Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Siemens Competition swept by public residential high school kids

I spent yesterday covering the announcement of the winners of the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology for Scientific American. You can read my story here. The Siemens Competition awards up to $100,000 scholarships to top high school researchers. Unique among the major high school science competitions, students are also allowed to compete in teams.

So there were three top winners -- one individual (Wen Chyan) and one team (Andrew Guo and Sajith Wickramasekara). Chyan hails from the Texas Academy of Math and Science, a residential public school for gifted juniors and seniors in Denton (by University of North Texas). Guo and Wickramasekara hail from the North Carolina School of Science and Math, a residential public school for gifted juniors and seniors in Durham, NC (near Duke University). There was also a student from my alma mater, the Indiana Academy among the smaller scholarship winners.

Given that public residential high schools enroll an extremely small percentage of the overall high school population, I think this is certainly worth noting. Creating such schools requires a state to consider gifted kids a priority. Frankly, I wish they were from K-12, but I'll take 11-12 (or 10-11-12 in some cases). Public residential high schools can concentrate gifted kids and give them accelerated classes in an environment with their intellectual peers - 24 hours a day! The results? Well, I think the Siemens Competition made that pretty clear.


Anonymous said...

I just read "Talent is Overrated" and I'm currently reading "Outliers" (because you mentioned them and they sounded interesting).
What strikes me reading this article is that a student at a residential high school would have the time and opportunity to do exactly what both books say is necessary for mastery, which is dedicated practice.

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