A Winning System
The Westinghouse is woven into Bronx Science legend the way that football is embedded into the lore of Ole Miss.
Students gossip about the prospects of classmates who are working on Westinghouse projects the way that students at other schools might gossip about the football team's chances next Saturday. They know who has made it to the top 300, who has cracked through to the top forty and won a trip to Washington, and who has put it all together to claim one of the ten top money prizes. They know how Science stacked up against Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan or Brooklyn Technical High School in Brooklyn. When I went back to Bronx Science's Bauhaus-spare building on a recent visit and saw, among the long rows of Westinghouse plaques, the plaque for 1962, my graduating year, the names Sheila Grinnell and Robert Strom were instantly familiar. I doubt I ever took a class with either of them or even spoke to them between classes. But yes, I remembered, they were the ones who won my year. I remembered that Sheila Grinnell was a tall, pretty, and remarkably poised girl. And I remembered that Robert Strom had not only won the Westinghouse but had several years before won big money on the television quiz show "The $64,000 Question." They were the football heroes of our school.
Bronx Science does as well as it does—120 winners through 1993, 50 percent more than any other school in the country—not because of the school spirit that can flourish in such a competitive atmosphere but because, like the top colleges in football, it has evolved a superb and winning system. That system selects some of the best students in New York, then teaches them to think scientifically and to perform high-quality research. In the freshman