News

Paly teams earn honors in science, math contests

From Science Bowl to 'Collaborative Problem-Solving' in math, high school fields winners

Students at Palo Alto High School continue to rack up national honors in science and mathematics this spring -- including placing second in a national math contest, announced Monday.

In Washington, D.C., earlier this month, students Lynnelle Ye, Michael Yuan, Rui Shu, Albert Lin and Kevin Hu tied for seventh place in the National Science Bowl, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Paly competed against 68 regional-champion teams representing 42 states and 20,000 students in thousands of high schools.

Of the three Bay Area high schools represented in the finals, Paly finished first, besting Lynbrook High School of San Jose and Mission San Jose High School of Fremont.

The team earned $1,000 for the Paly Science Department, and a personal congratulations from U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning former Stanford University physics professor and director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Paly's Science Bowl team was coached by Science Teacher Shawn Leonard.

A math contest organization announced Monday that a Paly team placed second in the 2010 Collaborative Problem-Solving Contest sponsored by National Assessment and Testing.

While most math competitions encourage rote memorization, familiar problems and quick mental reflexes, the problem-solving contest presented schools with 15 "unique, intricate problems to be solved over the course of a week," the organization said.

Coached by Paly's Mathematics Instructional Supervisor Suz Antink, students used brainstorming, collaboration, research and technology to solve the problems.

Antink said the core members of the math team are John Boyle, Mark Nishimura, Jeffrey Ling, Jeffrey Yan, Allen Zheng, Justin Krasner-Karpen, Kiho Alvin Kim, Avi Arfin, Lynnelle Ye, Ben Sklaroff, Matt Miller, Grace Fang, Sophie Wang, Stephen Hu, Pierre Bourbannais, Nassim Fedel, Nikhil Bhargava and Scott Zhuge.

Besides placing second, Paly was commended for having the highest score on eight of the 15 problems, including the open-ended problem, for which the team submitted a problem involving an encrypted Rubic's Cube.

For Paly senior Lynnelle Ye, the Science Bowl competition represented at least her third trip to the east coast in recent months.

In March, Ye was in the capital to claim honors in the Intel Science Talent Search, in which she placed fourth in the nation for her project on game theory. Ye also placed second in the nation in the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology.

Ye also participated in Paly's prize-winning Science Olympiad, a national organization that runs K-12 science competitions, which it describes as similar to "academic track meets."

Advised by Leonard as well as teachers Ron Bowditch, Michelle Steingart and Janet Shyr, Science Olympiad members include students Erika Ji, Kathy Woo, Ruby Maa, Stella Chen, Albert Lin, Chris Liu, Jenny Hong, Kevin Hu, Michelle Chung, Michael Yuan, Rui Shu, Dan Shan, Karine Hsu and Ye.

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Comments

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Posted by Paly Alum
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 18, 2010 at 10:53 am

Congratulations Paly scientists!

My children had wonderful opportunities at Paly as well. Use your skills to make this world a better place. We need talented young people to solve some of the catastrophic conditions that are rearing their ugly heads with alarming regularity. The Earth (Our Mother) is crying out to be healed and science can help with this process.

You should be very proud of yourselves!


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Posted by Mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 18, 2010 at 10:58 am

It would be interesting to know where those students are getting their math instruction. How many are involved in Saturday schools to boost their math skills?


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Posted by It's Not Everyday!
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 18, 2010 at 11:23 am

Congratulations to these hard-working students and their dedicated teachers and advisors. It will be interesting to see whether the students learning under the "Everyday Math" program will do as well in the future...


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Posted by Pre-K Dad
a resident of another community
on May 18, 2010 at 11:34 am

Mom: I could be off the mark, but from your tone it sounds like you find extra math instruction unfair or objectionable. Isn't it akin to playing lots of tennis to get better at it? Or being coached at swimming to be a faster swimmer? I have noticed that a lot of other readers (responding to other topics) share what I interpret to be your point of view. I personally don't think that talent at this level is an innate gift (born of heredity for instance), it has to come through specialized instruction and hard work.


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Posted by palypal
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on May 18, 2010 at 12:03 pm

Mom: Obviously, it is from their PALY's DNA. Not everything are cookable!


Like this comment
Posted by congratulations!
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 18, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Congratulations, students!


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Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 18, 2010 at 1:03 pm

Congratulations! You make us all proud.


Like this comment
Posted by ag
a resident of Barron Park
on May 18, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Congratulations to our students.

