Davidson eNews Update for March 2017

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Davidson Institute

March 2017

   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

Regeneron Science Talent Search - Recognizing America's Brightest Young Scientists
Some of America's brightest students were recently recognized when the Society for Science & the Public (SSP) and Regeneron announced the winners of the 2017 Regeneron Science Talent Search (STS). The Regeneron STS recognizes 40 high school seniors creating new technologies and solutions that can change the world through scientific innovation.
  • Indrani Das (pictured, left) won the top award of $250,000 for her study of a possible approach to treating the death of neurons due to brain injury or neurodegenerative disease.
  • Aaron Yeiser (right) received second place and $175,000 for his development of a new mathematical method for solving partial differential equations on complicated geometries.
  • Arjun Ramani (middle) received third place and $150,000 for blending the mathematical field of graph theory with computer programming to answer questions about networks.
This year, Regeneron became the new, primary sponsor of STS. View the press release and detailed description of each of the STS finalists' projects. Sources: Philly.com, WIBC Indianapolis, TeenVogue.com

Book Publishers on the Pulse of Gifted Education

A number of publishers provide a wealth of information for gifted students, their parents, educators and others interested in the topic of gifted education. Some  recent books, and updated editions, include:
New Research Continues to Emphasize Merits of Acceleration
Using Illinois as a case-study, the Illinois Association for Gifted Children and Untapped Potential Project recently published a report (PDF) finding that most districts do not effectively establish acceleration policies to support their high achievers in the absence of a state requirement. Despite an ever-increasing number of studies demonstrating the benefits of acceleration, most decisions about acceleration policies are made at the local level across the U.S., with a recent Jack Kent Cooke Foundation report finding that 41 states either do not have acceleration policies or permit school districts to decide whether to institute them. Source: Thomas B. Fordham Institute

This follows a recent analysis (PDF) which determined that grouping students by ability and providing opportunities for students to progress at a more rapid pace can increase overall student academic achievement.

    Davidson News

Designed to be Different — Online High School for Profoundly Gifted Students
The Davidson Academy, a school for profoundly gifted students located on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno, is launching a full-time online high school. Now students whose families are unable to relocate to Reno can access the Academy's exceptional educational experience.

2017-2018 Academic Year
The online high school will include accredited courses for incoming freshmen and sophomores, with courses for juniors and seniors being added in subsequent years. Applicants must be 12 to 15 years old as of Sept. 30, 2017, submit ACT or SAT scores according to the Davidson Academy's Online High School Qualification Criteria and commit to being full-time students. This age requirement will be expanded upward as more advanced high school courses are added in the future.

For Nevada residents, attending the online school is free and there is no application/assessment fee. For students living outside Nevada, there is a $100 application/assessment fee, as well as a flexible tuition rate. The Academy's flexible tuition model takes into consideration annual family income, cost of living adjustment based on location of primary residence, the number of dependents in the household, and other relevant factors to determine a personalized tuition level for each family.

The online high school final application deadline is April 15, 2017. Applications that are completed by the deadline will be held open for students registered for the March 11 SAT or April 8 ACT. Please visit the Online High School's How to Apply page for details and email online@davidsonacademy.unr.edu with any questions.

Also, please "Follow" the Davidson Academy on Twitter, "Like" the Davidson Academy on Facebook and "Follow" the Davidson Academy LinkedIn page for updates about the school!

2017 THINK Summer Insitute
Among the most academically rigorous summer programs is the THINK Summer Institute, which runs July 15 through August 5, 2017. Students can earn up to six college credits at this three-week residential summer program on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno. To qualify, students must be 13 to 16 years old during the program and meet the minimum qualifying test scores. Apply today - space is limited and the final application deadline is Friday, March 31, 2017!

Why choose THINK?
  • Earn up to six college credits in three weeks.
  • Experience college life while living on campus.
  • Build friendships with like-minded peers from all over the country.
  • Work closely with University faculty in small classes.
  • Pay less compared to other credit programs (financial assistance also available).
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, see the How to Apply and Qualification Criteria pages.

     Legislative & Policy News

ARIZONA – A new preschool for "highly gifted" students with an IQ of 130 or higher is set to open in the Higley Unified School District for the 2017-2018 school year. Source: AZCentral.com

COLORADO – While a number of improvements have been made in a second-year plan to provide students of color greater access to Denver Public Schools’ magnet programs for highly gifted students, large disparities remain. Source: Chalkbeat Colorado

The Wheat Ridge High School Gifted and Talented Center in Jefferson County will receive district funding for one more year, following previous plans to have it cut. Source: Denver Post

ILLINOIS – The Danville school district is expanding its Motivating Academically Talented Students (MATS) program for gifted students to second graders. It also approved piloting separate advanced math and English language arts classes for middle school students, with the goal of preparing more students to take advanced placement classes in high school. Source: Champaign/Urbana News-Gazette

MINNESOTA – The Rochester school district will officially expand its highly gifted program. Source: Post-Bulletin

MONTANA – Three types of acceleration procedures have been established in the Missoula school district. Source: Missoulian

