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Topic: Introducing a scientific child prodigy  (Read 16438 times)

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Offline Valentine Cawley

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Introducing a scientific child prodigy
« on: January 29, 2007, 06:07:40 AM »
My son is a chemistry prodigy aged seven years and two months. I started a blog about him a few months ago which might interest some who frequent this site.

If so, it is at: www.scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com

Thanks.

Happy reading.

Offline mike

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Re: Introducing a scientific child prodigy
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2007, 07:27:23 PM »
Don't push your children like that man, let them be kids.. sure they know a few impressive words and may have a genuine interest in science or dinosaurs or whatever, but why rush them through life dude?
There is no science without fancy, and no art without facts.

Offline Valentine Cawley

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Re: Introducing a scientific child prodigy
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2007, 04:31:29 AM »
Hi Mike

It is a common misconception that parents of prodigious children are pushy. I rather think it is, in fact, impossible to push a child to be prodigious, in any way, whatsoever: either the child is, or they aren't. The reality of raising such a child is that the parents have to run very hard to keep up with their child: the child does the "pushing".

My son is a largely self-taught young chemist and physical scientist - it is only six months ago that I started to help him with what he was already doing of his own accord: studying the sciences, at an adult level. That he was six at the time made me pay attention to what he was doing and begin to help him.

Far from being a negative factor, helping such a child grow intellectually is the only thing that will save them from the deathly boredom of their school environment - which does not cater for children able to operate a dozen or more years beyond their age mates.

I posted here in the hope that he might have some contact with adult scientists, which might help him in some way: for it looks like he will soon be a working scientist himself (a handful of years at the most). This is his ambition, not mine.

Despite the subdued response of this board, I feel that it is a forum that would interest him.

Kind regards

Offline mike

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Re: Introducing a scientific child prodigy
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2007, 07:17:59 PM »
I agree that you should encourage your child. I agree that you don't want your child to be bored at school. You just have to be careful that there is a balance. Working way ahead of other children his age may negatively effect social development, as will interacting too much with adults rather than other children. Some children may academically operate ahead of their class but this does not mean that physically they are ahead, mentally, or socially ahead.

I hope that your son does continue his passion and enthusiasm for science, we need all of the passionate scientists that we can get. Don't forget that he has plenty of time on his side. If he is 6 or 7 now, I don't see him "working as a scientist" in a few years. Maybe 11 or 12 years more.

Is he a registered member of this forum yet?
There is no science without fancy, and no art without facts.

Offline Ψ×Ψ

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Re: Introducing a scientific child prodigy
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2007, 08:49:52 PM »
I agree that you should encourage your child. I agree that you don't want your child to be bored at school. You just have to be careful that there is a balance. Working way ahead of other children his age may negatively effect social development, as will interacting too much with adults rather than other children. Some children may academically operate ahead of their class but this does not mean that physically they are ahead, mentally, or socially ahead.

Well said.  I couldn't agree more.

Offline Valentine Cawley

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Re: Introducing a scientific child prodigy
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2007, 09:46:53 PM »
Hi to both of you.

Your comments have a certain validity on the social issue: social development takes a whole lot more time and experience than intellectual development does. That means that one may be intellectually advanced, but social development cannot really be advanced - it grows over the years.

The issue is more complex than it may appear and one has less choice in the matter than might be supposed. You see, Ainan, my son, learns science rapidly and is already well into what would be termed degree material in the US - yet he is only seven years and two months old. He needs to keep moving forward otherwise he gets bored standing still. At this rate of progress it will, indeed, be only the handful of years I referred to, before he is a working scientist - if he can overcome the social challenge of being a child scientist in an adult world.

He shows significant scientific creativity in the way he thinks and is not just a kid who learns well. Given this, I have no doubt that he could be a very young scientist if he persists in his interest and continues to develop as he is.

Thanks for your comments - and implicit concern.

No, he isn't a registered member of the forum yet: I thought I would test out the nature of the place first, before introducing him. Cheers.

Offline akukla

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Re: Introducing a scientific child prodigy
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2007, 09:54:01 PM »
I agree that you should encourage your child. I agree that you don't want your child to be bored at school. You just have to be careful that there is a balance. Working way ahead of other children his age may negatively effect social development, as will interacting too much with adults rather than other children. Some children may academically operate ahead of their class but this does not mean that physically they are ahead, mentally, or socially ahead.

Well said.  I couldn't agree more.

Ditto on that.

Offline Mitch

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Re: Introducing a scientific child prodigy
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2007, 09:56:51 PM »
One of the not cool things about science and research is the politics of science. Unfortunately, it isn't enough to be really smart and committed to science. You have to have good social skills in order to deal with a moody professor or a jealous graduate student. The only similar story I know of, is a 16 year old was working at the Berkeley lab and after 2.5 years into his PhD his professor lost funding and started calling him an idiot and other harsh things for not working hard/fast enough. It would be hard enough for a graduate student to take that kind of abuse, but it crushed that 16 year old. He is doing fine now, but he completely left the Physics field and is now doing a Biology thesis. That is the only scenario of a prodigy that I know of, but I guess it has a happy ending so far. Aside from this guy being ridiculously antisocial and generally awkward although he is really nice.

