To a science teacher in Averagetown, U.S.A., the odds of harvesting a Westinghouse scholar or two must seem daunting indeed. The teacher must compete for the precious plaques with counterparts at Bronx Science and at the growing number of state-operated, dormitory-equipped science high schools. All these schools, the teacher reckons, probably have state-of-the-art laboratories, computers that rival the acrobatics of the human brain, trained researchers, access to teaching hospitals and universities. What is the point of competing?
There are nuggets of truth among these anxieties, but they are vastly exaggerated. As we have seen, Bronx Science, Stuyvesant, and Midwood do not have state-of-the-art laboratories, just clever, well-thought-out research programs. Their teachers are for the most part pedagogical lifers and not refugees from cutting‐ edge research institutions. The access the schools have to research institutions is a result of relationships they have artfully cultivated over the years, as well as simple geographic proximity. Moreover, lots of students who do not attend schools like Bronx Science capture laurels. Young people like Christopher Skinner manage to put it all together though they hail from what a Bronx Science sophisticate might consider a hayseed town.
The moral in all this is that thoughtful planning, willpower, and tenacity are far more important than equipment in the pursuit of the Westinghouse or, more important, the scientific acumen such programs breed. True, there are few cities, let alone suburban and rural communities, that can sustain special science schools, that have the money to finance them and populations large enough to grow a schoolful of science-minded students. But virtually all of the