Claire Zhu is a sophomore at Bridgewater-Raritan High School in New Jersey. She learned to code during the COVID-19 pandemic and since then has been dedicated to growing her knowledge and challenging herself. She also works outside of school to help her community by teaching Python classes to young kids over Zoom. In her free time, Claire enjoys listening to music, baking, and teaching herself new hobbies such as crocheting and playing the guitar.
At school, Claire is taking an AP U.S. History class where she learns extensively about American history and participates in debates, mock trials, and speeches. Her research about the Constitution has not only helped her in the class, but also improved her general understanding of the American government. She hopes that users of her ChatBot can learn something new about the Constitution and the country that they live in.
Click here to see her Winning Stem Project!
Our Interview With Claire
Was this the first time you entered the contest?
Yes! This was my first time and it was a really great experience! I learned a lot and had fun challenging myself. I will definitely be applying to the contest next year as well.
How did you hear about the contest?
I actually heard about the contest on an Instagram post about upcoming scholarships and contests. I was intrigued by the fact that it seemed to be related to history and noticed that it was available for high schoolers, which seemed like a perfect opportunity for me.
What inspired your work?
A chatbot was not actually my original idea, I wanted to make some kind of game instead. There was this one specific iCivics game about the branches of power that I thought was really fun and I wanted to recreate it. But, after doing some research on the Constitution itself, I noticed how well separated each part of the Constitution was – with the Preamble, Articles, and Amendments – and it would work perfectly for a chatbot.
What did you learn while creating your entry?
I learned a lot more about Python and using it to develop a project. I had some prior experience with the language, but working on my ChatBot helped me get first-hand experience applying my knowledge. Something cool I learned was how to get each letter to type out one by one like a typewriter – I think it adds a nice unique touch. I also learned a ton about the Constitution itself. I had always known the basics of the Constitution from history classes, but after researching it more in-depth, I was able to understand the specifics of each part a little bit more.
How do you plan to spread the word this year to your peers about the importance of the U.S Constitution?
I would love to share my chatbot with my peers and my teacher in my U.S. History class. I think they would really enjoy it, especially since we have been learning about American history all year. I think it would also be really cool if I could reach out to some of my elementary and middle schools and share my work with young students.
How do your friends respond to history or talking about the Constitution?
Many of my friends take the same U.S. History class as I and we often discuss the topics we are learning in the class. Whether that be funny phrases from the textbook or interesting fun facts, I always have a good time talking about cool American history.
What do you love about U.S History and the forming of our government?
I love that U.S. history is always surprising and interesting. There’s always something new to learn and connect with. I love watching our country grow and develop over time, and it really puts my life into perspective when comparing it to the decades of the past.
Which U.S. historical site would you like to visit?
I would love to visit Yellowstone! I’m not sure it’s considered a historical site, but it has a lot of interesting landmarks that I feel like everyone needs to see at once in their life. My family is a big hiking family, so I would love to explore some of the beautiful trails. I’ve also always wanted to see a geyser and learn more about the supervolcano there, hopefully before it erupts!
Who is your greatest role model?
One of my greatest role models is my older sister. We spend a lot of time together and know each other very well. I have loved watching my sister grow up through the years and learn who she is and what she wants. I can admit that as the oldest, she has really helped pave the way for me and I will always be grateful to her for that.
What in your life are you most passionate about?
I’m passionate about not wasting time in my life and working hard to get what I want. I often overthink, and I try to constantly remind myself to just take that leap of faith. I try to take advantage of all opportunities coming my way and put my all into them, no matter how difficult or challenging something is. This is really important to me because I often hold myself back from great experiences simply due to embarrassment or anxiety.
How do you spend your free time?
I like to spend my free time learning and trying new things. This includes not only coding, but also crocheting, playing the guitar, and crafting. I like watching interesting movies that either have a crazy plot or beautiful visuals. When I get the chance, I often hang out with my friends and my sister by getting good food or visiting New York City.
What are your plans for the future?
I’ve always wanted to work in a STEM-related field, whether that be computer science or engineering. Math and sciences are the most interesting subjects for me, though history is not far behind! In the near future, I’m going to continue to work hard and push myself to get into the best college I can.
If you could do one super impactful thing to help people, what would it be?
This is a pretty loaded question since our world has been pretty bleak recently, but I would say in the scope of what I can do personally, I would just want to make my community and the people around me happier. Whether that be complimenting a stranger or volunteering at events, I want to help people by making a small but important impact.
Why is the Constitution relevant today?
I think the Constitution is incredibly relevant today since it is the foundation of all our laws and government. It regulates not only how the country itself works, but also every citizen’s personal rights. The Constitution was the defining document of the past and it will continue to be significant throughout our future.