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    #78655 - 06/21/10 12:40 PM Re: Proposal: NASA Academy of the Physical Sciences [Re: ]
    Clay Offline

    Registered: 04/11/10
    Posts: 123
    Loc: GA (for now)
    First, many of those 747 (or, 799, at last count) views are going to be people who are following this thread. I myself probably account for ~ 10 of those views. So, it’s not that 747 people looked at the thread and only 49 went to your blog… It might be something closer to 40 out of 100, which, if you have any experience with “click through” rates, you should know is pretty phenomenal. Also, you must consider that some people – like me – have been waiting for your feedback regarding exactly what you were hoping we would do before we posted.

    Second, you must realize that – as important as your proposal may be -- you are asking for a lot. You can probably safely assume that most of us either work or are stay at home parents, or both. Right now, I am PAYING someone to look after my child while I look through your proposal and write this post. Every moment, I am doubting my sanity, as I have a half-dozen other things that I should be doing. So, please do not take it personally that people are not responding at the rate you would like. I am quite concerned about the human trafficking that is occurring in my area, the general disappearance of bees, the sex-changing amount of female hormones in our water, sweat shops, rampant consumerism, etc., etc., etc. and I don’t pay as much attention to any of those as I would like.

    Finally, regarding your multiple requests that people read the whole thing before responding: this is a great example of that maddening political process you want your young scholars to experience. I assure you that when you submit your unrequested proposal to the power that be, if you are lucky, it will FIRST get a cursory glance. If the reader seems something worth-while in that glance, the reader will THEN start skimming from the beginning. During that skim, one of two things will happen: either the reader likes what s/he is seeing, and will start reading in earnest, or s/he doesn’t, in which case the reading will stop and you MIGHT get a courteous standard-issue “thanks, but no thanks.” So, adjusting for the time issue that your current readers on this board are faced with, if I were you, I would be asking what I could do to make the proposal more readable, not what I could say to make people actually read it –because that’s just not how it works. Further, you CANNOT expect people to withhold judgment until they read the whole thing. Not going to happen with us, and not going to happen with funders. At best you can hope that judgment will be adapted as the reading continues.

    Now, for specifics:

    “…proposal attempts to help prepare future generations of scientists…” – You have a couple of hedges here – “attempts” and “help”. Be less modest, if not less accurate. “…proposal creates an avenue to prepare future generations…”, for instance.

    The lack of biology was a major stumbling block for me. I agree that chemistry and physics are the basis for biology, but I also recognize that for many people, biology is the gateway to those other sciences. You allow people to study bio, and soon enough, they’ll be asking questions that require biochemistry or biomechanics, etc., etc., and then they are hooked. Biology is the first love of many of the smartest and hardest working people I know. Further, I think that an interdisciplinary biology approach is needed to answer some of the most pressing questions we face now, and will have to face in the future – issues about crop responses to changes in atmospheric gases, temperature, etc; epidemiology and bioterrorism; genetic engineering; biofuels, etc; etc. etc. I *think* that including biology would make this proposal more palatable to more people. Or at the very least, eliminating the phrase “Though NAPS does not provide any instruction in biology”

    There is something tidy and logical about your distribution of academies, yet it doesn’t really work for me. I can’t quite bring myself to believe that 150 students should be chosen from both Texas and Vermont. Wouldn’t something proportional be more adequate? For some sparsely populated states, having only one or two academies would make them more successful than having three. Probably legally states need to be given some leeway in how the program is set up (at any rate, the states can always turn down federal funding) – you should consider adding some flexibility to this portion of the proposal.

    Regarding the first model, it occurs to me that you should probably write this proposal as a pilot study. START off with Oregon, and explain how the idea is to ultimately scale up. (I know you are doing this, but not in the right order: you are saying, here is the entire idea, and we’ll do a test run, whereas in the granting world, it is typical to propose a feasibility study first; then once there is data, propose the scaling up). It is also easier for people to take you seriously and be able to accommodate your request when you are asking for less than a million/year off the bat.

