Davidson eNews Update for November 2016

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Davidson Institute

November 2016

   Davidson News | What's New in Gifted Education | Legislative & Policy News | On the Web | In the News | In the Spotlight

    Davidson News

Davidson Academy – Announces New Online High School
The Davidson Academy is pleased to announce the launch of a new full-time online high school option opening for the 2017-2018 academic year! Consequently, the Academy will now offer two educational options for students – the online high school for those living anywhere in the U.S. and the day school on the University of Nevada, Reno campus.

The Academy is a proven leader in educating our nation’s brightest students. Since 2006, the Davidson Academy has been recognized as an exceptional school for profoundly gifted middle and high school students already living in the Reno area and those who can move to Nevada. For those who cannot move, the new full-time online high school option reflects the Academy’s commitment to the profoundly gifted student population by offering a rigorous online academic environment where these students can thrive among their intellectual peers.

The online high school will feature:
  • Accredited courses
  • Live sessions
  • Small class sizes
  • Quality peer interactions
The Davidson Academy Online High School application deadline is March 1, 2017 and, if space remains available, late applications will be considered until April 15, 2017. How to Apply >

The Davidson Academy Reno School's final application deadline is Jan. 15, 2017. How to Apply >

2016 Davidson Fellows Award Ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Group shot of Davidson FellowsOn Sept. 21, 2016, 20 young people were honored at the Davidson Fellows award ceremony for their work in science, technology, engineering, literature, music and the category of Outside the Box. Davidson Institute for Talent Development founder Bob Davidson presented the awards at the 16th annual ceremony held at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. In recognition of their remarkable achievements, each of the 2016 Davidson Fellows received a $50,000, $25,000 or $10,000 scholarship.

2017 Davidson Fellows Scholarship Application

The 2017 Davidson Fellows Scholarship application is now available online. Young people 18 and younger have the opportunity to earn a $50,000, $25,000 or $10,000 scholarship in recognition of a significant piece of work in the categories of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, music, literature and philosophy, or a project that represents outside the box thinking. The application deadline is Wed., Feb. 8, 2017.

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.

    What's New in Gifted Education

Fordham reportReport Examines State Accountability For High-Achievers
High Stakes for High Schoolers: State Accountability in the Age of ESSA (PDF) is the Thomas B. Fordham Institute's follow-up report to High Stakes for High Achievers. The report finds that just four states — Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas — are effectively creating incentives for high schools to serve high-achieving students, and that only four states — Alabama, Idaho, Louisiana and New York — are headed in the right direction under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

The report also finds that 18 states are not looking at high-schoolers’ academic growth using a model that includes high-achievers. Recommendations for every state include: upgrading high school accountability systems through increased emphasis on student growth; providing schools additional credit for helping students to advanced levels of achievement; and, giving high schools an incentive to help able students earn college credit before they graduate. Read more: Thomas B. Fordham Institute, NAGC, THE Journal

Google Science Fair - Innovative Science Ingenuity

Recently-announced 2016 Google Science Fair award recipients include:
  • Charlie Fenske, who created an experiment that could enhance space flight efficiency and maneuverability (My Fox Boston);
  • Alex Howard, who developed a project that could efficiently remove heavy metals from water (ABC);
  • Anushka Naiknaware, who developed a sensor design to help people suffering from chronic wounds heal more quickly, (The Oregonian); and
  • Ashton Cofer, Luke Clay and Julia Bray, who produced a carbon filter that could significantly decrease landfill waste and make water safe to drink. (Nature.com).

Watch video of the 2016 Awards Celebration.

Epsilon Camp - A Challenging Summer Math Experience for Young Students

EpsilonApplication season has begun for Epsilon Camp, a two-week summer residential camp serving promising young mathematicians and their families through an intensive student program and parent workshop. The mission of Epsilon is to meet the learning needs of students ages 7-11 with extreme intelligence and a love of mathematics by exposing them to suitable content, pedagogy, peers and mathematicians. Epsilon Camp 2017 will be held at Washington University in St. Louis, MO from July 23 to August 6, 2017. Epsilon will offer one full scholarship for a camper and one parent/guardian and up to four additional financial assistance awards.

     Legislative & Policy News

ALABAMA – Dollars allocated for gifted and talented programming in the state increased to $2.5 million for the 2015-16 school year, more than double the budget for the previous year. Source: Dothan Eagle

CONNECTICUT – The Wilton school district will start identifying students for giftedness in second grade. As part of the identification process, the district will also ensure that every school follows the same timeline of reviewing test results, writing recommendations and informing parents. Source: The Hour

FLORIDA – The portion of students identified as gifted has grown exponentially on a year-by-year basis, particularly among students from underrepresented populations, after the Orange County school district shifted to a model of universal screening in the 2012-13 school year. Source: Education Dive

GEORGIA – The Carroll County School System is placing an increased emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) learning for students in the district's gifted program. Source: Times-Georgian

MONTANA – A $2.5 million appropriation to the state's gifted and talented grant program has been approved. There also will be a number of changes to the Missoula school district’s gifted education policy (PDF). Source: Missoulian

NEW YORK – A new program for gifted and talented students will be opening in New York City next fall, with acceptance tied to academic performance, grades and teacher recommendations. Source: DNA Info

Starting next fall, the Brooklyn School of Inquiry will set aside 40 percent of its kindergarten seats to low-income gifted and talented students. Source: Chalkbeat