I do think "Mom" has a point. If the contest is meant to be a reflection of the excellence of our schools, there should be no need for extra coaching or tutoring outside the school. Sorry, but this is not akin to sports...


Like this comment
Posted by Parent in MT
a resident of Midtown
on May 18, 2010 at 1:29 pm

I am amazed to discover that all the winning Paly team participants seem Chinese (from their last names). Is there more to this angle?


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Posted by midtown mom
a resident of Meadow Park
on May 18, 2010 at 1:44 pm

Yay for PALY! Yay for these intelligent students!


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Posted by former PALY parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 18, 2010 at 2:01 pm

There is a high level of awareness and advance planning by parents now for these types of competitions (individual and group).
Many students involved in competitive math and science contests here have been prepared outside of school for years, plus I know some have done very high quality summer programs, too. So plan ahead if this is something you'd like your kid to be competitive in. It doesn't happen by serendipity.


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 18, 2010 at 2:15 pm

Congratulations!
Who was on the Math team? Only the science team members are mentioned.


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Posted by Chris Kenrick, Palo Alto Weekly staff
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 18, 2010 at 3:49 pm

palo alto mom:
Math team member names have come in and been added to the story.


Like this comment
Posted by qq
a resident of Barron Park
on May 18, 2010 at 5:27 pm

MT,

This graphic may help answer your question.

Web Link

qq


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Posted by Paly Student
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 18, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Mom: None of these students take math classes on the weekend. However, many do go to math camps over the summer, since they truly enjoy the subject.


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Posted by jardins
a resident of Midtown
on May 19, 2010 at 12:25 am

These are certainly very talented students, and I hope that they are also well-adjusted members of the larger community and not pressured into such highly competitive performance.

How to celebrate their achievement without implying that the other Paly & Gunn students aren't significant, too?


Like this comment
Posted by jardins
a resident of Midtown
on May 19, 2010 at 12:29 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Like this comment
Posted by Paly Alum
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 19, 2010 at 6:44 am

I agree that there is too much competitiveness at our Palo Alto schools in some instances but the last commenter "jardins" is an example of someone who should keep certain sentiments out of print. Shame on you parents who are constantly at each other sniping back and forth. Is a child not allowed to be self-motivated, set their own goals and excel? Perhaps one or more of these winners never had any extra outside tutoring. My child was elected a National Merit Scholar and never took an SAT prep course. I am not bragging but some kids are naturally talented and don't have to be pushed by the parents. We don't know what the backgrounds of these students are (other than etnicity judging by the names) and frankly we shouldn't care. Let's just assume the best and celebrate the high achievements reported here.


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Posted by former PALY parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 19, 2010 at 9:09 am

Paly student, you are incorrect. I am not looking at all the names right now, but I know for a fact one of the students I know quite well who is listed has had tutoring, outside classes, EPGY, elite summer programs instate and out of state for years, for example.


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Posted by Student
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 19, 2010 at 10:19 am

Most of them have camps but no Saturday school or whatever you're talking about.


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Posted by BTDT
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 19, 2010 at 12:03 pm

Pre-K Dad,

The issue of tutoring comes up frequently in PA, as you will see once your children hit late elementary. Parents discuss it, the school takes surveys on it, etc., because it plays a large role in the mathematical education of PA students.

There is a range of kids: some can move much faster than the curriculum allows, some are just right, and others need help to keep up. I think the issue sometimes becomes contentious for a few reasons.

In many cases, parents provide tutoring for kids who don't necessarily need it so that they can master the skills in advance and get good grades--this skews the results and makes it difficult for kids from families that cannot afford tutoring or do not want to add to the academic stress. In addition, the schools rely on all of this tutoring, which distorts how they teach and what they offer and who they offer it to. It's a very cozy relationship.


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Posted by another parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 19, 2010 at 1:13 pm

Congratulations students! Job well done!
Why do some parents question academic achievements like this one? How about sports? I know parents who hire private coaches to better their kids' swimming, batting, soccer skills. No one ever question that! Lets all take pride in ALL academic and athletic achievements!