    Also, it occurs to me that UO might not be the best place to do a pilot/feasibility study, because it has the relatively rare trimester system. It might be easier to justify scaling up from a study carried out using the more common semester schedule.

    “Legally maintaining the status of “high school student” until graduation is important because that status is what qualifies students for significant scholarships to colleges and universities.” Now this part, I really don’t get -- nor did I get why your daughter graduated high school with 100 credits (impressive though it may be). I never graduated high school; got through 10th grade, then enrolled full-time in college. And, yes, with "significant scholarships". A good proposal does its homework – I want to know what other options these highly talented students have, why those options aren’t sufficient, and why this option is better – or at least, why this option should be added to the mix. I strongly urge you to add a section somewhere that addresses these issues. (Yes, you discuss how NAPS compares to DuckLink, but that is only relevant to one state).

    “The lesser academic schedule during the senior year affords time and energy for three things: 1) to fully consider college/university opportunities and make scholarship applications, 2) to work on a UO science research team, and/or 3) to enter national mathematics and science competitions.” To me, this is key. You should consider providing opportunities to do this sooner, and/or think about how summer experiences could be weaved into the NAPS curriculum or at least supported by it.

    “Without exception, the only UO courses to be taken by NASA Scholars will be those mentioned above. All other coursework will be “high school” classes within the exclusive confines of NAPS to fulfill state high school graduation requirements.” – Again, why?

    You give a VERY detailed schedule of how things would work in UO. Could you explicitly state in the proposal how you see this relating to other schools in other states. Would every school follow basically the same path, or would they be allowed to do what they think makes sense for them. (Again, since states have the ability to not participate, I would choose the latter).

    I am sure there are more things to comment on, but there is only so much digesting of proposals I can do in one day.

    Hope this helps…

    #78662 - 06/21/10 03:46 PM Re: Proposal: NASA Academy of the Physical Sciences [Re: Clay]

    Clay, thank you.

    I will start my response now, but I will certainly finish it later in a second or third reply.

    I am happy that you are involved in many other concerns. So am I. Google "Steven A. Sylwester" — and also consider the many topics at the following links to my several blogs:

    None of the above should derail the task at hand, which is to first improve the "NASA Academy of the Physical Sciences" proposal, and to then make it happen.

    Clay, I appreciate your willingness to get involved, and I welcome your criticism. Let me start by making something very clear: my presentation of my idea is my presentation of my idea. It has been plain to me for a long time that others might have to significantly rework the presentation according to "The Rules of Order" for such things if I ever want my idea to be actually implemented someday. In other words, "my idea" will have to become "our idea" for a working group that can be of one mind about it. I have provided a solid starting point, but others might have to do the finish work.

    However, having opened the door that wide, I still stand guard over certain elements of the idea that must remain intact in my opinion. The biology question is one of those elements.

    Very deliberately, I changed the name of the school to "NASA Academy of the Physical Sciences" to quiet that question. As you know, biology is a life science, not a physical science.

    Know this: Advanced Placement Biology is a worthless course to those who would be NASA Scholars. The average NASA Scholar is not just bright; he/she is functioning at or very near a genius level. Teach such a young person AP Chemistry, university-level calculus-based Physics, and mathematics through university-level Calculus, and that young person will be able to pass the national AP Biology test with a very minimal effort, and I am not exaggerating to describe that "minimal effort" as nothing more than a week-long crash course.

    The First Rule is this: Do NOT waste the time of a NASA Scholar with anything that is a waste of time. High school biology is a waste of time — a complete and utter waste of time!

    My NAPS curriculum decisions were made through a deep consideration of the prerequisite streams found in the University of Oregon Course Catalog. Concerning the biology question, consider the following excerpts:

    Major Requirements

    A major in biology or marine biology leads to a bachelor of science (B.S.) or to a bachelor of arts (B.A.) degree. The B.A. requires completion of the foreign-language requirement. Twenty-four credits of biology that are applied to the major must be taken at the University of Oregon (which includes the main campus, the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology in Charleston, the central Oregon campus in Bend, and university-approved overseas and exchange programs). Majors must either meet the major requirements in effect at the time they are accepted as majors or complete subsequent major requirements. Specific courses follow.

