Synthia Feng ’20: Childhood Bilingualism Research Center

Name: Synthia Feng
Class Year: 2020
Major: Linguistics
Hometown: Changzhou, China

Internship Organization: Childhood Bilingualism Research Center
Job Title: Junior Research Assistant
Location: Hong Kong

Synthia Feng

What’s happening at your internship?

I am working as a junior research assistant at Childhood Bilingualism Research Center, which is affiliated under the Chinese University of Hong Kong. We are currently working on several projects at one time. In the past week, we have been doing intensive fieldwork at a local kindergarten, which offers bilingual curriculum, including Mandarin, Cantonese and English. We did CRVT (Cantonese Receptive Vocabulary Test), MRVT (Mandarin Vocab Test), PPVT (English Vocab Test) and WPPSI (working memory test) to Class 2019 (mainly kids of 6 years old). Later we shall input all results and compare them to the same group of children’s test results two years ago in order to monitor and analyze their progress in language learning. Also, we are preparing English educational materials for another projects that will look into the language learning process of children from low SES. We are making English educational videos for them to watch in a 10-month period and then we will test their English level both before and after this time period and evaluate their progress. Other than the two main projects, we are also transcribing adult-child interaction videos, which will later be added to the online corpus of the research center.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I was interested in close, hands-on experiences in a research setting outside of the classroom. I thought that it would be helpful for me to make decisions on my future career path, whether I would be interested enough to do academics and research or whether it would be better to get a job in a company.

Also, when I talked to my friend, Ariel, who interned there as well, she acknowledged that she had some really good experiences with all the people in the research center and she learned a lot from her time there. She especially addressed that this research center does provide tutorials of testing materials and equipment, which are very useful and I believe important to add on to my resume.

Living in a new city? What has that experience been like for you?

It has been pretty nice so far living in Hong Kong. I am renting an apartment with two other girls, who are doing master’s degrees in the Chinese University of Hong Kong and knows the city and the surroundings of the apartment pretty well already. So all I did is to ask, whenever I had questions about living here.

Public transportation in Hong Kong is definitely something I have to get used to, especially when the bus is more convenient than subway, but the amount of buses available here is ridiculous. The worst of all is that some small buses only stop whenever a passenger presses the “stop” button. For someone who is not familiar with that bus route, it is very inconvenient and scary because it is very likely that you get off earlier or later than necessary.

Tessa Pham ’20: Cogo Labs

Name: Tessa Pham
Class Year: 2020
Major: Computer Science, Linguistics
Hometown: Hanoi, Vietnam

Internship Organization: Cogo Labs
Job Title: Software Engineering Intern
Location: Cambridge, Mass.

What’s happening at your internship?

I am wrapping up my remaining projects as we move into the last week of the internship. My work mainly includes maintaining, upgrading, and developing new features for internal tools that the platform team supports. Our company also hosted a hackathon exclusively for all the interns last week, and I, with two other teammates, worked on an app that reports on query traffic, which can be useful for data analysts. This product is in fact among the ones I hope to finish up and officially roll out before leaving.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I applied for this internship because I was fascinated by the model of the company and it seemed to be a great environment for working, learning, and connecting with like-minded people.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

The intern hackathon. It was a very short hackathon, lasting only from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., but we all got to collaborate with interns on other teams to work on ideas that would be beneficial to the company.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced at your internship?

Being the only female engineer on the team. It was a bit difficult for me at first to find common ground to connect with other team members. It really helped that everyone was super welcoming, approachable, and willing to help.

Kylah Fanning ’20: Public Events Intern, The Franklin Institute

Name: Kylah Fanning
Class Year: 2020
Major: Linguistics (Education minor)
Hometown: Westminster, M.D.

Internship Organization: The Franklin Institute
Job Title: Public Events Intern
Location: Philadelphia

If you had told me in February that I would be spending my summer experimenting with the iridescence of bubbles, exploring 3-D augmented reality renderings of planets and moons in our solar system, and helping kids turn balloons and film canisters into rockets, I wouldn’t have believed you. I would have thought I had just heard the description of the coolest job in the world, though.

w naomi

My fellow intern, Naomi, and I wear bike helmets fitted and given away by a Franklin Institute partner to all June Community Night visitors.

I have been incredibly lucky to spend the summer as the Public Events Intern at The Franklin Institute. When I found this internship, while scrolling through the Career and Civic Engagement Center’s internship partners, I was delighted. I had loved visiting science museums growing up, and to share that experience with the thousands of visitors for whom The Franklin Institute Public Events team plans events was an exciting prospect.

As an Education minor at Bryn Mawr, the internship has allowed me to explore a realm of the field of education outside of the classroom setting. In fact, “inspire[ing] a passion for learning about science and technology” is the central mission of The Franklin Institute, and that spirit is baked into everything I do at my internship. For every event, we focus on highlighting certain aspects of the museum — the planetarium and astronomy wing during monthly Night Skies events, for example, or the many family-friendly exhibits of the museum during free, monthly Community Nights. We do this by coordinating extensive teams of volunteers and partner organizations to present event-theme-related activities. This summer, the museum has been celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, and I have gotten to reach out to partners who have brought moon-landing-themed activities to events, coordinate schedules for our volunteers and staff during the Institute’s July Community Night, and taught kids visiting the museum how to make and launch rockets from common household items.

The breadth of responsibilities that I have keeps me on my toes, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Somewhat to my surprise, interning at the museum has opened up the world of informal learning to me as a potential career path. I have immensely enjoyed balancing behind-the-scenes work with interacting with guests during events. It turns out I love the design and experimentation that goes into programming as much as that which goes into a good hands-on science demonstration.

Creating a colorful reaction at the Pride Science After Hours event.

Creating a colorful reaction at the Pride Science After Hours event.

Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of my internship experience has been sharing a love for science learning not only with kids, but with adults as well. The excitement about science is infectious, in the office, and on the museum floor. I love calling adults over to my table when I am showcasing the augmented reality planets — I have something really cool to show you, I say, and watch as they pick up a tablet to appease my request. I hold my breath until the camera focuses on a 2D picture of a planet — maybe, let’s say Mars. And then, just as the image seems to freeze, the 3D, rotating rendering pops up on screen. Without fail, their face breaks into an expression of joy, and wonder at the image on screen, which they can zoom in on, and rotate with their finger, to explore the surface of another world, millions of miles away, in more detail than they likely ever imagined. For a moment, I pause to enjoy our mutual awe at their ability to experience this exploration. Then I ask them if they would like to go back in time, because we can use a feature to see what Mars looked like when it had liquid water. And this time they agree eagerly.

It has been a joy to explore science education through the crafting of immersive, community-oriented public events. Anyone who is interested in checking out events like the ones I have helped prepare this summer should explore The Franklin Institute’s Events and Programs. Bryn Mawr students can discover more amazing internship opportunities through the Career & Civic Engagement Center’s Internship Partners.

Testing circuit boards after soldering them to repair disconnected wires. The circuit boards are used during events like Community Night at interactive, create-your-own-circuit stations.

Testing circuit boards after soldering them to repair disconnected wires. The circuit boards are used during events like Community Night at interactive, create-your-own-circuit stations.