Davidson eNews Update for September 2016

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Davidson Institute
September 2016

             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
Announcing the 2016 Davidson Fellows
Group shot of Davidson FellowsMeet the 2016 Davidson Fellows! Davidson Fellows have completed graduate-level projects or portfolios that have the potential to benefit society. Each received a scholarship and were recognized for their achievements at a special awards reception, sponsored by U.S. Senators Harry Reid (NV) and Chuck Grassley (IA), in Washington, D.C.

Positive contributions to society made by the 2016 Davidson Fellows include:
  • Developing a cost-effective thermoelectric device that has the potential to enable the generation of electricity from industrial waste heat.
  • Creating an eco-friendly active refrigeration vaccine transportation system that could save countless lives by providing safe and effective vaccines globally.
  • Designing a smartphone-based pulmonary function analyzer that can be used to measure lung function and diagnose various respiratory illnesses.
  • Creating a portfolio of writing portraying positive depictions of young people of marginalized identities based on racial, gender and cultural markers.
  • Exploring the crossover of algebra and combinatorics, which has applications in computer-based image recognition.
2017 Davidson Fellows Scholarship Application
The Davidson Institute offers $10,000, $25,000 and $50,000 scholarships to students whose projects have the potential to benefit society, and are equivalent to college graduate-level work with a depth of knowledge in a particular area of study. Category requirements for the 2017 Davidson Fellows scholarships will be posted soon.

Fordham reportReport Examines State Accountability For High-Achievers

Recent Thomas B. Fordham Institute report High Stakes for High Achievers: State Accountability in the Age of ESSA (PDF) examines the extent to which states’ accountability systems attend to the educational needs of high-achieving students, citing Arkansas, Ohio, Oregon and South Carolina as leaders in this regard. The publication details how states can take advantage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to create systems that serve all students. One recommendation is that the U.S. Department of Education allow states to rate academic achievement using a performance index that gives schools additional credit for getting students to an advanced level. Read more: Thomas B. Fordham Institute, NAGC, The74million.org, Chalkbeat.org

Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Scholarship Programs
The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is accepting applications for its Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship and College Scholarship Program. Recipients will be awarded as much as $40,000 per year for four years for tuition, books, living expenses and other required fees. The UnJack Kent Cooke Foundationdergraduate Transfer Scholarship allows up to 85 of the nation’s top community college students to complete their bachelor’s degrees by transferring to a selective four-year college or university. The College Scholarship Program provides up to 40 high-achieving high school seniors with financial need the opportunity to attend the nation’s best four-year colleges and universities. Visit their website for full eligibility requirements.

     Davidson News

Group of gifted studentsDavidson Academy of Nevada
The Davidson Academy application for the 2017-2018 school year is now available! Visit the How to Apply page to access the online application system. The Academy is a free public school unlike any other in the country, where the abilities, strengths and interests of profoundly gifted middle and high school students are encouraged and supported. Please review the Qualification Criteria and How to Apply pages.
    "The Academy is a school for people who love to learn; it gives them the tools to do so and lets them announce their passions freely to the world."
    - Davidson Academy Graduate
Upcoming Tours for Prospective Students
The Davidson Academy frequently hosts tours for prospective students and their parents. At these tours, attendees meet current Academy students, parents, faculty and staff, and have the opportunity to ask specific questions about the school. Upcoming school tours will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on these Fridays (RSVP Required): Oct. 21, Nov. 18 and Dec. 9.

Educator of gifted students in classroomDavidson Young Scholars
The national Davidson Young Scholars program provides FREE services designed to nurture the intellectual, social, emotional, and academic development of profoundly intelligent young people between the ages of 5 and 18 (students must be between the ages of 5 and 16 when applying). Benefits of the program include:
  • Consulting Services
  • An Online Community
  • In-person Connections
  • Community Service Endeavors
  • Summer Programs (fee-based)
Read success stories to see how the Young Scholars program has helped make a difference in the lives of these students. The Young Scholars application deadline is the first of each month.

Free Guidebooks for Gifted Learners
The Davidson Institute offers FREE, online educational planning guidebooks focused on various topics such as advocacy, early college and mentorships, gap year, homeschooling and giving back. With a wide variety of articles and tools, these comprehensive guidebooks help direct parents and students through the process of searching for an appropriately challenging educational setting.

     Legislative & Policy News
Group of gifted studentsCALIFORNIA – While the enrollment of students in gifted classes in the San Diego Unified School District has decreased in recent years, the school district continues to outpace the rest of the state in identifying gifted students. Source: San Diego Union-Tribune

FLORIDA – The Duval County School Board recently voted to approve the district’s plan to expand gifted services, with the intention of eventually developing gifted programs at all middle schools in the county. Source: Florida Times-Union

GEORGIA – Thirty-one gifted and talented teachers will be recipients of the Houston County Education Assistance Fund. Source: The Telegraph

KANSAS – The Kansas Supreme Court is considering whether the state could attempt to raise test scores among low-performing students by shifting funds out of programs for gifted students. Source: Wichita Eagle

MARYLAND – Baltimore County Public Schools is proposing dropping the “gifted and talented” label in the school district in favor of a name change to “Advanced Academics.” The proposed new label would encompass honors courses, advanced placement classes, dual enrollment and other advanced programs. A number of local advocates worry the proposed changes will result in the removal of certain services. Sources: ABC2 News, Baltimore Sun

