Monday, August 24, 2009

A Cogito Update

Back in 2007, with the help of a $1.7 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation, the folks at Johns Hopkins' Center for Talented Youth launched a new website called Cogito, devoted to math and science. The target market? Gifted young people who are comfortable with technology, want to meet other kids like them, and need a safe place on the web to do it.

Building up content and readership always takes time (we're almost celebrating our 4-year anniversary here at Gifted Exchange!), but two years later, Cogito is feeling pretty fleshed out. This week, there's an article on the winners of the International Math Olympiad, an interview with Preya Shah, a top-10 finisher at the Intel Science Talent Search this year, and links to interesting popular articles about math and science around the web.

I'd love to hear feedback from GE readers with kids who are Cogito regulars, and I encourage anyone who hasn't given it a look to check the site out.


Sachi said...

I was invited to Cogito two years ago and made an account, after taking the SATs through Johns Hopkins. Personally, I disliked it a lot, and stopped frequenting it after two weeks. While in theory a good idea (or maybe not—'invitational forum', right, that's going to do a lot for diversity of opinions and lifestyles and people, given the complete lack of CTY diversity I observed in two years of camp) I found that there was a whole 'I'm smarter than thou' attitude that was based off of nothing but bragging about achievements and pet theories with no basis (which they got offended when anyone challenged them on). I haven't been on recently, so I can't say whether this has changed. The debates I got into would go nowhere because kids didn't know how to debate properly, which got really frustrating, though is also a property of people and the internet I will admit (it was exacerbated by the age of everyone on the board and thus the general ignorance and lack of experience, despite being smart). So, while it may be a good experience for some people, and it may have changed, I definitely disliked it. It does some good things, like interviews with people and such, but I won't be going back any time soon.

Kevin said...

My son found both Cogito and the SET magazine "Imagine" boring. He did not find any appeal to the idea of e-mailing or chatting with strangers. And the SET magazine *is* boring, unless you happen to be passionately interested in whatever narrow topic they have picked to fill an issue with.

Anonymous said...

I have used to Cogito site to read the articles and also to find programs/competitions. I have not participated in any forums, so I can't comment on that. I have a daughter entering middle school and I believe I will use the website even more this year to find activities for her.

The Princess Mom said...

I've also found a lack of child-focus in Imagine. I usually read the interviews and that's about all. My kids won't even open it.

Mensa has been wrestling with the same issues CTY has regarding connecting our young members. I'm sure the "invitation-only forum" Sachi mentioned was for safety's sake, to protect children from contact with the proverbial 40yo pedophile posing as a 13yo girl, rather than to limit diversity of opinions, for example.

I think there can be such thing as too educational. Yes, Mensa's kids' magazine issues have a theme and informative articles and resources relating to the theme, but the humor columns and contests generate the most interest.

Anonymous said...

I'm a cogito addict. I do agree that there can be a bit of bragging about achievements, as Sachi mentioned, but I find that generally because everyone is smart, the "smarter than thou" people tend to quieten down after a while because they do get challenged and because there's generally a response along the lines of "So what? How is this relevant to your argument?". There are a lot of exasperating people on it, but that's part of having an internet community with so many very different people.

Anonymous said...

I regularly check Cogito and participate on the forums. I was a host on the site for a little while, but the time commitment got to be too much. I still like to discuss things with the other members. The collaborative, creative forums like the Cultures of the Imagination (CotI) threads were my favorite; it was great designing things like alien life forms and civilizations with other gifted students. Occasionally, there will be a forum whose main purpose seems to be showing off achievements, but those are easy to avoid if you dislike that kind of attitude. Overall Cogito is an excellent resource and, while no substitute for finding other gifted students to interact with face-to-face, is a good network for connecting gifted kids and teens.

Vidushi said...

Last June, I logged on to Cogito for the first time. Since then, this website has provided me with an enormous wealth of positive learning experiences, and even more than that-- the chance to become friends with kids who have a thirst for knowledge. For me, this is more than a community of peers. I'm friends with many people from whom I've learned things I would never have dreamt about before. Before Cogito, I rarely met kids with the same attitude towards learning as myself. I had enough friends, but I couldn't go talk to them about an exciting new math problem or classic novel... it would just make me seem "weird". I feel more appreciated on Cogito, and finally, it's as if I'm not alone.

Also, being a Host on Cogito has led me to form deeper connections with other hosts, which I love. Hosting has given me confidence in my actions on Cogito. This confidence has carried through to my outside life as well.

Thank you, Cogito!

willow_41z said...

I've been involved with Cogito since its inception four years ago; I was then a member of the beta team. Now I'm in college, and the fact that I continue to be involved with it despite a really busy schedule is the best proof I can put forward as to its value, other than the forums themselves. I like it for the resources and for the discussions; I've never found another place like it for reasoned, intelligent, civil, thoughtful discussion. Yes, people call each other names occasionally-- but when you consider how *un*civil adults on the Internet can be, and then consider that the average age of Cogitorians is about 14, it's pretty remarkable. I think it's a wonderful place, but even if you don't like the forums, don't let that turn you off from the host of resources.

Renaissance Man said...

I've been a Cogito member for a year-and-a-half. I've loved the chance for serious discussion and the leadership opportunities I've had as a Host. There are debates, but they are extraordinarily civil. Indeed, when Cogito held an organized debate for members online, professional debate judges criticized both teams for not being argumentative enough!

Cogito has forums for everything, so whether your tastes range from math to engineering to history, you can discuss with other members. The Cogito community is mature and has a great attitude toward learning.

I've never had a problem with the site and it has been a great experience.

knitwit said...

I'm a regular GE reader and the parent of a kid who is an member of Cogito.

Cogito has been wonderful for our child. It is a real gift for like minded kids from all over the world to find each other. It is a pretty amazing thing to for the first time meet another kid who has read the same books and cares about the same subjects. It is nice for kids not to have to wait to graduate school to have that experience for the first time.

The intellectual benefits of these peer relationships should be obvious but the social and emotional benefits are huge too. We've definitely seen leadership skills and interests that first developed on Cogito grow into other aspects of our child's life as well.