The Young Scientists: America's Future and the Winning of the Westinghouse

By Joseph Berger | Go to book overview

Chapter Seventeen
Lessons

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

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The Young Scientists: America's Future and the Winning of the Westinghouse
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Foreword *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Introduction - The Glittering Prizes *
  • Part I - Origins *
  • Chapter 1 - You've Got to Do Science *
  • Part II - The Schools: New York *
  • Chapter Two - A Winning System *
  • Chapter 3 - A Tree Grows in Brooklyn *
  • Chapter Four - A Teacher and His Creatures *
  • Part III - The Schools: the Heartland *
  • Chapter Five - Healing a Nation at Risk *
  • Chapter Six - Like Going to Camp All Year Long *
  • Chapter Seven - Different Strokes *
  • Part IV - The Students *
  • Chapter Eight - One Small Step for M Ankin D *
  • Chapter Nine - Rabbit Run *
  • Chapter Ten - Fathers and Sons *
  • Chapter Eleven - The Right Stuff *
  • Part V - The Families *
  • Chapter Twelve - The Huddled Masses *
  • Chapter Thirteen - What's Bred in the Bone *
  • Part VI - The Contest *
  • Chapter Fourteen - The Westinghouse Candy Store *
  • Chapter Fifteen - The Last Dance *
  • Chapter Sixteen - The Envelope, Please *
  • Chapter Seventeen - Lessons *
  • Appendices *
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