The Young Scientists: America's Future and the Winning of the Westinghouse

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Every few months, American newspapers publish another dreary statistic about the country's scientific ignorance. But there are schools in the U.S. - like the Bronx High School of Science and Stuyvesant High School in New York, and the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham - that are exceptions to this gloomy picture, that may show the way for this country to develop the scientists and researchers we need to maintain our economic and technological stature. These are the schools that year after...
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Overview

Every few months, American newspapers publish another dreary statistic about the country's scientific ignorance. But there are schools in the U.S. - like the Bronx High School of Science and Stuyvesant High School in New York, and the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham - that are exceptions to this gloomy picture, that may show the way for this country to develop the scientists and researchers we need to maintain our economic and technological stature. These are the schools that year after year win the Westinghouse Science Talent Search, the nation's most prestigious academic contest. They have evolved winning systems because, above all, they teach their students how to do research. Students do science, rather than just study it. And the students, whether they win the Westinghouse or not, go on to establish solid careers in science. Early training works. The proof is in some remarkable statistics. Five teenaged Westinghouse winners have gone on as adults to capture the Nobel Prize. Eight have been awarded MacArthur Foundation Fellowships. Twenty-eight are members of the National Academy of Science. In short, winning a Westinghouse is remarkably predictive of later success in science. Just as the best pianists and ballet dancers are those who have been taught their craft in childhood, scientists too are bred at an early age. The Young Scientists looks at what makes the winning schools and students, and at how parents and teachers can help.

Every few months, American newspapers publish another dreary statistic about our country's scientific ignorance. But there are schools in the U.S. that are exceptions to this gloomy picture. These are the schools that, year after year, win the Westinghouse Science Talent Search, the nation's most prestigious academic contest.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
By examining the schooling and family background of a dozen winners of the annual Westinghouse Science Talent search, New York Times journalist Berger hopes to illuminate ``what works in science education.'' The Westinghouse, begun in 1941, selects 40 winners every year from among the projects submitted by as many as 1700 high school students. Among Berger's detailed profiles of recent winners are young people of various social status; indeed, one of the few factors that can be isolated in a Westinghouse winner is the work ethic as a necessary condition for early achievement in science. Berger also observes that immigrant families with a ``frontier spirit'' have produced a disproportionate number of winners. The teachers and students Berger interviewed are earnest and dedicated and their success stories are inspiring, but no deeper analysis is offered in this anecdotal overview. For a full pedagogy and programmatic approach to the subject, readers should see John Cronyn's recently published Uncommon Sense . (Jan.)
Library Journal
New York Times bureau chief and education writer Berger focuses here on an unusual and too-little-noticed group of high schools and students: those who have won the prestigious Westinghouse Science Talent Search. Interweaving the stories of dozen of previous winners, their teachers, and their mentors, Berger aims both to honor and to demystify the contest and the schools that produce the lion's share of the winners, many of whom go on to win Nobel Prizes and the like. Though not intended as such, this book is a sort of primer on old-fashioned teaching, emphasizing dedication, resourcefulness, the spirit of inquiry. Indeed, many of the high school science teachers who produce winners are astonishingly ``average'' in science. Thus, this book is worth a dozen government reports on what's ``wrong'' with science education. A minor flaw--if it is one--is the New York Times -ese writing style, which tends to pall but which certainly makes the book accessible.-- Mark L. Shelton, Athens, Ohio
Booknews
The education writer for The New York Times investigates the characteristics of the young people who have won the prestigious Westinghouse award for science--their personal qualities, their education, and the family support they've received. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780201632552
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley
  • Publication date: 1/28/1993
  • Pages: 256
  • Lexile: 1220L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.42 (w) x 9.49 (h) x 1.02 (d)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2000

    The best book I have.

    Science, according to a teacher at Midwood school, is an acive verb. 'To science is to discover how the world works. Scientists hypothesize, analyze, synthesize, and explore. He constructs, collects, and records. She experiments, searches, and computes. They discuss, read, write, dismantle. clean, and repair.' After reading this book, as a student, I want to be a scientist. Science teachers will know how to be good ones. Parents will learn what they can do best for their kids. And scientists will want to nurture the young scientists. This is a powerful, inspirational book for everyone interested in science and the spirit of human.

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