On March 16th - 17th, China Thinks Big (CTB) was held successfully at ShanghaiTech. Inspired by the Harvard Thinks Big competition, China Thinks Big carries forward the idea of innovative research and social practice at Harvard University, encouraging teenagers to “Think Big, Start Small” and help them to discover their interests by exploring important global issues and focusing on localized innovative solutions.
180 teams of high school students from more than 10 provinces and 100 well-known high schools participated in the two-day national competition. The teams presented their innovative solutions to interdisciplinary challenges, covering humanities, science, technology engineering and social sciences. After fierce competition, the eventual winners will represent China to participate in the finals held at prestigious North American universities such as Harvard, MIT and Stanford.
The competition included a public exhibition area where the contestants introduced their projects with enthusiasm and patience, including research background, problem elaboration, research process, result analyses and solutions. Before the national tournament, the contestants had already been competing for half a year. Under the guidance of scholars from famous Chinese and international universities, they not only completed literature review, field research and independent paper writing but also refined their solutions through practice. In the process, young contestants presented and strengthened their skills in critical thinking, presentation and teamwork.
51 professors were invited to serve as volunteer judges at the defense stage. The organizer requested the judges to reject homogeneous standards, and to make objective evaluations to test the project scheme in a complex social environment. The criteria, emphasizing solving social issues, consisted of academic innovation, tech innovation, business innovation, social innovation and art innovation. “The biggest gains I've got from CTB were collaboration, creativity, and perseverance. CTB made me believe in my ability to think big: this experience will not become the end of my academic research, but the starting point for me to identify social issues and try to make a difference”, one contestant commented.
At the closing ceremony, Ms. Sasha from McKinsey, Mr. Qin Zhiyong from Tron Venture Capital, SLST Professor Cang Yong, and SEM Professor Yang Lifeng encouraged the participants’ performances and gave their own insights on how to realize self-worth in society. ShanghaiTech Deputy Dean Dr. Jiang Ge, presented awards to the winning teams.
ShanghaiTech, including many different departments had attached great importance to the event from the planning stages and worked together to ensure a successful event. Organizer Sundar Solai, president of the Harvard College Association for U.S-China Relations, praised the competition for efficient team managements and ShanghaiTech for its advanced school philosophy, and said he expected more in-depth cooperation with ShanghaiTech in the future. ShanghaiTech organized a series of campus visits for participants, teachers and parents, including visits to different colleges, research platforms and introduction to ShanghaiTech’s admission process. Many of the contestants were impressed by the high-quality scientific research resources and learning atmosphere at ShanghaiTech and hopefully will consider ShanghaiTech for their university education.
The success of the China Thinks Big competition builds a bridge between ShanghaiTech and top high schools in China. Thanks to the influence and appeal of Harvard University, ShanghaiTech has learned more information about methods and channels of internationalization promotion and enrollment, which will help us to cultivate our students’ global vision and guide them to become international talents that will serve the needs of both China and the world.