Kevin Ellis and Yale Fan each received prizes of $50,000 from the Intel Foundation at the world’s largest pre-college science competition
Kevin developed a method to automatically speed up computer programs by analyzing the programs while they are running so that work could be divided across multiple microprocessors. Yale’s project demonstrated the advantages of quantum computing in performing difficult computations.
“The 1,600 youths from around the world who attended this week’s Intel International Science and Engineering Fair showed me that the next generation of scientific and technological innovation is exciting and thriving,” said Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini. “I hope that the energy these high school students exhibit about math and science will inspire yet another generation of innovators, scientists and entrepreneurs which will improve our world.”
This year, competition consisted of 1,611 young scientists from 59 countries, regions and territories.
Photo: Yale Fan, left, and Kevin Ellis celebrate their win in San Jose. Photo by Intel.
What a wonderful weekend! A stellar group, sunny skies, and scenic destination made for a trip full of laughter and smiles. We drove out past the Dalles to the Deschutes State Park where we loaded up our panniers and bike trailer and took off on the trail. The first few minutes were a little steep but we eventually made it to flatter ground. We rode to our campsite where we unloaded our gear, had lunch, and relaxed before heading off down the trail. We discovered two old rail cars and an old homestead. Relaxing in the grass at the homestead, we imagining the lives of the people who lived there, played games and laughed heartily.
We rode back to our campsite, the wind in our face. Sometimes it was so strong it stopped us in our tracks! We persevered, inspired by some Goldfish waiting at camp, and finally made it back to camp, where we set up tents and made dinner. As it got dark and we waited for hot cocoa heat up, we created a giant slide down a small hill in the tall grass. Shrieks of amusement echoed across the canyon.
The next morning we woke up to sunny skies and calm breezes. After breakfast we hiked to the top of the canyon, a mango in tow to celebrate Tango With The Mango Day. It was tough to get to the top, but we were rewarded by incredible views wildflowers, yummy treats. We returned to camp where we ceremoneously had a last tango with the mango and had an unusual lunch on our upside-down table before packing up and riding back to the bus, tired but happy.
More than 100 generous donors have contributed $22,000 to the Clint Darling Fund for financial aid. This is a remarkable outpouring of support for one of the school’s highest priorities and a permanent need about which Clint is most passionate. Our goal is to raise at least $25,000 to establish an endowed scholarship in Clint’s name. We are so close! To honor Clint, make your gift today: call 503-297-1894 ext. 310, or donate online. Thank you!
Last year I applied for a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching. Much to my amazement, I was awarded a grant to study for a little over three months in Israel. On the application, I wrote a proposal for connecting students using graphic arts software to help overcome language barriers. How naïve I was. The first issue my mentor, Jay Hurvitz, pointed out was that I had hardly proposed a topic which could be researched. No problem, I countered. Being a mentor teacher in the United States, I was more than willing to look at how student teachers were being trained to teach with modern technological tools. In my mentoring, I had discovered that student teachers were proficient at using technology, but had little training in how to teach with technology. I told Jay I was also interested in how veteran teachers were acquiring the new skills necessary to teach with emerging technology.
I was not a researcher prior to this Fulbright Award. I teach children. I have done so successfully by most measures for nearly thirty years. Teaching is about building relationships. My students learn because of the relationship I have with them. In order to learn about the state of technology in Israeli education, I began developing a personal learning network (PLN.) I created a blog that, according to Google Analytics, has received more than 700 visits. Each visit lasted an average of 2:36. Clearly, people are reading what I have written.
Actually doing research was my problem. I was going to be in Israel for 102 days. I spent a week getting acclimated. 95 days left. Israeli universities have a semester break in February. Down to 80 days left. K-12 students have a spring (Passover) break. That left 70 days for me to complete my research. I learned a great deal while in Israel. Yet I am just now beginning to understand how little I know, and I will be teaching Catlin Gabel seventh graders in 14 days. As a wise Israeli fifth grade teacher reminds her students, “When you travel, you learn a lot about other cultures. But, you learn more about yourself.” What did I learn about the Israeli education system? What did I learn about myself?