RHODE ISLAND – A Providence school is offering a pilot program for students capable of handling advanced coursework, part of a drive to offer gifted programs to all students, not just affluent ones. Source: Providence Journal

WISCONSIN – The Racine school district will be changing how it identifies gifted and talented students and how they are taught. The changes are designed to better track student progress after initial identification. Source: Journal Times

VIRGINIA – A five-year, $2 million project by Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education is designed to create advanced-course curricula for gifted students in 13 high-poverty rural Virginia districts. The project, called Promoting PLACE—for Place, Literacy, Achievement, Community, Engagement— seeks to help districts identify students who may be otherwise overlooked for gifted programs. Source: Education Week

     On the Web

Featured Articles and Resources
The Davidson Gifted Database features easy search capabilities for articles, resources and state policy pages to help students, parents and educators pinpoint gifted information.

8 Reasons You Should Label Kids as Gifted provides a number of justifications for labeling students as gifted.

Don’t Always Choose Academics! Why Sports Participation May Be Just as Important describes the significance of non-academic activities for gifted students.

Tips for Parents: Understanding and Promoting Emotional Regulation provides advice on how to encourage healthy social/emotional development.

The book Make Social Learning Stick! How to Guide and Nurture Social Competence Through Everyday Routines and Activities offers a social learning diet of concepts and actions that can be used in everyday life to increase verbal and nonverbal language, listening skills, understanding of hidden rules, perspective taking, executive functioning and more.

Moving Beyond the Page is a complete literature-based homeschool curriculum designed to allow children to grow in their love of learning. The curriculum encourages critical and creative thinking, provides challenging and engaging projects, and supports different learning styles.

Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities is an organization designed to educate, guide and inspire parents of children with learning disabilities or ADHD.

The Understood.org Parenting Coach equips parents with experts who can answer questions about their students' situations and offer advice about where to go next.

     In the News

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

     In the Spotlight

Maya Varma - 2016 Davidson Fellow

Maya Varma of Cupertino, Calif. will receive $25,000 for her 2016 Davidson Fellows project, "A Wireless Smartphone-Based System for Diagnosis of Pulmonary Illnesses."

What kind of impact can your Fellows project, “A Wireless Smartphone-Based System for Diagnosis of Pulmonary Illnesses” have on society?

According to the World Health Organization, the prevalence of respiratory diseases has been growing rapidly around the world over the past few decades. More than 600 million people around the world currently have some form of respiratory illness, with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) being the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer. These illnesses are diagnosed by a spirometer, which determines lung function by measuring the volume of air that a patient expels. Current spirometers used to diagnose these respiratory illnesses cost thousands of dollars, which makes them too expensive for use in developing nations. As a result, 75 percent of those afflicted with COPD are receiving no medical treatment. Thus, it is not surprising that almost 90 percent of all pulmonary illness-related deaths occur in developing nations.

For my Davidson Fellows project, I developed a low-cost smartphone-based pulmonary function analyzer that can be used to diagnose five prevalent pulmonary illnesses: asthma, COPD, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and restrictive lung disease. The total cost of parts of my system is less than $50, which is a fraction of the cost of commercial diagnostic equipment currently in the market. My system, based on open-source hardware and software, can be used at health care facilities in poor countries, providing the same functionality of high-end spirometers at a fraction of the cost. Patients who have already been diagnosed with a pulmonary illness can use the disease management tool in my application to record symptoms and test results each day and track the severity of their disease over time. Patients who are at risk for respiratory illnesses can use the lung function estimator tool, which utilizes a predictive algorithm to determine expected lung function values. With early detection and treatment of respiratory illnesses, millions of lives can potentially be extended or saved.
What are some of your short-term and long-term plans?
I am currently a freshman at Stanford University, and I intend to pursue an engineering major. I am working on improving my Davidson Fellows project and I will be continuing engineering research throughout college. Eventually, I hope to obtain a Ph.D. My goal is to utilize the power of technology to design medical devices that will help improve the quality of life for all, not just a privileged few. While it is important to advance technology, we also have a moral responsibility to make it accessible to the less privileged populations of the world.

Please describe your academic setting and some positive experiences with mentors.
I would like to thank the Cogito program at Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth for providing me with an initial financial grant to begin working on my project, and I am extremely grateful to Dr. Ali Yousuf from Johns Hopkins University for answering my questions and being an incredible mentor throughout this project. Also, Mr. Michael Blaisdell, Director of the Respiratory Therapy program at Ohlone Community College provided me with access to the ASL 5000 system that I used to test my device and valuable feedback on my project. I recently graduated from Presentation High School, where I was president of the Math and Science Independent Research Club. I enjoyed being part of this group and encouraging others to pursue research. I am grateful to our faculty advisor, Dr. Tracy Hughes, for always supporting my passion for research.

   Closing Thought

"Gifted programs provide support to gifted students whose brains are wired differently. These students have affective needs that most students do not have or the affective needs are increased due to the giftedness. Gifted students may develop asynchronously with their minds developing far
ahead of their physical growth. Their cognitive and affective development
can be uneven. Not all gifted students are gifted in everything they do.
They may be gifted in one domain, multiple domains, or all areas."

~ Shirley Farrell, Gifted Education Specialist, Alabama Department of Education, in the Dothan Eagle

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Davidson Institute for Talent Development

Supporting our nation's brightest young minds.

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