Like this comment
Posted by former PALY parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 19, 2010 at 2:28 pm

The paid tutoring and prep is not an issue but someone mentioned it and rising parents ought to be aware of the "system" that exists in reality here. It is nothing to do with what old folks think of as remedial tutoring. It is more like cram schools. Heavy support outside of school goes on year round for certain students and they sure as heck benefit when they know a lot of curriculum in advance.
it is an advantage in the major math competitions, other competitions, SAT tests, AP tests, applications to university.
One mother told me her student "only" got to the regional level on AMC 12? or AIME at the high school level (this was good by most peoples' standards, though I am sorry my specific description is vague) since he had "only" been tutored for three years for it. Some of this preparation is VERY expensive and not all parents can afford it. She assured me most students who got very far in these contests had more years of tutoring.
less than a decade ago a brochure was handed out a PALY orientation (prob first day for freshmen?) advertising an Asian cram school in Cupertino bragging of named students, their various scores, and where they had been admitted to university. They listed tons of specific prep courses, like AP Chem, various specific math competitions, etc. This was very open.I considered complaining about this tasteless brochure to the PALY office, but realized PALY was unaware and nothing would effectively stop this commercial advertising after the fact.
I have nothing against math test, but it is not a level competitive playing ground because one benefits from having very aware parents who plan years in advance to get their kids years ahead in their math skills and knowledge and have the money to do so. This does not happen by accident.
Some parents here are very goal-oriented and they do indeed plan out, schedule, and pay for extensive efforts that advantage their students over their similar peers.


Like this comment
Posted by JustKidding
a resident of Midtown
on May 19, 2010 at 3:09 pm

former PALY parent, relax and smile, especially you are a "former" parent. I feel tense reading your post, but not because of the "system", but because of your tone.


Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 19, 2010 at 7:46 pm

Former Paly Parent's tone was very fair. Taking nothing away from these wonderful, bright students, there are many people in PA that are very math and science focussed - that is a good thing. They provide extra training for their kids - also a good thing (and has been pointed out, happens in the sports world all the time.) One unfortunate side effect of the addition training is that regular kids, perfect bright and capable (in math, baseball, science or whatever) become discouraged when they are not able to compete.

The extra training creates an uneven playing field. Yes it happens everywhere in academics and in sports. It just happens a LOT more frequently in Palo Alto than many parts of the country.

Being a "regular" kid in palo alto can make you feel like a failure.


1 person likes this
Posted by Student
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 19, 2010 at 9:32 pm

The only advantage that these students have over other "bright" students is their interest, often cultivated in middle school.

The issue of an uneven playing field is false: summer camps are either free (for the very best ones, like MOP) or they offer scholarships. Furthermore, summer camps *are not* the best method to achieve success in these contests. The great majority of the aforementioned high achieving students acquire their level of math/science creativity and knowledge through hard work and persistence, using such accessible resources as library books or books purchased on Amazon (*gasp* 20 bucks?!).
Moreover, there exist no such "Saturday Programs". I challenge anyone to give me the name of one.

I will spot you that the only advantage that exists for these students is, in some cases, having their interests encouraged in middle school by extremely dedicated teachers. However, the resources these students sought are extremely accessible to anyone bright enough: joining the math club and participating in middle school math and science competitions open to anyone who actively seeks them.

The "heavy support" these students receive outside of school are tons of self-motivation and healthy parental encouragement (enabling).

As to the allegation that capable people are not able to compete in science and math competitions, the idea is laughable: anyone in the highest honors math lane can participate in the AMC's, and anyone who can write their name on a sign up sheet can participate in the science Olympiad team.
What makes the difference is personal drive which allows the students to excel in the competitions.

Particularly in math, Paly runs an Advanced Problem Solving Class after school (well what do you know, it's free!) that anyone can sign up for. It allows students of all capabilities to pursue competition math to the level that they choose with an extremely dedicated teacher in Mrs. Antink.

@PALY Parent: the person who got to the AIME after 3 years of tutoring was probably not spending his/her time on the right areas. Eg. Tutoring is unnecessary and oftentimes unhelpful. I personally know over 20 people who qualified for the AIME by just being the bright and capable people that they are, supplemented by really great school teachers.
Furthermore, parents do not “plan years in advance to get their kids years ahead in math skills”. Math competitions do not require advanced learning. For instance, the most prestigious math competition in the country, the USAMO, requires only precalculus topics. Even though almost all of the successful math competitors have skipped a grade of two in math, the correlation is not causal: these people skipped grades in math because they showed great potential in middle school (not from having their parents spend thousands of dollars on tutoring).

Being a “regular” kid in Palo Alto will only make you feel like a failure if you have the wrong priorities. These competitions are made for fun. If you have ability, determination, and great teachers you WILL succeed. If you lack any one of the three, it will be very hard for you. The good thing is, all of us in Palo Alto have equal access to these resources.

Lastly, I take great offense at the racism exhibited by the people in this thread against the Asian community (eg. Talking about an Asian cram school which obviously does not call itself that and posting a link to China’s competence at math and science versus the US’s incompetence).