I was eager to begin my research into the Israeli school system, but I don’t read, speak, or write Hebrew very well. I needed to talk to people who spoke English, read articles in English, etc. But Hebrew is an important part of Israeli culture. It is one of the ties that bind people. Speak Hebrew and one is seen as an Israeli or at least trying to be part of the culture. Speak English and people might be tolerant or even translate, but I was still an outsider. Fortunately, I met many people who talked to me in English, newspapers such as Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post have online English editions, and both Google and Microsoft have passable translators. Technology became my lifeline. It kept me afloat, yet did not quite allow me to swim. I could translate Hebrew into English, verify my understanding with Israeli colleagues, and e-mail people on my laptop. I had a cell phone for person-to-person conversations and interviews. I learned that Israeli educators deal with many of the same issues facing American educators. Finding similarities eased my language anxiety a bit and allowed me to focus more on some of the differences.
Education in Israel is a complex enterprise. I divided my study between higher education folks and K-12 schools. Beyond this basic divide, there also are secular schools, religious schools, ultra-religious schools, and Arab schools. Funding and political power are unequal. While much funding is federal, schools are administered by municipalities, which means wealthier neighborhoods have schools with more resources, parental involvement, etc. There are areas where the school is the only building in a village with electricity. I visited one Bedouin school, near Be’er Sheva, where a generator the size of a camping trailer was providing the school with electricity. Residents, by contrast, relied on solar power, if they had electricity at all.
Israeli schools are faced with a wide spectrum of issues. Often, technology isn't a high priority. I wanted to talk about technology and how teachers were being trained in its use and using it with kids. But I kept reading about violence in schools, poorly paid teachers, high teacher turnover, lack of qualified teachers, curricular differences between religious, ultra-religious, and secular schools, and schools refusing to teach certain students. Perhaps most importantly, education in Israel has to deal with security measures unlike any I have ever experienced as a teacher in America. Every school in Israel is not only fenced, it has an armed guard at the gate. The guard won’t actually admit anybody, but will allow visitors to contact the office. Even when I visited schools as part of a team of Israeli educators, we still had to be admitted by someone who worked at the school, not the guard. Schoolchildren on field trips are accompanied by at least two armed guards the entire time. While no one mentioned the effect of security on kids and most Israelis take security precautions in stride, it has to affect the kids and the adults. Learning about Israeli schools is, as the ogre, Shrek, says, “Like an onion. Peel it back one layer at a time.”
A good mentor tries to develop independence in his charge, and Jay was an excellent mentor. He accomplished four major tasks with me. Jay helped me become independent as a traveler. Israel has a terrific bus system, but it took a number of trips before I felt comfortable. I am now able to travel to any part of Israel to meet educators, visit schools and colleges, and return to Jerusalem safely. Jay introduced me to a few educators who are doing unbelievable work in the field of education technology. Sometimes he attended these meetings, other times I met with people on my own. I joined Israeli educator forums, which required more Google/Bing translation work, and I have been a contributor to these forums since my arrival. One of my suggestions is currently being tried out on Edureshet, a Ning group of technology-using educators. Jay also introduced me to a group of college instructors who were learning how to use technology in their courses. My skills as a technology director and technology-using teacher came in handy, as I was able to participate in class even though my Hebrew was not up to the level it needed to be to participate fully. More than once, after I made a comment, someone would remark, “Oh, so you understand Hebrew.” I didn’t and still don’t, but I understand what is on a screen and have been a presenter often enough to correctly guess what was going on. Lastly, under Jay’s guidance, I attended conferences at Mofet, a unique Israeli institution. Meeting colleagues of all stripes at these conferences was a highlight of my time in Israel, and I look forward to keeping in touch with many of the fine educators I met. While I know Jay did his best to broaden the circle of people with whom I met, and even though he knows, in one way or another, many educators active in the education technology field, my exposure to these people was inevitably influenced by his circle of friends and acquaintances.
