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Davidson Institute July 2013  

             What's New in Gifted Education | Davidson News | Legislative & Policy News | On the Web | In the News | In the Spotlight
   What's New in Gifted Education
  Google Global Science Fair Finalists - The Next Generation of Novelty in Science
Thiel FellowshipEight Americans comprise 15 of the recently announced Global Finalists for the Google Global Science Fair. The finalists’ projects are on a number of innovative, wide-ranging issues, including a propulsion system for underwater vehicles; a cost-effective method of managing the impact of infrastructure projects on endangered species; and, projects that have the potential to combat breast cancer, the flu, melanoma and more. Click here to see a list of the world-wide finalists. Sources: The Oregonian, International Business Times

2013 Class of Thiel Fellows – An Innovative Approach to Higher Education
Thiel FellowshipThe 2013 class of young entrepreneurs to be awarded 20 Under 20 Thiel Fellowships was recently announced. Each student was awarded a $100,000 grant that encourages lifelong learning and independent thought. This was the third set of Thiel Fellows, who do not attend college for two years and are encouraged to focus on their ambitious ideas, work, research and self-education. Recipients of the two-year Thiel Fellowship, 20 students under the age of 20, pursue innovative scientific and technical projects to gain insight on entrepreneurship. Click here to read about the 2013 class. Sources:, Business Insider

Jack Kent Cooke Foundation - Helping Advance the Need of Gifted Students
Thiel FellowshipThe Jack Kent Cooke Foundation (JKCF)
is dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need by providing scholarships, grants and direct services to students from elementary through graduate school. The Foundation’s Young Scholars Program offers personalized and comprehensive educational advising and financial support to students from the 8th grade through high school. The application period opens in January, and up to 60 JKCF Young Scholars are selected each year.

The Foundation also offers, among other scholarships, the College Scholarship Program, which is available to high-performing high school seniors seeking to attend the nation’s best colleges and universities. College Scholars receive up to $30,000 per year, college planning support, ongoing advising, and the opportunity to network with the larger JKCF Scholar community. The application period begins in late August. Up to 40 College Scholars are selected for this program each year.

   Davidson News
  The Davidson AcademyThe Davidson Academy of Nevada
A free public school, The Davidson Academy of Nevada encourages and supports the abilities, strengths, and interests of profoundly gifted middle and high school students who score in the 99.9th percentile on IQ or college entrance tests, such as the SAT or ACT. If you are interested in applying to The Davidson Academy for the 2014-2015 school year, the application will be posted later this summer. Please visit the How to Apply page, the Qualification Criteria page and the Application Review Process page for more information.

Prospective students interested in receiving email updates about the Academy can subscribe to The Davidson Academy eNewsletter by clicking here.

Upcoming Tours for Prospective Students
Each month during the school year, The Davidson Academy hosts a tour for prospective students and their parents. At these tours, visitors meet current Academy students, parents, faculty and staff, and ask specific questions about the school. Our upcoming school tours will be held on the following Fridays: Sept. 20,
Oct. 18, Nov. 15 and Dec. 13. RSVPs are required. For additional details and to RSVP, please visit the Tours page.

EXPLORE Test to be offered at The Davidson Academy in October
The Davidson AcademyIn conjunction with the University of Iowa’s Belin-Blank Exceptional Student Talent Search (BESTS), The Davidson Academy will serve as a test site for the two-hour EXPLORE® test on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013. The EXPLORE® test, developed by ACT for eighth graders, is an effective above-level test for younger students (grades 4-6), and provides the opportunity to demonstrate their advanced abilities. An EXPLORE® test score can be used in the context of eligibility criteria for the Davidson Young Scholars program as well as The Davidson Academy. The goal of BESTS is to discover students who need further educational challenge to fully realize their academic talent. To register visit here.

Davidson Young Scholars
Davidson Young Scholars
The Davidson Young Scholars program provides FREE services designed to nurture and support profoundly gifted young people and their families, including talent development and educational advocacy, an online community, annual get-togethers, and the Ambassador Program. Applications are due the first of each month. For more information, visit the How to Apply and Qualification Criteria pages.

Davidson Fellows2014 Davidson Fellows Scholarship
The Davidson Institute offers $10,000, $25,000 and $50,000 Davidson Fellows scholarships to students 18 and under whose projects have the potential to benefit society, and are at the college graduate level. Application categories are in the STEM fields, Humanities and Outside the Box. Applicants must be 18 or younger as of October 1, 2014 to be eligible.

Educators GuildEducators Guild
The Davidson Institute's Educators Guild is a FREE national service for active elementary, secondary and post-secondary educators, as well as other professionals who are committed to meeting the unique academic needs of gifted students. You can become a member of this online community with access to free consulting services and Educators Guild publications by subscribing here. There is also an Educators Guild discussion group on Facebook - join today!