    1. General Chemistry (CH 221, 222, 223) or Honors General Chemistry (CH 224H, 225H, 226H)

    2. General Chemistry Laboratory (CH 227, 228, 229) or Advanced General Chemistry Laboratory (CH 237, 238, 239)

    3. Mathematics, to include Calculus for the Biological Sciences I,II (MATH 246, 247) or Calculus I,II (MATH 251, 252) or equivalent; a course in statistics is recommended

    4. General Physics (PHYS 201, 202, 203) or Foundations of Physics I (PHYS 251, 252, 253)

    5. One of the introductory sequences: the four-term general biology sequence (BI 211–214) or the three-term foundations sequence (BI 251–253)

    6. Organic chemistry sequence

    a. For the biology major, a minimum of two organic chemistry courses are required: Organic Chemistry I (CH 331) and either Organic Chemistry II (CH 335) (preferred) or Organic Chemistry III (CH 336)

    b. For students interested in graduate programs in medicine, dentistry, biomedicine, or allied health, three organic chemistry courses and two laboratories are required (CH 331, 335, 336, 337, 338). Since many medical schools require upper-division genetics and/or biochemistry, Molecular Genetics (BI 320), Physiological Biochemistry (CH 360), or both are suggested. Students are urged to contact specific institutions to confirm admission requirements
    Major in Biology

    The major in biology requires a minimum of 44 upper-division biology credits with the following restrictions:

    1. At least one 300-level course in each of the three areas—cellular-molecular, systematics-organisms, and ecology-evolution

    2. At least 12 credits in courses with a BI subject code, numbered 420 to 499

    3. At least two courses at the 300 or 400 level with significant laboratory or fieldwork

    Preprofessional Students

    Preprofessional health science students who want to major in biology need to plan carefully to complete major requirements and meet entrance requirements of professional schools. These students should consult a biology adviser as well as the adviser for the professional area of their choice. See Preparatory Programs in the Academic Resources section of this catalog for more information about these requirements.

    Although Organic Chemistry Laboratory (CH 337, 338) and Introductory Physics Laboratory (PHYS 204, 205, 206) are not required for the biology major, they are required for programs at most professional schools, including many programs at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland.

    251 Foundations I: Biochemistry and Cell Physiology (5) Focuses on the cellular structures and chemical reactions that allow cells to grow, to transform energy, and to communicate. Lectures, laboratories. Prereq: CH 223 or 226H.

    252 Foundations II: Genetics and Molecular Biology (5) How living organisms store, replicate, and transmit their genetic information, and how this information directs the activities of the cell and organism. Lectures, laboratories. Prereq: C– or better or P in BI 251.

    253 Foundations III: Evolution and Biodiversity (5) Genetic basis and ecological context of evolutionary change leading to an examination of the generation and major patterns of biodiversity. Lectures, laboratories. Prereq: C– or better or P in BI 252.

    * * *

    If you read the above UO Course Catalog excerpts carefully, you will realize that a NASA Scholar who is interested in eventually majoring in biology at the university level will end up taking the Biology Foundations I, II, III sequence (BI 251, 252, 253) if he/she becomes an undergraduate at the University of Oregon, and that that Biology Foundations sequence does NOT have a biology prerequisite, but does have a third term General Chemistry (CH 223) prerequisite, which is a level of chemistry that all NASA Scholars will complete before graduating from NAPS. Consequently, a NAPS graduate will be able to enroll in the Biology Foundations sequence (or its equivalent elsewhere) as a university freshman, which is fully one year ahead of the normal schedule — and without ever having taken high school biology!

    That is efficient. That is smart. And that will end up saving time and money without sacrificing any learning at all. In fact, I would bet that a NAPS graduate would be better prepared for the Biology Foundations sequence course than any and all other students, including those students who took two years of Biology during high school.

    Steven A. Sylwester

    #78670 - 06/21/10 06:39 PM Re: Proposal: NASA Academy of the Physical Sciences [Re: ]
    Clay Offline

    Registered: 04/11/10
    Posts: 123
    Loc: GA (for now)
    I mentioned some interests of mine (some of which I only wish I was "involved in", but cannot currently claim to be) just to point out that we do not all have the time to do all the things we wish we could, including commenting at length on your proposal.