More than anything else, I treasured the time I had to read, think, and write. I have followed a few blogs for a number of years, but my blogroll has now grown substantially. Speaking with Israeli colleagues and observing teachers in their classrooms piqued my interest in areas of technology to which I had not previously paid much attention, including ways to incorporate Facebook, Diigo, and other social networking sites, Google forms, and submitting assignments via Moodle. School visits caused me to reflect on my own teaching methods and curriculum. Reading what others wrote on the subject and commenting on posts connected me to educators not just in Israel, but the entire world. I’m not sure where I will find the time to continue all of the reading, but I suspect I will find ways to keep up, or I will join the legions of tech folks who have way too much to read. Thinking about my own teaching, how I approach learning, how I incorporate programs such as All Kinds of Minds, how I utilize the rich resources available to today’s students and teachers, and which skills I want kids to have when they leave my class are all areas I have been lucky enough to explore during my Israel Fulbright. I have shared some of these thoughts in my 33 blog posts.
Now that I am preparing to return to the US, what have I learned about the topics I wanted to explore? There are some Israeli schools engaged in global sharing projects. Perhaps Catlin Gabel will join the growing list of schools participating in global sharing when I return. Some of the software I wanted to share does not “accept” Hebrew input. I have an ongoing correspondence with three software companies encouraging them to tweak their programs to accept Hebrew characters. According to the Israelis, it should be no problem.
There is an ongoing program in Israel, the Athena Fund, whose stated goal is to address the current poor state of the education system, wherein a gap of digital understanding exists between teachers and students, teachers showing fear of computers and not using them for the purpose of teaching and communicating, and their general status in the eyes of their students is at its lowest. The Fund's main project is "a laptop for every teacher."
The Athena Fund aims to complete its work by 2012. From my limited observations, most Israeli schools have a long way to go. Israeli student teachers are not part of the Athena Fund program. This is unfortunate because, if they were, they might be ready to teach with technology when they began their own teaching careers. Instead, they become part of the program only after completion of their training. If I could make one recommendation it would be to give every teaching candidate a laptop at the beginning of their training. Teacher training is stuttering. Early adopting teachers are moving ahead, but many teachers are simply hoping, “this, too, shall pass." What few in the education community are talking about is that Israeli kids already bring cell phones to school and the phones are creating the same problems as cell phones in schools do in the US – distraction of peers through inappropriate use, ringing during school time, class distinctions between students who have “cool” phones and those who do not, etc. There are so many “turf battles” being waged in the education sector that it is difficult for all the folks involved to move in the same direction.
Cutting-edge teaching is always inspiring! I visited schools where creative teachers were involved in innovative programs. I observed students in middle schools where each family had purchased a laptop for their child to use, conduct research, create tables in a word processor and upload the document to Moodle, all in a 45-minute period. I met teachers whose students were creating audio files to go with their stories, which they then used as part of an English lesson. I brainstormed with teachers who were setting up a program to get parents more involved in their local school by having parents and children learn together about using computers. I learned more about the importance of social networking in education than I can possibly recount. This is, of course, a two-edged sword. Students enjoy social networking because they use the tools all the time, they are familiar with them, and they don’t seem like “real work.” But teachers need to help students understand the responsibilities involved in using social networking sites in classes. This includes focusing on school projects, not just updating status, checking on friends, etc. The issues surrounding “proper use” of social networking are not limited to Israeli or American schools/students. Increasingly, corporations are either filtering or intensively monitoring what employees are doing/viewing/ while connected to the corporate network.
