NY Times Magazine

michael kahn kahn at wsu.edu
Tue Jun 6 01:42:40 EST 2000


In article <393ACD56.920FD153 at hotmail.com>, notmyaddress at hotmail.com (SLF)
wrote:

> Does anyone read the Sunday New York times?  the magazine section today
> (06/04) featured an article about "science geeks" in a NY high school ,
> who are active in real biomedical research. The goal is to build
>technologically capable students who will go on to do great things in
research >or business.

The URL for the article is
http://www.nytimes.com/library/magazine/home/20000604mag-nerds.html
You may have to go through some NY Times hurdles to get there.

Thank you for pointing out the article, Susan.  

Reading the story and reading Susan's reaction to it convinces me that an
awful lot is in the mind of the beholder. The story talks about how high
school students are competing at a very high levels of science by going
into laboratories all over NYC and doing "real" and cutting edge science. 
While there were some major things that did make me uneasy, they mostly
had to do with the level of effort expected and the tendency for that to
crowd out other things. ("There are people in the Intel program at school
who have social lives. I just don't happen to be one of them." ) I found
myself at once envious that these kids had certain opportunities that I
never had and a bit fearful that these babies were being taught to swim by
throwing them into the water.  Susan states that "we are so entrenched in
our ancient exclusionary profession that science looks like the most
conservative, regressive business there is." in the face of an article
that describes a large number of labs that have included a very young
student within their core activities.  Perhaps Intel supports each of them
with big bucks but I doubt it.

Those who read only Susan's reaction to this story should also know that
the last paragraph is,
"Several other scientists stopped by to stare at the data on the computer
screen. "It's a nice result," one said. "A cool result," another said. A
look of sudden, unexpected rapture briefly flickered across Alice's face,
as if she had just discovered an extraordinarily interesting way to be
cool. "I'm so lucky to be here," she whispered, and then went back to the
numbers on the screen."

Mike Kahn







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