Science OCW Geared to AP Courses and Beyond
Lately, we seem to be on a roll with more and more tools becoming available for advanced science students. (Click on the Science category in the column on the left of this Web page to see recent entries.) And now, yet another resource is available.
More and more very reputable universities are making available free video and audio clips, animations, lecture notes, and assignments online. Now MIT has taken that concept one step further and created Highlights for High Schools
. This new site takes the information that MIT had already made available through what’s known as OpenCourseWare and has created a site that categorizes that information to match the Advanced Placement (AP) physics, biology, and calculus curricula.
The site also has just plain interesting, free courses appropriate for gifted high school students, including a class that teaches how to design sets for theater and one on designing toys (both under the heading of Knowledge in Action: Build Stuff).
There are also high school courses created by MIT students such as Guitar Building; a course exploring Gödel, Escher, and Bach; and Combinatorics, a fascinating branch of mathematics that applies to problems ranging from card games to quantum physics to the Internet.
You can also subscribe to an online newsletter that will keep you up-to-date on new courses and other information.
An estimated 10,000 U.S. high school teachers and 5,000 U.S. high school students already visit MIT OpenCourseWare each month, and MIT expects Highlights for High School to make MIT’s course materials even more useful to these audiences.
PBS to Air Documentary on Asperger's Syndrome
PBS is scheduled to air a touching documentary about a man struggling with Asperger's syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder that renders him unable to read social cues and makes him prone to obsessions. Nicky Gottlieb was a child of extraordinary talents and odd behavior. Diagnosed at 20 with Asperger's syndrome, he is like a gifted child in a man's body. This sensitive and candid film by his sister chronicles his struggle to leave the shelter of his loving family.
In most areas the film will air on Tuesday, January 8 at 10 p.m. (EST). However, check your local listing. Click here to visit the PBS Independent Lens Web site for more information.
Acceleration of Gifted Students
Acceleration—moving students ahead at a faster pace than normal—is probably the most effective way of accommodating the abilities of highly able students. While we often think of acceleration in terms of grade skipping, that is only one of many ways to advance a student.
If you are interested in more information on acceleration, or support materials for your advocacy in this area, you will want to view the information posted at the Web site for the Institute for Research and Policy on Acceleration (IRPA)
at the Belin-Blank Center. The comprehensive site is divided into the following sections:
Questions and answers about acceleration—There are general Q&As as well as specific Q&As for parents, teachers, and administrators.
Research—Currently, there is a substantial annotated bibliography posted on acceleration.
Stories of acceleration—Numerous stories of students are listed. There is also a place to submit your own personal stories of acceleration.
Information about staff members at the center
Resources—Listed with Internet links are information on various centers and organizations across the country that support acceleration; early entrance programs; distance learning; policies and practices; and the Iowa Acceleration Scale, which is designed to help decision makers determine if grade acceleration is appropriate for a particular child.
Information on grants—Grants are available for new research on acceleration and also to assist in the dissemination of existing research.
Slide presentation—Available for download, this presentation can be used when giving talks on acceleration.
Just What Are the Capabilities of Gifted High School Science Students?
The Siemens Competition in Math, Science, and Technology
, one of the nation's most prestigious student science contests, gives young people the opportunity to demonstrate and be rewarded for their intense research. Awards were announced Dec. 3, and girls walked away with top honors in both individual and team categories.
Sixteen-year-old Isha Jain, a senior at Freedom High School in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, was awarded a $100,000 scholarship for her studies of bone growth in zebra fish. The tail fins of the zebra fish grow in spurts, similar to the way child’s bones do.
Janelle Schlossberger and Amanda Marinoff, both 17-year-old seniors at Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School in Plainview, New York, will split a $100,000 scholarship for creating a molecule that helps block the reproduction of drug-resistant tuberculosis bacteria.
Alicia Darnell, a 17-year-old senior at Pelham Memorial High School in Pelham, New York, won a $50,000, second place for research that identified genetic defects that could play a role in the development of Lou Gehrig’s disease.
This year, 48% of the contestants and 11 of the 20 finalists were female. It was the first year that girls outnumbered boys in the final round.
Eighty percent of the competitors were from public high schools. One team of finalists consisted of home-schooled girls.
The interest in science for many of the competitors began at home and they began working with mentors
at early ages. Three-quarters of the finalists have a parent who is a scientist. Many of the schools whose students were represented have close ties to nearby universities or research labs. As James Whaley, Siemens Foundation President notes, “There are very few [high] schools that have the resources or labs to support this high level of research.”
For more information, see the following:
Science Video Sharing for Gifted Students
There are more and more groups of professionals who are committed to making information freely available to the public through the Internet. Many universities and scientists are willing to share their lectures and expertise. Instructional videos are available for students of all ages—elementary through graduate school.
SciVee is operated in partnership with the Public Library of Science (PLoS), the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC). It has a relatively new Web site that contains some material for elementary students and larger quantities of material for older students through scientists. Young people who are interested in careers in science will be fascinated by the various topics being studied. Just seeing what is going on at different universities may help students focus on their future objectives.
Examples of videos available at the site include Where Does Water Go When It Rains? Dissections, and Freezing by Boiling. There is also much information on highly sophisticated topics that will be appealing for highly able high school students.
Bio-Alive Life Science is another open access Web site. Available here are university lectures and videos on the human skeletal system, tissue engineering, and aging genes to name just a few.
Some scientists have been amazed at the number of people who are watching university lectures on the Internet now. Viewers come from a wide age range: Some are elementary school children, many are high school students, and others are adults who want to know more about science for a myriad of reasons.
Remember that these new uses of technology are still in their infancy; they are certainly on the verge of exploding, changing the way we learn.