Teaching is about making connections. I have done that during the past three months in Israel. Current technology will allow me to stay in touch with the educators and students I have met here. As a Fulbright Distinguished Teacher, I have learned new ways of looking at my teaching, improved my teaching, and I have been fortunate enough to have begun working with others to collectively improve education in both the United States and Israel. As Brian Jones stated after he and his partner had just completed the first around-the-world balloon flight, “I am an ordinary person to whom something extraordinary has happened.”
Out of more than 3,000 students who undertook a rigorous exam process, Yale emerged as one of 20 students from across the U.S. who now make up the 2010 U.S. Physics Team.
The team training camp, which is a crash course in the first two years of university physics, is an integral part of the U.S Physics Team experience. Yale will attend the training camp for his senior project. Students at the camp have the opportunity to hear about cutting edge research from some of the community’s leading physicists. At the end of the training camp, five students will be selected to travel to Croatia for international competition, where more than 400 student scholars from 90 nations will test their knowledge in physics, competing with the best in the world.
The U.S. Physics Olympiad Program was started in 1986 by AAPT to promote and demonstrate academic excellence.
Putting their own spin on the annual senior prank, the class of 2010 pulled off a stunt for the ages: a petting zoo in the middle of the quad!
The seniors started with two simple questions: How can we turn the senior prank tradition into a community-builder? How can we channel mischief toward a gift of generosity?
After several brainstorming sessions they had an epiphany: Petting Zoo! Quad!
During an Upper School assembly, a handful of seniors secretly zipped around putting down hay, erecting a tent, fencing off an area, and bringing in animals.
The hoax, funded entirely by the class of 2010, was a huge success. Weeks of planning paid off when hundreds of students and teachers passed by the surprise menagerie smiling and congratulating the seniors on their inspired idea. And the seniors thoroughly enjoyed bringing preschool, kindergarten, and first grade students to their magical on-campus surprise!
Click on any photo below to begin the slideshow of seniors and their first grade buddies at the petting zoo.
Our caravan of minivans was greeted with a beautiful rosy sunrise early Tuesday morning as we headed out of town en route to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. Student’s handled the long hours in the car well, entertaining themselves and training their eyes to look at the tiny details that make desolate Eastern Oregon fascinating. We arrived at the Field Station, our home away from home for the next few days, and settled into the dorms before exploring the surrounding areas. Around us we could see the snowy Steen’s Mountains, high buttes and low plains, and Malheur Lake. The sun set to a chorus of coyote howls. After dinner we played several wild games of hide and seek and cops and robbers under the brilliant stars before going to bed for an early start the next morning.
We woke early the next morning (some would consider this still nighttime) to meet the naturalist who would teach us about the birds of the area. Some of us had an easier time getting up than others, but luckily nobody was left behind. The naturalist took us along a dirt road way up on a butte in hopes of finding a sage grouse lek (a gathering where males strut to impress females). Each van had a radio so our naturalist could tell everyone about the places we were seeing, and the birds we would hopefully see. After several miles he stopped us and as we peered out the window in the pale dawn light, the puffy white chests and radiating tail feathers of sage grouse appeared. We had found the lek! We listened to the clucking noises they made and watched as the birds strutted around. Our naturalist was so knowledgeable about the area and the birds and we were lucky to have him with us.
As we drove back to the Field Station we kept our eyes open for other animals. We saw some smaller birds and deer, but we were really hoping to see wild horses. We knew that of all the places we would visit, this was the only one we might have a chance to see them. As we got closer & closer to the main road our hopes of seeing the horses dropped. Suddenly, a voice over the radio announced that the first van had spotted wild horses! They were beautiful. A herd of pronghorn stood next to them, providing scale to the huge horses. The pronghorn raced off, but the horses stayed, and we got to watch them for some time as the stallion gathered his herd and studied us.
Viola Vaughn, founder and executive director of the nonprofit 10,000 Girls (http://10000girls.org) in Kaolack, Sénégal, West Africa, will speak at Catlin Gabel on Wednesday, April 7, at 12:45 p.m. in the Middle School Commons during her tour of the United States.