In life, sometimes you just have to be mean in order to not get used by other people, and that is something that one really only learns with age.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2007, 10:02:15 PM by Mitch »
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Offline Valentine Cawley

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Re: Introducing a scientific child prodigy
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2007, 11:39:24 PM »
Thanks Mitch for your insight. I will have to try my best to prepare him for things like that. Perhaps if I scout ahead, as it were, I might be able to find a place where he will be accepted relatively warmly and allowed to work in peace. He loves nothing better than to occupy himself with scientific matters.

Ainan is not antisocial, though he is introverted: he has friends and is likeable and well liked in his school, so socially he is not doing too badly at all. He just had a birthday party with about 20 friends, which was good to see. It is notable however that he prefers to socialize with kids who are rather older than himself (though all who attended his party were in his age range).

The biggest issue we are dealing with is the inappropriateness of his education: Singapore have never had a prodigy like Ainan before - and so they don't have any experience with how to best help him. I am trying to show them way.

Offline mike

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Re: Introducing a scientific child prodigy
« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2007, 12:52:46 AM »
Why not move to Australia? The education system here is very good.

By the way, if he is as good as you say he is why not let him sign up and he can help me answer some of these chemistry questions. :)

By the way, where did you work as a physicist? and what did you do? Also what did you act in that was world famous? Are you famous? :)
« Last Edit: February 01, 2007, 01:14:59 AM by mike »
There is no science without fancy, and no art without facts.

Offline Valentine Cawley

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Re: Introducing a scientific child prodigy
« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2007, 02:31:40 AM »
I would be interested to learn of the Australian University system...how do the courses work? What is the standard, compared to other systems? Do they take young children onto their courses? What sort of price range are they? Any details would be of interest. How is their chemistry? Do they have courses that would allow mixing chemistry with material science or nanoscience?

As for me: I worked as a physicist at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington Middx. UK. It is a government lab. I signed the Official Secrets Act on joining so I am not sure how much I can say about the research I did there.

As for fame: that depends what you mean by fame. Some of my work - a piece of performance art - was global news in the 90s, appearing on CNN and NBC and carried on Reuters, as well as many other media outlets. The claimed audience for CNN alone, at the time, was 120 million people in 210 countries and territories. So, it would be fair to say that hundreds of millions of people have heard of my work, at some time or other. My acting work has been more local in effect mainly TV, stage and the odd film. This includes about a dozen south-east asian tv productions: I don't know where they have been distributed.

Ainan is just as I say he is. I just want to make sure that he has the right opportunities to grow.

Offline lemonoman

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Re: Introducing a scientific child prodigy
« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2007, 03:15:15 AM »
I can't help but put my two cents in now too.

There's a fine line between encouraging a child and pushing it...and I just want to make sure everyone gets that.  If the child WANTS to learn all it can about chemistry, then so be it.  If the child never sets down his chemistry book, because he/she WANTS to keep reading, then let the child do so.

But if the child says, "That's enough for today" and the parents say, "One more page", in my opinion that's crossing the line.

Far be it from me to compare your child with myself, but that's exactly what I'm going to do :P.  Ignore the picture of me at left.  I skipped Grade 2, and since then have been 1 year younger than everyone in my classes.  I did very well in school.  Here I am, 3 months before graduating with my B.Sc. (Chem) and I'm going to directly enter a Ph.D. program in September.

But the past year and a bit, I've changed.  It's not about the chemistry anymore.  It's about life.  I'm never going to be truly happy unless my life is well-rounded - friends, family, career, all that stuff.  I've figured it out now, and I'm on my way to the life I want to live.

I just fear that if your child finds this out later in life...and chemistry is, basically, the only thing he knows...he'll never enjoy life the way he wants to.

Offline Valentine Cawley

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Re: Introducing a scientific child prodigy
« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2007, 03:48:26 AM »
I appreciate the issues you have raised. It is a real responsibility to ensure that he gets a rounded education in life itself, as well as a rounded education. However, set against that, is the undeniable fact that he is very interested in science - it is something he looks to every day of his life and has done for a few years, in one way or another.

I cannot tell what he will be. I don't know what twists and turns lie ahead for him in life - but I do know that, at present, he has a strong desire to learn more of the physical sciences. Perhaps he will turn to wine, women and song when he hits his teens: if so, so be it - but I can only help with where he is now.

Good luck with your PhD.

Offline Ψ×Ψ

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Re: Introducing a scientific child prodigy
« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2007, 09:56:42 AM »
This is random...
I skipped Grade 2, and since then have been 1 year younger than everyone in my classes.
...but so did I!  Same grade, too!  :)

Offline Valentine Cawley

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Re: Introducing a scientific child prodigy
« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2007, 10:01:31 AM »
By the way, what are scooby snacks - apart from a reference to a cartoon I enjoyed as a kid? How does that work and what does it mean?

Thanks in advance for your answer.

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