MISSOURI – A new middle school in the Ferguson-Florissant School District is the first in St. Louis County to offer self-contained gifted instruction. Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

MONTANA – The 16-member School Funding Interim Commission has proposed $2.5 million to be appropriated to the current state block grant program for gifted and talented education. Most recently, the state has provided $250,000 annually for gifted education statewide. Source: Missoulian

Group of gifted studentsNEVADA – An elementary school for gifted students recently opened in Henderson. Source: KTVN Las Vegas

NEW YORK – The New York City school district has created an experimental program that will allow more than a hundred students from underserved neighborhoods entrance into sought-after gifted classes. Source: New York Daily News

A new gifted program at PS 45 in Staten Island was created this year to coincide with the beginning of the school year. The new program will begin with a class of 25 kindergarten students. Source: SILive.com

OHIO – Talks continue on how to best standardize the approach of educating gifted students in the state. Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer

How gifted-friendly is your state? Visit the Davidson Gifted Database State Policy Database to find out. If you know of new legislation, please contact us at admin@davidsongifted.org.

     On the Web
Group of gifted studentsFeatured 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.


In Guilty thoughts: What parents of gifted children really think, Gail Post covers a few of the most common "guilty thoughts" parents experience.

The World Around Us: Embrace and Affirm Diversity with Literature is designed to help educators identify quality diverse literature to incorporate into the curriculum and reading experiences of children.

Tips for Parents: From School to Homeschool at Three Stages addresses many of the concerns parents often have about transitioning their students from school to homeschool.

Academy for Gifted and Talented (Huntsville, AL) supports the needs of gifted learners in grades 6-8 through integrated curriculum, acceleration, compacting, extended learning opportunities and more.

Girls Who Code is a national non-profit organization dedicated to closing the gender gap in technology. With locations across the U.S., girls can join both summer immersion and club programs.

Group of gifted studentsPTCSI Homeschool offers award winning, quality, affordable courses that both parents and students can utilize.

The Beekman School (New York, NY) seeks to provide high school students with differentiated instruction based on each student's unique interests and needs through flexibility, focus on the individual and a supportive environment.

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

     In the Spotlight

Nicolas Poux - 2016 Davidson Fellow Laureate

headshot of Nicolas PouxNicolas Poux of Palo Alto, Calif. will receive $50,000 for his 2016 Davidson Fellows project, "Development of a High-Resolution Multi-color Fluorescent Reporter for Clonal Analysis."

What kind of impact can your Fellows project, “Development of a High-Resolution Multi-color Fluorescent Reporter for Clonal Analysis” have on society?

Since my project entailed the development of a tool to enable and facilitate previously unfeasible scientific studies, its impact can be measure by the the impact of these new studies. This tool, which we dubbed “Skittles,” allows us to label cells with one of 25 colors, and enables us to track each cell and its progeny based on their assigned color. The ability to track cells and how they divide allows us to study how organ systems develop and maintain themselves, a focus of stem cell biology with an enormous, tangible impact.

For example, the relatively recent discovery of hematopoietic, or blood-forming, stem cells has enabled us to perform life-saving bone-marrow and cord-blood transplants, of which I was a recipient in 2011. A current focus of stem cell biology is to identify other organ-specific stem cells, which would allow us to repair and reconstitute their respective organ systems in the same way that we can reconstitute the blood system using hematopoietic stem cells. Skittles would allow us to perform novel studies in these areas, giving us new insights on how to identify and harness these stem cells.

Another potential application of Skittles lies in cancer biology. As a powerful tool for tracking cells, Skittles would allow us to study the dynamics behind how tumors spread. We believe that the insights gained from such studies may allow us to develop a predictive system that describes common mutations that drive the spread of tumors. Targeting such mutations would open up a new avenue for fighting cancer.

These are only two examples of Skittles’ impact. This tool empowers researchers to explore new studies that we believe will have positive, life-changing effects.

What are some of your short-term and long-term plans?
I am still working on my Fellows Project and its applications, and I aim to get my project ready for publication. I intend to keep studying biomedical science, looking towards getting an M.D./Ph.D. after graduating. My goal is to make a significant contribution to helping patients with cancer and similar diseases, and I will keep pursuing research and my work in patient support to achieve that goal.

Please describe your academic setting and some positive experiences with mentors.

I graduated from Gunn High School last year, and I am currently preparing to start my first year at Stanford University.

My research mentor, Jonathan Tsai, has had a tremendous impact on my life. I met him while I was undergoing treatments for Leukemia at Stanford Children’s Hospital, as part of a program that links first-year Medical School students to long-term patients. His friendship over the past five years, and his mentorship in and out of the lab, have shaped my life and trajectory in a positive way. I also owe a large debt of gratitude to Professor Weissman for his support, guidance, and encouragement. My thanks goes out to both of them.

   Closing Thought

"When you look at the issues facing society now—whether it's health care, climate change, terrorism, energy— these are the kids (gifted students) who have the most potential to solve these problems. These are the kids we'd do well to bet on."

~ Dr. David Lubinski, in the Scientific American article,
How to Raise a Genius: Lessons from a 45-Year Study of Supersmart Children


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