    I will agree with you that high school level, and, heck, even some graduate level biology (depending on one's concentration) is "easy" -- that doesn't make the study of biology any less enjoyable or interesting -- or, ultimately, important. I see a NAPS scholar as a lover of learning, a person who is curious about the way things work, and that, I would imagine, includes living things. So, don't teach high school bio. I don't care. But why not have a college-level bio track, so when they become college freshmen (though, again, I wonder why there isn't just an early admission option, maybe with some special programming for the "young scholar" cohort?), they can take upper-level bio courses, or realize they're really going to have to major in chemistry to achieve their goals, or what have you?

    As to your point regarding efficiency, it's an inefficient process if it doesn't appeal to students that are smart enough to excel in the program. I would not consider anything a "complete and utter waste of time" that keeps brilliant students motivated and engaged.

    Have you discussed this your proposal with any TAG students? I wonder, for instance, if your target enrollment of 37% is reasonable (Also, I note that . I'm just thinking about the distribution of student course enrollments in programs like CTY or Simon's Rock, which, I imagine, would be a similar pool from which you would draw your NAPS scholars. At any rate, I would seek TAG input on this, if you haven't already. Doubtless, smart teens could provide valuable feedback regarding several aspects of your proposal.

    Regarding your comment about calling it the Academy of *Physical Sciences*... math and computer science are not physical science, but they are core parts of the NAPS program. Geology and meteorology are physical sciences, but they are not mentioned in the proposal. So, clearly, there is a bit of wiggle room...

    Some other thoughts:
    (Forgive me if you have covered any of this in your proposal already. I HAVE read the entire thing more than once and I have looked specifically for the elements I am asking about. If I mention something that you have already discussed, then you might consider adding more information to it, creating a subheading, putting it in another section, or some other strategy to make the information more obvious).
    -- Is there any criteria for the high school teachers? Ie, do they need a gifted ed background?
    -- What is the selection/admission criteria for NAPS? What, exactly, does "acceptable range" mean -- top 5%? top 1%? (Here again, I am concerned about having, for example, 150 students from Vermont and 150 from Texas. It seems that different states might end up having very different de facto admissions criteria or levels of competitiveness.)
    -- It'd be nice (expected?) if you have a separate section with a budget and budget justification. How much goes to teacher salary, to professor salary? What amount goes to local overhead (ie, the fact that local schools are providing rooms, electricity, IT support, etc., etc.)? And how about NASA's administrative costs? Advertising? Teacher training?
    -- I'm used to seeing goals, objectives, and outcomes in grant proposals. At the very least an evaluation section. How does one determine that this program has been a success? By the completion rate of the NAPS program? (In that vein, what are the requirements for continued participation in the program?) By the number of NAPS graduates that go into STEM programs? Or that graduate from college? Or that obtain graduate degrees?

    Again, hope this helps...

    #78678 - 06/21/10 08:12 PM Re: Proposal: NASA Academy of the Physical Sciences [Re: Clay]
    Val Offline

    Registered: 09/01/07
    Posts: 3296
    Loc: California
    Hi Steven,

    I skimmed through your proposal and have a couple comments. I don't have time to read the whole thing (nor am I obligated to), but I've reviewed a lot grant applications in this field, and here are some things that that struck me immediately about your application:

    1. I'm confused about the name. Are you affiliated with NASA? Is NASA involved in this idea? If not, you'll need to pull NASA out of the title of the academy. If your idea has a formal buy-in from NASA, you need to say so, up front. No way can you use NASA's name without formal buy-in from them.

    For example, NASA participation your title could be inferred as meaning that program graduates will have a formal connection to NASA that may not exist. Ouch!

    2. Your overview lacks focus. An overview needs to get to the point, and fast. Specifics:

    * Get rid of the quotes; they're distracting.

    * State the problem succinctly, and then state your solution succinctly. A reviewer needs to know exactly what you want to do and how you're going to do it. You also need to show how you'll measure success or failure at various steps along the way.