Like this comment
Posted by BTDT
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 19, 2010 at 10:10 pm

Sorry palo alto mom, but the sports analogy is faulty.

The training in sports does not help kids get ahead academically (PE grades aren't based on performance). The outside math tutoring does help students get better grades (since many of them are covering the material for the second time in class). The tutoring and outside classes are an advantage not available to all, and they skew the grades.


Like this comment
Posted by Parent
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 19, 2010 at 11:25 pm

Read the student's comments everyone, he/she is spot on. Stop ranting about tutoring, you can do what you want to if you devote time to it.


Like this comment
Posted by Paly Junior
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 20, 2010 at 2:34 am

Well said Student! You were spot on! I find it quite absurd that so many of these parents are making countless assumptions about Paly students. Many of them act as if they know more about us than that we do. For example, as a Paly student who does study mathematics for fun, I was startled when commenters above started mentioning Saturday math classes expensive math camps... Who's ever heard of Saturday math classes in Palo Alto? Secondly, most math camps are either free or have significant scholarship. They are often much cheaper than the camps that many less mathematically-passionate students attend such as band, sport, service, and art camps. I'm not trying to stereotype or anything, but most people who excel at math or science at Paly (e.g. go to competitions or skip years) do not have many economic advantages over their "less driven" counterparts. In fact, most of them are middle class (often immigrant) hardworking students who want to challenge themselves. Most of them are not obnoxiously rich and do not hire private tutors. Instead, they have great teachers and participate in Paly's free (gasp!) Problem solving class and Math Club.


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Posted by BTDT
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 20, 2010 at 8:45 am

Paly Junior,

"Who's ever heard of Saturday math classes in Palo Alto?"

Your argument is that the classes don't exist because you haven't heard of them. I think you can see the flaw there. I know kids who attend those classes--it's not just rumors--but they don't like to talk about it much. Many kids go to these classes or have tutors. Please go look up the district survey of parents, which showed a very high percentage of parents getting tutoring/extra instruction for their kids. And many camps are extremely expensive with little or no scholarship available for families living in PA.

As for the rest, you are conflating several things. The kids who truly excel (skipping, etc.) are beside the point--with some encouragement, they will excel with or without tutoring, camp, etc. (The district more or less neglects those kids because it can count on them to do well.)

But there is a whole group of kids who are not gifted but who are crammed full of extra instruction in advance (starting in middle school) so that they can do well on school tests. That is what some parents object to, partly because gaming the system is unfair and partly because it turns a potentially academically fascinating subject into a race for points.

I don't see any reason to think that the kids who are artificially prepped will do better in the long run at mathematics. They just get better grades, learn how to game the system, and come to value points above education.


Like this comment
Posted by former Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 20, 2010 at 9:27 am

"summer camps are either free..."
What about kids being sent by parents to Johns Hopkins CTY summer programs at universities? Those aren't free. Those apps take planning and parental knowledge. And they are excellent preparation for HS math and science (I don't know about the math competitions in this case)


Like this comment
Posted by former Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 20, 2010 at 10:07 am

This is a discussion that surfaces periodically. I know there are some kids who are gifted. For some reason, though, lan awful lot of people assert their kids are gifted while constantly supplementing and pressuring them. For some reason, all the status and acclaim on giftedness around here seems to focus on mathematics. Some of us have a more global view and recognize a much greater diversity of subjects, interests, talents out there.
I know there are some who are interested and motivated in math and science. There is nothing wrong with parents being goal-oriented for their kids, either. Most here are interested in learning and education, but the real focus lately is....winning, grades, competitions, multiple Ivy admissions for the status rather than the school match. It isn't, I got into MIT, it's I got into these X # of Ivies or near-Ivies, leading to these ridiculous waitlist situations.
It's the appalling poor taste of the constant bragging of grades and SAT scores.
However, DON'T tell me it is a level playing field when some kids have done the curriculum in advance of certain courses, courtesy of their parents making that happen, they didn't fall into that by accident and it permits these kids to receive an A without much effort when others are learning material as they go in the classroom.
I am more impressed with a kid who can discuss a topic knowledgeably rather than regurgitate it back strictly on tests/for grades. Some kids are prepped to be experts at taking tests - that IS an advantage but it doesn't mean you're superior to many out there who have not had this prep. I have tested several such teens in the course of normal conversation/socializing and determined they are test-prepped rather than educated, which is sad. We are getting awfully grade and test and competition-obsessed in recent years in Silicon Valley.
Kids who take advanced courses and learn as they are taught in the classroom are no less bright or motivated, they just don't have parents who smooth the way in advance for them -or they don't have the $$ to do that.
It is undeniable that a top status symbol here is having your kid finish BC Calc AP by 11th grade and attend Stanford Math. This is a narrow definition of success in the greater world - just be aware of it if you aren't. I know there are several genius math kids who have done this, however I also know there are regular kids who have been motivated and pressed by parents for years to get into this position.
It is undeniable there are some kids who are regular kids who are constantly prepped by their parents and "motivated" to be interested in math and science. They sigh as they are unavailable for alternate activities since they are committed to their tutoring. These kids then become advantaged - they eventually recognize their superior position and feel confidence. I know someone who attended CTY summer programs and this student wouldn't have been able to attend these "gifted programs" without extensive paid preparation - they wouldn't have qualified! So it is not "natural" in some cases I have seen.
Parents of 6th graders, don't be naive to this. It will affect your students in all the coming years until they enter college.
Take action or not with your own rising teens in this regard, but be aware of the huge industry out there (sometimes under the table) that preps teens for grades, SAT, APs, college apps (including total handholding, essays, strategies for resumes and activities, math competitions, and "gifted programs" that go on the teen's resume for college apps. I know there is a student's mother who has been prepping a group for years here and she told the students to not tell teachers this is happening.


Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 20, 2010 at 10:28 am

A side effect of the tutoring, summer camps, etc. is that particularly high school math teachers feel like they do not need to spend much time actually instructing the kids - they already know the material before the class even starts. The kids who haven't pre-learned everything are at a disadvantage (and often too embarrassed to speak up in class.)

I know of a group of kids who plan on spending this summer going through the whole Chemistry book so that next year it will be all review for them. So these kids get to class next year, they already know the material, they answer questions easily, all of which is good for them. But the teacher then thinks he/she doesn't need to spend much time instructing because the kids get it so easily (because they have already studied it outside of school). The kids who spent the summer being kids, or traveling, or playing soccer think they are dumb or behind because they don't get it because the teacher doesn't need to teach because the kids already know it... So the "regular" kids feel like a failure when in reality, they just haven't been taught yet.

BTDT - I never meant that extra training in sports helps you get ahead academically - I said extra coaching helps you get ahead. Your baseball coach helps you with baseball, your math tutor helps you with math... I don't think anyone is Palo Alto is worried about their PE grade.


Like this comment
Posted by former Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 20, 2010 at 10:54 am

I don't object to kids looking ahead.
What I object to is the parent-arranged paid prepping which goes on for years. I even had a kid who asked a "friend" if my kid could join a group tutored by a local parent and my kid was told no. Reminds me to mention when newspapers disclosed that Saratoga High had a controversy: several kids took AP Calc (BC, I assume) over the summer at West Valley Jr College, didn't declare it, THEN took the exact same class for a grade at Saratoga. It was pretty easy for them, ya think? This was carefully planned. This is an example of sort of things that go on, and it is not fair when grades and every brownie point counts so much in the competition of top college apps nowadays. A student who does his/her own work can slip up and get an A- and get penalized, while a hand-held student gains the advantage in college apps. I REALLY hope universities start catching on more about essays written/edited by others and the like. What one hopes is a genuine student app driven by the student, but that often is not the case at the highest levels.
BTW, if you don't think college apps are competitive, let me assure you they are now, and a lot has to do with students "proving" how many top acceptances they can gain for bragging purposes, rather than desiring to sincerely find a match with a particular university; what's more this results in the ridiculous waitlists we see lately. Think of it: it's impossible to know and fully have a match with 20 schools, yet some Palo Alto kids have the $$ to put in all those apps. One kid can only accept and attend one school, yet a "top" student will lock up a bunch of top schools, precluding their peers at their own high school from an offer (since geographic diversity is usually sought by universities). This is why each and every advantage is being cannily sought by some parents here and I sincerely wish to let the small percentage of naive parents (opf younger kids than mine) in on this so they can be aware and not caught by surprise. Seek out as many contests and competitions as you can; naive parents and students let these opportunities go by, while parents who manage their kids as projects seek these out. You can't win if you don't prepare and enter in the first place.


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Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on May 20, 2010 at 11:29 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


1 person likes this
Posted by Student
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 20, 2010 at 2:57 pm

As a member of the Paly math club, I can personally assure you that no one who succeeds in math competitions attends a Saturday school or has a tutor for math competitions.

