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First Person: Santa Rosa teen’s summer vacation

Montgomery High School sophomore Leif Baxter is shown here with Nobel Prize Winner John C. Mather in Boston. (provided photo)

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Student inspired by science trip

I am entering the 10th grade at Montgomery High School, and I’m a typical teenager in that I enjoy playing Frisbee, bike riding and Instagram. I want to tell you about a unique experience I had this summer being a delegate at the Congress of Future Science and Technology Leaders in Boston, in the hope of inspiring others to do their best in science.

I believe I was nominated to attend this Congress because of my work in my honors physical science class at Montgomery. My research projects were on the subjects of the sun and the renewable energy sources on Earth. I earned a 4.5 overall GPA at Montgomery last year as a freshman.

My experience at the Congress was truly amazing. I heard 26 speakers over the course of three days. Most were leaders in science and technology. A few were motivational speakers, such as the former NFL football safety and stage actor Bo Eason.

Some of my favorite speakers were Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway; Bill Westenhofer, digital illustrator for “The Life of Pi”; Dennis Crowley, founder of Foursquare; John C. Mather, 2006 Nobel Prize Winner in Physics; and Helen Greiner, iRobot founder.

Hearing from all these innovators in science and technology was inspiring for me. Not only did I learn some fascinating scientific facts, but I also learned how each scientist encountered a given set of obstacles, how they overcame those obstacles and how they learned from their mistakes.

At the end of the Congress, I was inducted into the Society of Torch & Laurel, a national honors program for high school students. I also received the National Academy of Future Scientists and Technologists Award of Excellence.

I hope this will help spread information about the Congress to other students passionate about science and technology so that they might be able to attend as well.

— Leif Baxter, Santa Rosa