    * Clay is right about running a pilot project first. It's extremely unlikely (really, impossible) that you'd be given funds to start academies at 150 research universities without the existence of even one now.

    * Do you have letters of support from high-level people and department heads at the University of Oregon? If not, you need them. No buy-in from the university is a funding-killer. This alone could be a barrier to funding. You need to have all kinds of commitments from the university to make this project work.

    * The same need for letters applies to local high schools that will be involved. And NASA, if it's involved.

    3. You wrote:

    "NAPS will put an enormous academic and emotional strain on its NASA Scholars, especially during the junior year..."

    Okay, so why would I put my child through this? As a parent, I read this and think "Forget it; I don't want to kill my teenager's love of learning by piling too much pressure on him."

    Besides, how can people think creatively to solve problems when high stress is the norm? The answer is that they can't. Just because excessive work is common in this country doesn't make it a good idea.

    4. How will you recruit, specifically? How will you evaluate your program, specifically? etc.

    5. You obviously put a lot of thought into your courses; this is a strength. The entire application needs that same level of detailed thought.

    6. I haven't read the request for applications/RFA you're responding to, so I don't know how carefully you've addressed all the points it lays out. So I'll just make a general statement: you need to address everything in the RFA, specifically.

    7. I agree with Clay about the lack of biology being a weakness (unless you assume that we're the only planet in the universe that's ever been home to a living thing). NASA has huge efforts underway in biology. Why exclude this area? The physical sciences don't stand apart from biology. Plus, you exclude everyone who's interested in the subject right from the start, which narrows your pool of potential students.

    Originally Posted By: clay
    I will agree with you that high school level, and, heck, even some graduate level biology (depending on one's concentration) is "easy"...

    I'm going to disagree very strongly here. I guess it's possible to see Biology as being easy because biologists were once able to rely heavily on observation, and because introductory classes (unfortunately) focus so much on memorization. However, this approach once worked because we knew so little about the subject, rather than because it's easy. In other words, we were so ignorant, we had no choice about how to approach the subject.

    Humans have only scratched the surface of this field. In the last 50 years or so, we've finally gained knowledge and developed technologies that allow us to see how complex biology actually is.

    Biology is built on top of mathematics, physics, and chemistry. No one truly appreciated this idea even a hundred years ago. You need only start looking up questions in the field and this complexity rears up very quickly (Try, "What causes the sporadic form of Lou Gehrig's disease/ALS?").

    This is actually a huge argument for starting biology education when students are young.

    Just my 2c.


    #78690 - 06/22/10 12:32 AM Re: Proposal: NASA Academy of the Physical Sciences [Re: ]

    Originally Posted By: Clay

    There is something tidy and logical about your distribution of academies, yet it doesn’t really work for me. I can’t quite bring myself to believe that 150 students should be chosen from both Texas and Vermont. Wouldn’t something proportional be more adequate? For some sparsely populated states, having only one or two academies would make them more successful than having three. Probably legally states need to be given some leeway in how the program is set up (at any rate, the states can always turn down federal funding) – you should consider adding some flexibility to this portion of the proposal.

    Clay, it is called political expediency. And, yes, it is a bit ugly.

    However, there is a beauty to it, too. It is the difference between the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. One would think that the smaller states would especially champion the "NASA Academy of the Physical Sciences" idea, because those states would certainly receive a greater benefit in the beginning on a per capita basis.

    The proposal states:

    States with more than three public universities will select the three universities that: 1) have the largest population base within an established to-and-from daily commute using public mass transit, and 2) do federally funded research on topics associated with gifted learning. All site universities should propose and do research that will improve the NAPS academies over time while also maximizing the benefits that can be had by other schools. Grant money from both federal and private sources will support select research over time.

    Three states have fewer than three public universities each: Delaware (two), Rhode Island (two), and Wyoming (one). The four NAPS academies not established in those three states will be assigned to California, thereby giving California a total of seven NAPS academies.

