Biochem at the Beach | Anna L.

Welcome to the ultimate SSP getaway! Armed with tropical Zoom backgrounds and virtual sunglasses/pirate hat filters, my fellow SSPers and I logged into Campus Activity Block ready to take on whatever activities were in store for us on our first ever spirit day. Little did we know we would find ourselves entangled in a series of tropical murders in the game Alibi 2.0, organized by Team 11. 

Round one of Alibi 2.0. It may be beach day, but watch out!

Coming up with outlandish and intricately detailed stories on the spot to avoid being accused of the murder might sound like an intense way to start the day, but it’s exactly the kind of thing I’ve come to expect from SSP. Each day, there are countless opportunities to enhance not only our learning but also our ability to get creative and have fun. Some highlights included getting to hear some pretty awesome accents (including a scarily convincing Dr. One impression!)

Right after Campus Activity Block came Class Activity, where we got to hear from Dr. Zeilstra-Ryalls about the FDA Drug Approval process. We learned about COVID-19 variants, vaccines, clinical trials, and also got to read over and discuss the actual transcript of the COVID-19 FDA panel. Being able to connect what we’ve learned in SSP to a real world context is something that is always super interesting and exciting, especially considering how relevant the topic of vaccination currently is. We analyzed the debate from the FDA panel about whether to approve vaccines for 16-17 year olds (our age group!!), and evaluated arguments from both sides, forming our own opinions based on the data. What we’ve learned made me realize that, even as a high schooler, thinking critically about the science in our lives is an important skill. My group had a few laughs about the transcript’s inclusions of “I think you’re muted!” and “We can’t hear you” – funny interjections in a seemingly intimidating and mysterious FDA panel. 

Try out Dr. Zeilstra-Ryalls’ puzzle!

And finally came TA block. As our to-do lists piled on and on, my group mates and I realized that we still had to finish our introductions for the final report, which were due the next day! It was a race against time as we scoured through the papers we had collected previously, and strung together facts to create a cohesive argument for the reasoning behind our project. Some TA blocks were pretty chill – we spent time watching lectures or doing Labsters at our own pace – but not this one! My team was in deep focus the whole time, tracing citations through multiple papers to find the original source of data to cite. I ended up going in circles occasionally, but on the bright side, I did learn an interesting fact: every year, fungi release 50 million tons of spores into the air! Fun! 

As time went on, though, my introduction started taking shape and the rest of the research went smoothly. Reading the introductions of the various research articles and trying to write in that style can be daunting, and I hope eventually I’ll be on my way to writing just as professionally. My rough draft was just a start, and this is what SSP teaches us to do– dive in, collaborate, persevere, and aim for the stars.