Teen Taught by Mom Wins Top Science Competition

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I'm Faith Lapidus with the VOA Special English Education Report.

A sixteen-year-old boy from California has won first prize in the Siemens Westinghouse Competition in Math, Science and Technology. Michael Viscardi of San Diego does not go to high school. His mother teaches him at home.

His mother has a doctorate in neuroscience; his father is a software engineer.

Michael does, however, attend advanced math classes at the University of California, San Diego. He worked on his project with his professor.

The project involved a mathematical problem first developed in the nineteenth century by the French mathematician Lejeune Dirichlet. The winning research shows solutions to the problem. One of the judges said the young man's work could lead to new developments in heat flow and other areas of physics. One possible use is in designing the shape of airplane wings.

The Siemens Westinghouse competition awards a top prize of one hundred thousand dollars for college to one individual and one team. The team prize this year went to two students from Arizona, Anne Lee and Albert Shieh. They will share one hundred thousand dollars in college money.

They improved computer programs used to study large amounts of genetic information. The two did their work at the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix, Arizona Their research could lead to finding genetic changes that cause some disorders.

The Siemens Foundation joined with the College Board and six universities to start the competition in nineteen ninety-eight. This year, more than one thousand six hundred students took part.

Experts from the universities judge competitions in six areas of the country. The individual and team winners from those areas then compete nationally. They demonstrate their research projects to a group of university professors and scientists. The top winners were chosen last week.

The Siemens Foundation created the competition to improve student performance in math and science in the United States. It is open to American high school students who develop independent research projects in the physical or biological sciences or mathematics.

This VOA Special English Education Report was written by Nancy Steinbach. Internet users can read and listen to our reports at WWW.testbig.com. I'm Faith Lapidus.