Magazine article The American Enterprise

Our Looming Science Crisis

Magazine article The American Enterprise

Our Looming Science Crisis

Article excerpt

A scientist from the Bronx named David Bauer has developed a low-cost sensor which can quickly detect the presence of nerve agents after a biochemical attack. The patch has the potential to save thousands of lives if terrorists strike.

But David Bauer is no ordinary scientist. He doesn't have a Ph.D. or even a high school diploma. He's a 17-year-old student and a member of the varsity fencing team at a Manhattan high school. In March, I watched (teary-eyed, I'll admit) as he walked away with a $100,000 scholarship--first prize in the Intel Science Talent Search competition.

Second prize went to Timothy Credo, 17, of Highland Park, Illinois, who wrote the software for a fast, accurate detector of subatomic particles while moonlighting at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. Others among the 40 finalists were: Ailish Elizabeth Bate man of Sag Harbor, New York, who isolated a novel antibiotic compound in beech tree fungus; Kelley Harris of Sacramento, California, whose work advanced the search for a smallpox cure; and Albert Tsao of Brookline, Massachusetts, who designed "silicon nanofiber ring resonator loops that are thinner than the wavelength of light."

Ten of the 40 got perfect SAT scores, and 15 ranked first in their class, but these kids aren't nerds. Finalist Justin Alexander Kovac of Miami, for example, is on the track team and "enjoys snorkeling, cycling, and swing dancing." The teenage scientists were gracious, articulate, and sharp-looking in tuxes and evening gowns at the awards dinner I attended (my dinner companion whispered that at least three of the women looked like super-models). Three eighths of the finalists were women (Larry Summers, please note), and about half were Asian Americans.

These kids' success, however, masks a terrible threat to America's economic growth and security. As Craig Barrett, Intel's CEO, put it, "We still do a very, very poor job of educating our kids" in science and math. In a comparison of high school graduates in the world's top 25 countries, "an American kid is, on average, near the bottom 10 percent."

The trouble begins in high school, or earlier, but it is showing up dramatically now in America's high-tech universities and businesses. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.