   Legislative & Policy News
  CALIFORNIA – More students in the Burbank Unified School District are taking Advanced Placement and honors classes than ever before, however grades have slightly dipped in tandem with giving access to a greater number of students. Source: Burbank Leader

COLORADO – A recent Colorado Department of Education review of Boulder Valley's gifted education program suggested the need for more consistency in gifted programming and better monitoring of student growth in the school district. Source: The Daily Camera

FLORIDA – The Miami-Dade County school district has seen a 50 percent increase in the identification of gifted students since 2003. This change is due in part to the training of parents and educators to recognize advanced students across student populations and the adoption of gifted programs on all school campuses. Source: Miami Herald

ILLINOIS – Following a revamp to the Glen Ellyn District 89 "Challenge Program," additional students in grades two to five are expected to participate in the gifted program. Previously, students had to score in the 90th percentile or above, in both math and reading assessments, to be eligible. With the changes, students will be tested in single subjects; a student who qualifies for either subject will be pulled out of his/her regular classroom for three hours each week, or six hours if deemed eligible for both subjects. Source: Chicago Tribune

A judge ruled that gifted minority students have been discriminated against in Elgin School District U-46. Judge Robert Gettleman determined the district discriminated against Latino students when it placed them in a separate, segregated gifted program. Source: Daily Herald – 7/25, 7/11

MINNESOTA – Austin Public Schools is examining a number of different methods to provide gifted and talented students with the learning environment they need. Source: Austin Herald
The Davidson Academy
NEW JERSEY – After years without a program for gifted students, the Trenton Public School District is reviewing an online gifted education program that could be implemented in the district's middle schools next year. The program would survey students, create a profile of their strengths and weaknesses, and offer lessons aligned with their interests and course curriculum. Source:

A new private elementary school for gifted students will open in Westwood this September. It is believed to be the only school in North Jersey specifically for students deemed gifted by high scores on IQ tests and other measures of intelligence. Source:

The Bernards Township School District is in the process of addressing parental complaints that it has not met legal requirements to identify and encourage gifted and talented students. Source: Bernardsville News

NEW YORK – The Panel for Education Policy recently approved a new K-8 citywide Gifted and Talented school in Queens to be held in two separate locations, a move that left parents divided over the final result. Source:

District 24 in Queens is examining possible changes to the admission process for its Gifted and Talented program. Source: Queens Chronicle

Nearly one in four kindergarten spots in New York City’s most competitive gifted programs have been set aside this fall for siblings of current students, almost twice the rate from two years ago. This policy has led to frustration among a number of parents whose students, despite receiving top scores, were not offered a spot in one of the five gifted programs accepting students who score in the 97th percentile or above from across the city. Source: Wall Street Journal

NORTH CAROLINA – This coming school year, top-performing middle- and high school students in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district (CMS) will have the option of testing out of basic classes to enroll in advanced courses in particular subjects. CMS is also launching efforts to screen students for placement in gifted programs, recognizing that some may be talented in reading or math, but not both. Click here (PDF) to read the CMS plan for gifted students. Source: Charlotte Observer

TEXAS – Up to 15 gifted classrooms will be added in the Odessa-based Ector County Independent School District. Source: Odessa American

VIRGINIA – School Board members are pushing for a "robust" talented and gifted program in Gloucester schools, with school officials conceding the division has fallen short in enhancing the education experience of their brightest young minds. Source: Daily Press

Davidson Institute Gifted State Policy Map

How gifted-friendly is your state? Find out on the Davidson Gifted Database State Policy Map.  
If you know of new legislation, please contact the Communications Team.

   On the Web
  Gifted Exchange Blog
Read Laura Vanderkam's take on all things gifted. One of her recent posts is, "When did you have your children tested/evaluated - and why?" Join the discussion today!

Featured Articles and Resources
The Davidson Gifted Database at is a gateway to resources for and about gifted students. See what's new!
Gifted Education
The article, Evaluating Honors Programs in the College Search Process, provides insight on the coursework, social support and perks to look into when searching for a college fit.

In the article, Music to My Ears, Davidson Young Scholar Ambassador Ethan Cruikshank describes the unique path he has taken before and after becoming an Ambassador.

In the article, Understanding, Diagnosing, and Coping with Slow Processing Speed Steven M. Butnik addresses a number of options regarding this issue.

The Twice-Exceptional Newsletter, is "the only publication aimed squarely at the intersection of giftedness and learning challenges." The current issue includes the article, "Parent Coaching: A Support System for Families" and more!

At Volunteen Nation, teens have the power to make a difference through volunteer work. Over the years this organization has connected more than 16,500 youth all across the country to find volunteer opportunities.

Co-authored by Davidson Young Scholar Max Wallack, the book Why Did Grandma Put Her Underwear in the Refrigerator?: An Explanation of Alzheimer's Disease for Children is a sensitive, light-hearted children’s story that seamlessly provides its young readers with a toolbox to help them overcome their fears and frustrations regarding Alzheimer's Disease.

Wordwise Instruction is a website that promotes customized and group classes for gifted students, designed to help them become better readers and writers.

The Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE) at the University of Washington sponsors a 10-week Young Scholars Program on the university's Seattle campus each summer. is a a free online mathematics and science problem solving website for bright young students around the world. It offers personalized mathematics and physics problem sets and quizzes, as well as access to international community of more than 70,000 students.
Suggest a Resource             Suggest an Article 

   In the News
July 23 - Vermont Public Radio, Giving Brightest Kids The 'Cram School' Experience, Online (Staff)
July 20 - Los Angeles Times, American education and the IQ trap (Scott Barry Kaufman)
July 16 -, One Mom's Efforts to Crack the Gifted and Talented System (Jennifer Dev)
July 14 - Las Vegas Review-Journal, AP courses prepare high school students for college (Sue Newbry Haynie)
July 9 -, Don't You Have To Be “Gifted and Talented” To Be Creative? - Part I  Part II (Douglas Eby)
July 7 - The Gazette, Evidence that student acceleration works (Nicholas Colangelo)
July 5 - Victoria Times Colonist, Let kids decide whether to be in gifted classes (John Rosemond)
July 1 -, Natick teen recognized for Alzheimer's charity work (John Swinconeck)
June 30 - New York Magazine, Too Many Geniuses (Jeff Wise)
June 27 - The State Journal-Register, Ending the neglect of Illinois' gifted students (Sally Walker & Nancy Green)
June 21 - Washington Post, Is AP better than freshman college courses? (Jay Mathews)
June 18 - Education Week, How sharing projects enriches gifted education (Tamara Fisher)
June 12 - Huffington Post, 'Ability Grouping' Returns To The Classroom (Video)
June 10 - Salon, “Ability grouping” returns to the classroom (Katie McDonough)
June 9 - New York Times, Grouping Students by Ability Regains Favor in Classroom (Vivian Yee)

Discuss these stories and more on the Gifted Issues Discussion Forum.

   In the Spotlight

 Vinjai Vale, 13
A Davidson Young Scholar Making a Difference

In the SpotlightWhat are some past and present projects you’ve worked on to help make a positive difference in the lives of others?
My Young Scholar Ambassador project, called KidsTeachKids, aims to help struggling math students catch up with their class and eventually become independent learners. Highly-qualified volunteer tutors, who form the backbone of KidsTeachKids, facilitate a kid-teaching-kid, one-on-one free service. We tailor the learning experience to the students’ needs, aiming to teach them the way they can best be taught. Most importantly, we make learning fun – be it through mathematical manipulatives, videos, or by using their favorite TV characters in humorous word problems. Through a custom-built scheduler in our website,, students and tutors can request and schedule face-to-face tutoring sessions.

We are seeing benefits of KidsTeachKids for both students and tutors. For example, one fourth grade student started working with us, and improved his test grade from a C to an A in just eight sessions. Improvement reaches far beyond grades; our students are more confident in school as well, and learn to see that math is fun. One of them once commented, “Now I can finally understand what is going on in math class!” It is also a positive experience for KidsTeachKids tutors – as Phil Collins eloquently put it in song, “In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.”

I am also working on another project in the field of intelligent amputee prosthetics with a collaborator, Adithya Ganesh. We are developing a novel, low-cost, and easy-to-use embedded system for control of prosthetic fingers. We have submitted a paper to a conference as part of spreading awareness about our invention. We are going to open-source our work to make it affordable for amputees, as current solutions are exorbitant in cost. Open-sourcing also allows others to improvise on the system, so it will continue to grow and evolve. With impressive performance results, this system shows potential to be much cheaper and more user-friendly than existing technologies, so I believe that it can positively impact the lives of many others.

How has the Young Scholars Ambassador Program helped you to reach your goals and achieve your accomplishments?
The Ambassador Program has been an immensely helpful experience and I have learnt many valuable skills from it – leadership, communication, goal-setting, marketing, proposal-writing, website development and much more. The other Ambassadors formed an excellent peer group; everybody benefited from exchanging ideas with each other. The week-long seminars were extraordinarily instructive, and we had some of the best seminar facilitators that can be found. My Davidson Institute advisor provided thoughtful and insightful ideas, and was always there to help. The Ambassador Program were key to KidsTeachKids’ tremendous development.

What are some of your short-term and long-term plans?
While it may take many years, I want to make KidsTeachKids self-sustainable. One of my short-term goals is to scale up KidsTeachKids, and I am working on setting up chapters in other cities. I also will be working on several aspects of open-sourcing the prosthetics project.

In the long run, I plan to study multiple fields in college, and establish an interdisciplinary lab or a company. My dream is to offer several multi-dimensional innovations to the world.

Please describe your academic setting.
My academic setting is very eclectic. As a homeschooler, I have been able to take different classes from different sources, enabling me to create a customized academic setting and curriculum. I was fortunate to have been mentored by some of the best, such as Dr. Titu Andreescu for Math Olympiad.

   Closing Thought

"When we created the fellowship more than two years ago, our intention was to help a small number of creative people learn and accomplish more than they might have otherwise. To their great credit, they have exceeded our expectations, and inspired people of all ages by reminding them that qualities like intellectual curiosity, grit, and determination are more important than a degree in determining success in life."

~ Peter Thiel, Creator of the Thiel Fellowship


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