Friday, February 2, 2007

Scientist Friday 2/2

There are 40 scientists to recognize this week.

That's because they're the 40 finalists in the Intel Science Talent Search, kind of a science fair on steroids. These seniors competed for over half a million dollars in scholarships - with the top prize a scholarship of $100,000. Those who made it into the top 40 received at least a $5000 scholarship and an Intel (of course!) laptop.

As usual, the state of New York dominated the awards, producing 12 of the 40 finalists. The winners are also disproportionately from special, state- or large-city-wide science/math magnet schools.

These high school students have been working with university faculty to investigate everything from methods of predicting sunspot movement to measuring passive love to leadership change, violence, and the cycle of relative power.

You know, we could do this too! There are students at HHS who have the potential to compete at this level. But it wouldn't necessarily be easy.

Here's what we'd need:

  • First, more support for gifted programs & enrichment at the secondary level.
  • Second, a strong partnership with university faculty. Most FHSU science faculty I've met - and had the privilege to work with - would *love* to mentor a high school student at this level.
  • Third - and probably most important - we'd need a feeder system, where students who are interested in science are nurtured and encouraged from the early years to take more science classes, go to summer science camps, and participate in academic competitions.

It would be nice, of course, if we could promise that the winners would receive signing bonuses, endorsements from calculator companies, and cute/handsome cheerleaders shouting "Hold that thought! Hold that thought!
But we all know that the nerd factor is a tough one to shake . . . that's a topic for another day.

Meet the winners here. And go here for a lighter look at real geniuses and science fairs.

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