As to people getting tutors for classes, that probably happens.

People who complain about students learning the material beforehand are just whining; if you're not willing to put in the work and sacrifice lots of your time to get an A in a class, you shouldn't. Kids learning things over the summer is analagous to one putting in extra work during the school year. If you want to play soccer, that's just something you're going to have to deal with (or do both?).

The person who mentioned CTY is deluded: people don't skip math classes or succeed in math competitions through summer programs like CTY.

"It is undeniable that a top status symbol here is having your kid finish BC Calc AP by 11th grade and attend Stanford Math."
I'm pretty sure that anyone who has the ability to succeed in a math class one/two grade levels up have already skipped. Although it is possible that someone who hasn't already skipped can skip, most of these people end up not being able to succeed and drop down or don't get an A. Those who have the highest chance of succeeding were chosen at the end of 6th grade (some cases 7th).

"I know of a group of kids who plan on spending this summer going through the whole Chemistry book so that next year it will be all review for them. So these kids get to class next year, they already know the material, they answer questions easily, all of which is good for them. But the teacher then thinks he/she doesn't need to spend much time instructing because the kids get it so easily (because they have already studied it outside of school). The kids who spent the summer being kids, or traveling, or playing soccer think they are dumb or behind because they don't get it because the teacher doesn't need to teach because the kids already know it... So the "regular" kids feel like a failure when in reality, they just haven't been taught yet."
It is entirely possible to succeed in Chemistry without reading the textbook over the summer. It's also not true that teachers don't teach at the point where truckloads of students get A's in Chem AC every year (without studying all summer). If you can't succeed in chem, then either revise your goals or sacrifice some time studying harder. Tutors are available for free at the paly ARC (these are intelligent upperclassmen who have succeeded in your class) and it's surely not too much trouble to buy a $40 Chemistry book on Amazon (or even check one out at the library).

"However, DON'T tell me it is a level playing field when some kids have done the curriculum in advance of certain courses, courtesy of their parents making that happen, they didn't fall into that by accident and it permits these kids to receive an A without much effort when others are learning material as they go in the classroom."
Doing the curriculum in advance of a course is a personal choice and it's accessible (you can buy a book). If others rare learning material as they go into the classroom, they will either succeed or fail. If they fail, it is a result of lack of ability or determination. It's not the fault of the teacher at the point where many people succeed without "advance training".



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Posted by former Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 20, 2010 at 4:53 pm

-IMO most people in the world would consider it deceptive to learn the exact curriculum, with book supplied by parent or tutor IN ADVANCE of taking it for a grade. I was very clear in my comments that I did not mean a student being outgoing or interested and "looking ahead" on a subject - I was clear that I know some kids have learned the exact material in advance at the paid direction of their parents. This IS an advantage and some would consider it not the greatest ethical way to attend school and earn grades.
- I made it clear that I was not directing all of my observations about the math team, past or present. #1 some of us have a long history here. #2 I made it clear that there is a realm of paid support supplied by some parents to some kids year round that results in an absolute advantage in the competition for grades, awards, SAT scores, college apps. It's a lot broader than a math team at any one point in time.


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Posted by Pre-K Dad
a resident of another community
on May 20, 2010 at 9:10 pm

I find the various points of view on "advanced" tutoring very interesting. I have a technical background, and I plan to supplement my child's math and science education at home. My reasoning for doing so stems from my own personal experience. I went to a average high-school in a blue-collar town (many many years ago). I was always at the top of my class in math and science and never did any preparation outside of school work. I graduated with the equivalent of 4.0 GPA on AP math/science classes and went on to a top engineering school where again I was near the top of the class. But I did not understand the beauty and art in mathematics until I got into graduate school. By that time it was way too late, and I produced mediocre work in a mathematical engineering discipline. I have always felt cheated in my education. If I had been properly trained as a child I would have understood what math was all about before getting to college. That would have prepared me for doing much better work in graduate school. Of course the child has to like doing math/science. I would never push very hard because that could easily backfire with disastrous consequences. I just want to give my child the chance for excellence if he shows an interest in it.


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What is your climate personality?
By Sherry Listgarten | 30 comments | 1,773 views

Eat Your Values – August 15
By Laura Stec | 1 comment | 1,207 views

The Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) Process Explained
By Steve Levy | 2 comments | 1,032 views

Do something about assault weapons, now!
By Diana Diamond | 33 comments | 982 views

 

Early Bird rates end Sunday!

​On Friday, October 11, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families. Early Bird prices end Sun., Aug 18.

Register now