aged 5 to 14 in the Curiosity Challenge. She is so pleased to have Anyee Li recognized for her work.
“Our principal wanted everyone to write a perseverance story, so I decided to show perseverance about a question I was curious about,” Anyee Li said. “I wanted to do a weather journal and see how much time we gained in sunlight over the past month. I recorded sunrise and sunset in my weather journal for four weeks…. I got to see how much time we gained from one day to another day. … In all, the difference was 40 minutes the past month.”
Anyee Li’s family also brought her to the science activities during the festival, including the robotics exhibit. She also met MIT scientist, professor and researcher Dr. Daniela Rus, who encouraged everyone to always be curious. She is the director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and the inventor of the robots that went to Mars, named Curiosity and Opportunity.
“She shared robots that she has invented,”Anyee Li recalled. “One of them is a fish that goes under water and another that can make cookies. But the one problem is that the cookies can only be giant ones. I also got to see a chocolate exhibit.”
The poster board displays filled the room of the auditorium of MIT’s Walker Building, where the awards ceremony was held April 27.
Anyee Li is excited to have won this honor. Her parents are equally as thrilled.
“We are so proud of Anyee Li and we hope she will always be curious,” her mother Hongyan Wang said. “We also feel that a child’s teacher is the most important and influential person in a child’s life.”
Gustafson added, “My spin on that is that the parent is the child’s first and best teacher. My portion is just what happens during the school year, just one small link.”
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