Vaughn is an American with an Ed.D. from Columbia University who received a CNN “Hero” award in 2008. She is a social entrepreneur who has built 10,000 Girls from an idea to a vibrant program currently serving 2,567 girls in 10 towns and villages in rural Sénégal. She periodically tours the U.S., speaking and participating in conferences to raise awareness of her organization's success in helping West African girls succeed as students and entrepreneurs. During her time in Portland Vaughn will also speak at Portland State University.
10,000 Girls has two primary programs: after-school education and skill-building, helping girls stay in school and complete their educations; and entrepreneurship, teaching a craft or trade and business basics to older girls who have already left school and need life skills to become self-reliant. The educational component provides tutoring and resources to help girls succeed in school. Older girls, who are no longer in school, learn sewing, baking, and other marketable skills, creating products such as dolls and table linens, which they sell locally and online. The girls also grow, harvest, and produce hibiscus, which they transform into tea and hope to export to the U.S. as Certified Organic. The girls in the entrepreneurial program have decided to donate nearly 50% of their earnings to the program, making 10,000 Girls entirely self-sustainable. In Sénégal – where 54% of the citizens live below poverty and 48% are unemployed – 10,000 Girls transforms the lives of participating girls and their families.
The dynamic Viola Vaughn, a long-time resident of Sénégal, dramatically describes the challenges and joys of running 10,000 Girls and speaks with passion about her organization's mission. She can relay fascinating stories, including how she convinced banks to open accounts for young girls, a first in Sénégal; why the girls chose to bake and sell cookies to raise money (like America's Girl Scouts); and the what poignant questions the girls pose at summer Democracy Camps in Sénégal.
In Portland, Violla Vaughn hopes to connect with individuals and organizations interested in the education of girls, as well as with businesses that might want to sell 10,000 Girls' products. She will also encourage individuals intending to volunteer for 10,000 Girls in Senegal.
Classes, groups traveling near and far, and individuals are publishing on the website to share their work with the Catlin Gabel community or other specific audiences.
Any student, teacher, or staff member can maintain an individual blog or contribute to a group blog on the Catlin Gabel website. Some blogs are open to everyone visiting our website. Most blogs require login.
You can always find blogs from the Quick Links menu. Happy reading!
Links to specific blogs
Middle and Lower School teachers use classroom pages more often than student blogs. The function is similar.
Lower School French
Competing against high schools many times the size of Catin Gabel, our Blue Team prevailed at the state competition. Congratulations to co-captains Eli Coon and Becky Coulterpark, and team members Talbot Andrews, Conor Carlton, Nina Greenebaum, Andrew Hungate, Grace McMurchie, Kate McMurchie, Megan Stater, and Leah Thompson.
Many thanks to volunteer coaches Bob Bonaparte '73, Nell Bonaparte, Cheryl Coon, Jim Coon, Barb Gazeley, Anushka Shenoy '09, and Pat Walsh.
From the Winter 2010 Caller
Passion: playing the violin
Interests: robotics, soccer
I really like challenges. I love to be challenged in every way possible. Music and robotics keep presenting challenges to me.”
From the Winter 2010 Caller
Passions: Synchronized swimming
Interests: rock & mountain climbing, dance, gymnastics
K: Catlin Gabel’s arts program, especially theater, has helped me realize how I can better get across emotions, which is important in our sport. I’ve learned dedication, focus, and good time management from synchronized swimming, and that really helps me here in school, too.”
From the Winter 2010 Caller
Interests: music, visual arts
Fencing is not the only thing in life I think about. I want to go to the Olympics, but right now it’s not my whole life. In a few years, maybe it will be, but not now. My life is about school, friends, music, fencing, and family. It’s a good life when you go to a really good school and love everything you do.”
From the Winter 2010 Caller
Catlin Gabel students are a fascinating and inspiring group of young people who manifest their engagement with the world in equally fascinating ways. We spoke to students from 2nd to 12th grade about the pursuits they really, really love—and here are excerpts from what they said about where their interests take them, and how Catlin Gabel teachers support those interests and help feed their curiosity. Explore their stories below.