    If any states choose not to participate in this initiative, those states will permanently forfeit their entitled NAPS academies to other states that desire more NAPS academies. The U.S. Secretary of Education will permanently reassign to other states any NAPS academies that are forfeited.

    * * *

    Why live with the "three NAPS per state" model?

    I offer the following two excerpts from the proposal as my reasons:

    This Obama Initiative will provide a special opportunity for 5,100 of the most gifted sophomores being educated in America’s public high schools every year. Including the juniors and seniors who continue in a NAPS until graduation, no more than 15,300 students will every year be the direct recipients of this opportunity, but millions of other high school students will every year receive indirect benefits that will improve their math and science education as a consequence of this initiative.

    Each state will every year spend 85% of its average per high school student per year expenditure for each of its NASA Scholars to fund its in-state NAPS academies, and the U.S. government will add $4,000 per student per year funding to each of the 150 NAPS academies nationwide for a total federal funding of $61.2 million per year. The states will be obligated to collect their 15% per student per year expenditure savings into a Science Education Fund that will be exhausted every year through the issuing of major grants to upgrade public high school science classrooms with new computer technology, new laboratory equipment, and/or general facility improvements. The grants will range in size from $20,000 to $50,000 each, and will be awarded by a three-person review committee comprised of one science professor from each of the three public research universities where the in-state NAPS academies are sited. If a state expends $8,500 per high school student per year, its SEF will collect and then spend out $390,150 per year, which could result in 19 grants of $20,534 each.

    After the awarding of SEF grants every year, the state governors will consider the merits of all unfunded grant requests for their individual state, and will forward all deserving requests to in-state private industry leaders for their consideration and possible patronage. Special corporate tax credits will be given to companies that fund SEF grant requests. If the SEF grant review committee recommends improvements to particular requests along with encouragement to request a grant the following year (for example, if the request was for equipment that is being made obsolete by new technology), those recommendations will remain attached to the unfunded requests that are forwarded to industry leaders. ...


    NAPS will put an enormous academic and emotional strain on its NASA Scholars, especially during the junior year. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that each and every scholar can relate in a genuine supportive way with his/her classmate scholars especially, but also with scholars from the other two grade levels and with the “high school” teachers. Because emotional maturity is not always on a par with intellectual maturity, gifted adolescents in the transition to adulthood need friends who can understand them. Gifted adolescents are adolescents at risk who are sometimes very vulnerable to social challenges, and they tend to know this about themselves. But, in usual settings, they are alone with their fears. NAPS academies will have the opportunity to create a safe haven in which truly extraordinary young people can experience what it feels like to be ordinary, at least during the while when they are among peer classmates; the importance of this cannot be overstated: a NAPS site will either succeed or fail in its primary purpose by whether or not it can succeed in making its scholars feel ordinary. ...

    * * *

    Simply, every state deserves a chance to benefit from the whole program, including the Science Education Fund grants that would be created. Furthermore, I cannot stress enough the importance of this excerpt from above:

    "All site universities should propose and do research that will improve the NAPS academies over time while also maximizing the benefits that can be had by other schools. Grant money from both federal and private sources will support select research over time."

    The research findings at the different universities could discover remarkable differences from state to state, even though all 150 NAPS sites nationwide would have exactly the same curriculum. I have lived in small town Nebraska and in small city Oregon, and I have visited in major cities on both coasts and in the Midwest. It would not surprise me if remarkable differences in learning were discovered from place to place, but I cannot even imagine what they might be. The three sites in Oregon would likely be Eugene (University of Oregon), Corvallis (Oregon State University), and Portland (Portland State University) — and those are three very different settings in very different community environments. But, again, the NAPS curriculum would be exactly the same at each site.

    Finally, the young geniuses in America need to be found, wherever they are, and they need to be treated with the dignity they deserve. NAPS should not be a California, Texas, and New York thing. Rather, it should be nationwide with a plain equality from state to state. Certainly, if NAPS is successful, I think it might eventually have an active site at every public research university in the United States. That is a big dream, but why not?

    Steven A. Sylwester

    #78691 - 06/22/10 01:42 AM Re: Proposal: NASA Academy of the Physical Science [Re: ]

    Again, I am a committee of one.

