Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Chaulk another up for home schooling

I find it interesting that the mainstream media has painted homeschoolers as crazy fundementalist Christians who are freaks. My wife was homeschooled, and obviously, she's fine (okay, okay, I might be biased). I went through public schools, myself, so I understand there's two sides to the issue. Despite the media's leanings, homeschooling definately has the statistical advantage when it comes to facts. And here's a new one: California Teen Wins Science Competition

WASHINGTON - A 16-year-old California boy won a premier high school science competition Monday for his innovative approach to an old math problem that could help in the design of airplane wings. Michael Viscardi, a senior from San Diego, won a $100,000 college scholarship, the top individual prize in the Siemens Westinghouse Competition in Math, Science and Technology.

Viscardi said he's been homeschooled since fifth grade, although he does take math classes at the University of California at San Diego three days a week. His father is a software engineer and his mother, who stays at home, has a Ph.D. in neuroscience, he said.

"It's unbelievable," Viscardi said of his win. "It's so incredible that I'm in shock right now."

Viscardi tackled a 19th century math problem known as the Dirichlet problem, formulated by the mathematician Lejeune Dirichlet. The theorem Viscardi created to solve it has potential applications in the fields of engineering and physics, including airplane wing design. He said he worked on it for about six months with a professor at UCSD.

"He is a super-duper mathematics student," said lead judge Constance Atwell, a consultant and former research director at the National Institutes of Health. "It was almost impossible for our judges to figure out the limits of his understanding during our questioning. And he's only 16 years old," she said.

My short foray into Calculas was a near disaster, so I have an appreciation for the difficulty involved...mostly in that it's way over my head. It's pretty amazing stuff, though.


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