NEW YORK – A new task force will examine the very low enrollment of students from Brooklyn and the Bronx in New York City gifted and talented programs, and the steps needed to correct this. Sources: Chalkbeat New York, DNAinfo

TEXAS – A number of advocates in the Midland school district are calling for a gifted program to be extended into the seventh and eighth grades. Currently, there is no gifted and talented curriculum beyond the sixth grade. Source: Midland Reporter-Telegram

VIRGINIA – The Henrico County school district is considering implementing a school for gifted students that would begin in the 2018-2019 academic year. Sources: WRIC, Richmond.com

WASHINGTON – Advocates in the state hope that increases to funding for the Highly Capable Program (HCP) in education plans represented in HB 1843 and SSB 5607 represent a step in cementing the program as an element of basic education, and no longer an optional enhancement. Source: Washington Coalition for Gifted Education

     On the Web

Comparing Popular Online Math and Language Arts Programs
As the popularity of online educational programs continues to grow, the Davidson Institute offers the following charts providing side-by-side comparisons of some of the most popular online math and language arts programs used by Davidson Young Scholars: Gifted Social Media and Blogs
Gifted organizations and advocates across the country are connecting through social media and blogs. Many are listed in the following articles: If you know of additional gifted-related blogs or social media pages we can add to the Social Networking article listed above, please send that information to administrator@davidsongifted.org

Featured Articles and Resources
The Davidson Gifted Database features articles, resources and state policies to help students, parents and educators pinpoint gifted information.

College Planning and Preparation - The High School Years and Preparing for College in Middle School provide year-by-year advice on how students can plan and prepare for the process of applying for college.

How to Start a School or Program like the Davidson Academy is based on a collection of resources that the Davidson staff compiled to send to those asking how to start a similar school or program.

Tips for Parents: How To Teach Your Child To Be Scientifically Literate is from a seminar hosted by Teresa Bondora, who provides parents advice on teaching their students to be well-read in science.

Communication and Media Preview (CAMP) (University of Alabama) is a summer program providing high school students with the opportunity to practice skills and improve knowledge related to the fields of communication and media, develop connections with aspiring communicators, and become familiar with the college experience.

Digital Young Leaders Exchange Program (DYLEP) is a four-month long virtual exchange program that connects 325 students from Iraq and the United States.

Parent and Educator Resource: Guide to Section 504 in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools is a user-friendly, easy-to-read publication that covers the process schools must go through to determine if a student is eligible for a 504 Plan.

     In the News

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

     In the Spotlight

Raghav Ganesh - a Davidson Fellow Helping Those with Autism

Raghav Ganesh of San Jose received $25,000 for his 2016 Davidson Fellows project, "Serene: An Assistive Biomedical System for Autism Spectrum Disorder."

What kind of impact can your Davidson Fellows project, “Serene: An Assistive Biomedical System for Autism Spectrum Disorder” have on society?

Autism spectrum disorder is a neurological and developmental disorder. The prevalence of autism in the United States is about 1 in 68 children (based on data released by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on March 27, 2014), lasting throughout one's lifetime. Autistic people periodically experience intense, frustrating, and risky emotional outbursts known as “autistic meltdowns”. Autistic meltdowns are periods of emotional dysregulation that are triggered by high levels of cumulative stress, sensory overload, and the inability to communicate with caregivers.

Emotional dysregulation is a familiar part of life for many individuals on the autism spectrum. Further, the unpredictable nature of these meltdowns often impacts people's quality of life and adds to their dependency on a caregiver. At present, only different coping techniques are typically used to manage the challenging symptoms of autism.

I developed a system that helps detect early signs of escalating stress levels in the user, notifying the user and their caregiver for immediate intervention; this helps prevent emotional dysregulation. My system can also be used to train the user to self-regulate, enabling them to be independent. Autism is a wide spectrum, and my system helps customize the solution to meet the needs of each user.
Please describe your academic setting and some positive experiences.
I have always been captivated by science and technology. Since elementary school, I have read science fiction books, created Do-It-Yourself projects, observed cars, airplanes, and humanoid robots, and watched the DARPA Grand Challenge. I listen to all genres of music, from French pop to classical, and enjoy playing the violin.

I love project based learning and have always liked exploring engineering and technology based solutions for different problems. Through my other projects, I developed a computer vision application to help diagnose autism by using facial feature recognition and eye gaze tracking. I also created a device to increase the range of the traditional white cane, which is the primary mobility aid for the visually impaired.

Through these projects, I had the opportunity to interact with and receive the guidance of my mentors. I was also fortunate to attend events such as the Davidson Fellows awards ceremony, International Science and Engineering Fair, Broadcom MASTERS International, Broadcom MASTERS, the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, and California State Science Fairs. It felt very inspiring to interact with and learn from other science and technology enthusiasts.

What are some of your short term and long term plans?
I am a high school freshman and enjoy exploring different disciplines. I will continue to work on my independent research and similar projects with a focus on aiding the underprivileged. I aspire to create a positive impact through science and technology.

   Closing Thought

"Now more than ever, we need our nation’s best and brightest young minds to pursue their interest in science and use their talents to solve our world’s most intractable problems."

~ Maya Ajmera, President and CEO of Society for Science & the Public and Publisher of Science News

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