    NAPS is built squarely on KISS >> Keep It Simple Stupid.

    No public research university would want NAPS on campus unless NAPS was essentially invisible and no problem. A university will not fit to NAPS, so NAPS must fit to the university. This is a key understanding regarding the entirety of my idea.

    Lower level biology classes are full at public research universities. A university will be significantly disinclined toward NAPS if NAPS requires additional course sections to be scheduled. For NAPS to succeed, it has to be small and parasitic, and go unnoticed as a liability when university budgets are being considered.

    Furthermore, NAPS will only succeed if it is largely a shared experience for NASA Scholars, which means that a focussed limited curriculum is essential.

    My proposed NAPS "shared experience" is this:

    Required Courses:
    AP Chemistry with University Laboratory class
    AP English Language
    AP United States History
    AP English Literature
    AP Microeconomics or AP Macroeconomics

    Mathematics through University Calculus I, II, III
    University Computer Science I,II, III
    University Calculus-based Physics: Foundations of Physics I


    Specializations beyond the universally "shared experience" are available in mathematics, physics, and chemistry, and allow for one year of university instruction beyond the above mentioned levels in physics and in chemistry, and two years beyond in mathematics.

    That is as simple as it gets.

    What would you exclude to include biology? But, again, the biology sections are all full.

    Know this: A university biology major is not required to take Calculus III, calculus-based physics, or Computer Science I,II, III, all of which are required by NAPS. I contend that the best scientists of the future — including the biologists — need to know mathematics through calculus, calculus-based physics, and the basics of computer science. Do you disagree?

    Steven A. Sylwester

    Edited by StevenASylwester (06/22/10 01:26 PM)

    #78715 - 06/22/10 09:19 AM Re: Proposal: NASA Academy of the Physical Sciences [Re: ]
    Val Offline

    Registered: 09/01/07
    Posts: 3296
    Loc: California
    Hmm. Well, I get the impression that you're mostly looking for feedback that you agree with. I worked pretty hard on the message I sent and everything seems to have been ignored. Why would I bother continuing? <eom>

    #78726 - 06/22/10 10:29 AM Re: Proposal: NASA Academy of the Physical Sciences [Re: ]
    inky Offline

    Registered: 10/10/08
    Posts: 1299
    Originally Posted By: StevenASylwester
    What would you exclude to include biology?

    Instead of having two separate courses on microeconoics and macroeconics, I'd have one course on economics in order to include biology. The fact that lower level university biology classes are full doesn't seem to justify excluding it from the curriculum.

    To go along with the recommendations to run a pilot project first, you might look at setting up a charter school. Looks like there are a number of different models in Oregon:

    Val has the impression that you're mostly looking for feedback that you agree with which made me think of the 15 rules of engineering design, specifically #8:
    Recognize that while emotion is a fundamental
    driving force in human behavior, emotion
    must not select alternatives. Emotional
    commitment is vital for any human being to
    commit fully to a task, but it must be set aside
    when making design decisions. A good design
    engineer must be free of emotional
    “hang-ups” that inhibit making use of all information
    available, calmly sorting through
    the pros and cons of each approach before
    recommending a solution, and being willing
    to accept someone else’s idea when objective
    analysis shows it to be superior.
    These seem to fit for engineering a school design too. smile

    #78741 - 06/22/10 12:34 PM Re: Proposal: NASA Academy of the Physical Sciences [Re: Val]


    For you, I will start by being somewhat philosophical, because that might just drive you crazy. Do I want you to leave? No. But I do want you to set aside your usual thinking — only just for a while.

    Sometimes I think people should introduce themselves by naming their two favorite (read: most appropriate to their own being) Bob Dylan songs. Why two? Because naming just one song leaves too much mystery intact. Naming the second song provides just enough juxtaposition to let sunlight into a very deep place that is usually hidden from the outside world. That "very deep place" is not necessarily dark and foreboding, but it is hidden in a world that has its own light, a world where sunlight is not necessary because the relationships that exist there are just these two: the one with one's own self, and the one between one's own self and God.