By Lark P. Palma, PhD, Head of School
From the Winter 2010 Caller
Animals were my first great passion—and my parents allowed me to have them if I cared for them well and showed responsibility. I was filled with the same passion when I first played school in my room, lining up all of my stuffed animals and dolls, assigning arbitrary grades from A to F and relegating some to smart status, some not so smart. At school I watched with rapt attention how my teachers would teach us. At home I would either try to do it the same way or try to modify the techniques that didn’t work for my little class.
It was not until I became a teacher myself that I understood that, as someone with a passion for teaching, I could go beyond what’s expected and work with students to realize their own personal goals and passions. I finally saw that the very best model for teaching and learning centers on the relationship between the student and the teacher. What happens collectively as a class is important, but the one-on-one time a student and teacher have together is the most critical element.
It was a breakthrough for me when I realized that and learned—thanks to Roland Barthes, John Dewey, and others—that children are not receptacles for knowledge from adults, but teeming petri dishes of their own ideas and imaginations. How little my teachers in the fifties and sixties understood that—although teachers in Ruth Catlin and Priscilla Gabel’s schools certainly did get it.
Catlin Gabel is a school where teachers are drawn to teach, and we select them to do so, because they understand how children’s minds work, and they want to be surrounded by colleagues who feel the same.
This Caller is filled with stories of alumni and students who have pursued interests, passions, and yes, even obsessions. Graduates who fall into this category are legion, and the students and alumni represented here are just a small sample. Why would a school of this size produce so many people who lead with their passions and know themselves well enough to do that?
For one, Catlin Gabel provides an unfettered, free-ranging approach to solving problems, approaching assignments, and celebrating process over product. I learned to be a good rider because I studied my horse, paying heed to her temperament and the look in her eye, and treating her in a way that reflects that knowledge. In the same way, the students profiled here, whether involved in a sport, an academic pursuit, or an art, learn the value of deep concentration and focused attention. For example, visual artists, like the ones you’ll read about, see relationships among all disciplines, in color and in shapes, and takes those elements to create an original. But mostly, we at Catlin Gabel encourage students fully and unabashedly to follow their passions. And of course, there is the child herself, who has the gift inside. Parents, teachers, and the overarching ethos of the school only undergird those passions.
Alumnus, alumna, or current student, their uniqueness binds us all together and makes for a very, very interesting place to teach. Enjoy these stories.
We set out for the mountain on a warm, sunny Saturday morning, ready for anything. We arrived at Teacup Lake, packed our day-packs, and slathered on sunscreen. Who knew summer arrived in February?! There were several beginner skiers and they all picked up the sport easily, quickly wanting to take the most difficult trails and ski down hills. The first big hill we went down was intimidating at first, but we all skied down it, and were proud of ourselves at having accomplished that. We lunched in a sunny patch with a spectacular view of the mountains.
Both the blue and white mock trial teams had a great day at the 2010 regional trial. The Blue Team advances to state to compete against the best teams in Oregon. This year’s case, State v. Lane, is a criminal case where the defendant, a rap artist, is charged with inciting a riot and arson.
Congratulations to Catlin Blue team members Talbot Andrews, Conor Carlton, Becky Coulterpark, Eli Coon, Nina Greenebaum, Andrew Hungate, Grace McMurchie, Kate McMurchie, Megan Stater, and Leah Thompson.
Catlin White team members include Rohisha Adke, Amanda Cahn, Rachel Caron, Audrey Davis, Layla Entrikin, Brian Farci, James Furnary, Mira Hayward, Thalia Kelly, Jackson Morawski, Grant Phillips, Charlie Shoemaker, Henry Shulevitz, Curtis Stahl, Lynne Stracovsky, Terrance Sun, Karuna Tirumala, and Michael Zhu.