November 2008
Educational Options Newsletter
In this issue


Here are two competitions designed for middle school and/or high school students:

The International Linguistics Olympiad

On Wednesday, February 4, 2009, high school students are invited to participate in the 2009 North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad (NACLO) Open competition. This is similar to events that have taken place in Russia and Eastern Europe for 40 years, but has only recently been implemented in the US.

This olympiad is a contest in which high-school students solve linguistic puzzles. In solving the problems, students learn about the diversity and consistency of language, while exercising logic skills. No prior knowledge of linguistics or second languages is necessary. Professionals in linguistics, computational linguistics and language technologies use dozens of the world's languages to create engaging problems that represent cutting edge issues in their fields.

This event is an opportunity for students who are interested in languages and speech technologies to exercise their talents and problem-solving skills in a good-natured competitive event. For many students linguistics - and computational linguistics in particular - is a rather unknown academic discipline. This event raises students' awareness of the discipline, including the incredible variety and beauty of the world's languages, while challenging their natural problem-solving and analytic skills. It is one of the few opportunities students have to meld cross-cultural awareness with technical interests.

NACLO is currently sponsored by the US National Science Foundation, Google, the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics (NAACL), and Cambridge University Press. Top scorers in the Open Competition on February 4 will be eligible to compete in an Invitational Competition on March 11, 2009. Winners of the Invitational will be eligible to compete in the International Linguistics Olympiad (ILO) in Poland.

More details about the event, including several media reports and testimonials from participants, can be found on the national website. Students should register by January 20, 2009.

Construction Challenge

Many students and families are familiar with Destination ImagiNation or Odyssey of the Mind. Now Destination ImagiNation, working with the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, is sponsoring The Construction Challenge, a career education initiative to develop the workforce of the future. Teenagers compete and solve infrastructure, design, and service challenges in a real-world experience that will inspire them to explore and pursue careers in the construction industry.

Middle and high school teams will compete and solve infrastructure, design, and service tech Challenges using teamwork, creativity and problem solving. Teams of five to seven participants (plus an adult Team Manager) will compete in 16 Regional Rallies across North America, with the top 50 teams advancing to the Championships in Knoxville on May 19 to 23, 2009. Click here for more information. To register a team, click on the Regional Rally city and follow instructions. Please note there are fees to participate.


We wish all our readers a very Happy Thanksgiving. This year in particular it is an occasion to give thanks for our blessings. And we hope that your blessings include the love of family and friends.

Because of today's uncertain economy, Educational Options is offering a 10% discount for all our services during the month of December. These services include assessments on the Stanford-Binet 5 and the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test-II, personality profiles, and in-person or telephone consultations, plus more. (Click on "Services" on our home page.)

Sincerely, Kathy Hara, Editor

Davidson Academy

Applications for the 2009-2010 school year at the Davidson Academy are now available. The Davidson Academy of Nevada is specifically designed to meet the needs of profoundly gifted middle and high school students at the sixth grade level and beyond who score in the 99.9th percentile on qualifying tests.

Located in the renovated Jot Travis Building on the University of Nevada, Reno campus, the Academy's new facility is approximately 30,000 square feet and wireless, including classrooms with smart technology.

Tours for prospective students will take place on the following dates: December 11, 2008; January 22, 2009; February 19, 2009; and March 26, 2009. RSVPs are required for these tours. For application requirements and to apply, click here.

About.com: Gifted Kids

We can always use more good information about giftedness. Here's an interesting website with many features. It has articles on identifying gifted, school options, a blog, and even fun information such as how to enter a contest to name the next Mars Rover! You may also sign up for a weekly newsletter.

Thinking about summer

I know it's early, but I wanted to pass on information about a summer camp for profoundly gifted that I found on the Internet last year. It is PG Retreat, and this nonprofit is located in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Here is the information posted on their website: PG Retreat is an annual gathering organized by the families of profoundly gifted children. PG Retreat brings our children together for shared connections and community. Although every child is unique and beautiful in his or her own way, profoundly gifted children often have a difficult time finding true peers within their day-to-day communities. Our gathering provides an opportunity to meet, learn, socialize, and yes, even play with other children who are developmentally advanced. The mission of PG Retreat is to enrich the social-emotional lives of profoundly gifted children and their families. We conduct gatherings of these families and the professionals who serve them, providing learning opportunities and fostering lasting friendships among true peers. PG Retreat provides outlets for physical, intellectual, social and emotional, and spiritual expression and is not focused solely on academic enrichment.

Math blog

Stephen Margolis, a math volunteer at Montessori and elementary schools in the Minneapolis area, has a blog, sewardmath1.blogspot.com. He started this blog to give parents and home schoolers some math problems about everyday life - starting with questions mostly about tips, taxes, discounts and other applications of percentage, including unit price, but more recently dealing with more contemporary issues such as election recounts.

Here's a short example from an August 14 entry:

Walking in kilometers: Today, we walked 4 kilometers (4000 meters) in 33 minutes and 27 seconds. What was our speed in meters per second? Hint: convert minutes to seconds, add 27 to get seconds. Divide to get meters per second. Is this reasonable: make chalk marks, 2 meters apart. Start walking at one-Mississippi, hit the first chalk mark at two-Mississippi, can you hit the second chalk mark at three-Mississippi?

Go to the blog to get the answer!

Keeping up with Dr. Ruf
DLR at Nature Center

During the NAGC annual convention in Tampa a month ago, Dr. Ruf attended a Nature's Classroom session. Each year she signs up for local excursions so as to learn more about what is available for students in the local areas in different states. Educators experienced a condensed version of the three-day course for all Hillsborough County sixth grade students, classes and experiences in water, land and habitat ecology. Among their activities was sifting for organisms in the Hillsborough River.

Dr. Ruf is also continuing her work with the Maine School of Science and Mathematics after spending an entire day delivering workshops on how personality, gender, and intellectual profile affect school behaviors. An upshot of the experience thus far has been to collaborate with faculty and administration on policy changes related to mission statement and "the meaning of an MSSM diploma." Working with Dr. Ruf helped the school to see that the same high standards for every student might not be appropriate or look the same for individual students. The current work now includes how to support specific students and how to work with the funding body, the State Legislature of Maine.

Losing Our Minds
Dr. Ruf's book, Losing Our Minds: Gifted Children Left Behind, is available through Great PotentialPress or Amazon.

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