    My two favorite Bob Dylan songs are "Love Minus Zero/No Limit" and "Shelter From The Storm," and the lyrics are:

    Love Minus Zero/No Limit

    My love she speaks like silence
    Without ideals or violence
    She doesn’t have to say she’s faithful
    Yet she’s true, like ice, like fire
    People carry roses
    Make promises by the hours
    My love she laughs like the flowers
    Valentines can’t buy her

    In the dime stores and bus stations
    People talk of situations
    Read books, repeat quotations
    Draw conclusions on the wall
    Some speak of the future
    My love she speaks softly
    She knows there’s no success like failure
    And that failure’s no success at all

    The cloak and dagger dangles
    Madams light the candles
    In ceremonies of the horsemen
    Even the pawn must hold a grudge
    Statues made of matchsticks
    Crumble into one another
    My love winks, she does not bother
    She knows too much to argue or to judge

    The bridge at midnight trembles
    The country doctor rambles
    Bankers’ nieces seek perfection
    Expecting all the gifts that wise men bring
    The wind howls like a hammer
    The night blows cold and rainy
    My love she’s like some raven
    At my window with a broken wing

    Shelter From The Storm

    ’Twas in another lifetime, one of toil and blood
    When blackness was a virtue and the road was full of mud
    I came in from the wilderness, a creature void of form
    “Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”

    And if I pass this way again, you can rest assured
    I’ll always do my best for her, on that I give my word
    In a world of steel-eyed death, and men who are fighting to be warm
    “Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”

    Not a word was spoke between us, there was little risk involved
    Everything up to that point had been left unresolved
    Try imagining a place where it’s always safe and warm
    “Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”

    I was burned out from exhaustion, buried in the hail
    Poisoned in the bushes an’ blown out on the trail
    Hunted like a crocodile, ravaged in the corn
    “Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”

    Suddenly I turned around and she was standin’ there
    With silver bracelets on her wrists and flowers in her hair
    She walked up to me so gracefully and took my crown of thorns
    “Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”

    Now there’s a wall between us, somethin’ there’s been lost
    I took too much for granted, got my signals crossed
    Just to think that it all began on a long-forgotten morn
    “Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”

    Well, the deputy walks on hard nails and the preacher rides a mount
    But nothing really matters much, it’s doom alone that counts
    And the one-eyed undertaker, he blows a futile horn
    “Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”

    I’ve heard newborn babies wailin’ like a mournin’ dove
    And old men with broken teeth stranded without love
    Do I understand your question, man, is it hopeless and forlorn?
    “Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”

    In a little hilltop village, they gambled for my clothes
    I bargained for salvation an’ they gave me a lethal dose
    I offered up my innocence and got repaid with scorn
    “Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”

    Well, I’m livin’ in a foreign country but I’m bound to cross the line
    Beauty walks a razor’s edge, someday I’ll make it mine
    If I could only turn back the clock to when God and her were born
    “Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”

    * * *

    Val, if you knew me, you would say "Of course" time and time again while you consider the details of my "NASA Academy of the Physical Sciences" proposal, especially if you first pondered deeply the Dylan lyric: "Beauty walks a razor’s edge, someday I’ll make it mine." NAPS is an artwork — a thing of beauty that was created through me. Yes, I did it by myself, but I am familiar enough with the creative process to know that I am nothing but a channel for a Creative Force that far exceeds me, and that my doing is mostly just getting out of the way. We are given the rich and complicated substance of our own lives, and our challenge is to reach some personal understanding about that substance, and to then make our substance useful for others — to share the blessing.

    For NAPS to finally become a thing of utility in addition to being a thing of beauty, I know others will have to be involved. Yes, to some significant extent, those "others" will be people who see the beauty of NAPS. Those who think NAPS is wrong-headed for whatever reasons should not involve themselves, because they will only become more and more frustrated. NAPS is what it is.

    Val, regarding your stated concerns:

    #1: I have no agreements and no understandings with NASA — none whatsoever. NAPS is an idea — a proposal. Regarding NASA, read the following excerpts from my proposal:

    I have renamed the academy NASA Academy of the Physical Sciences (NAPS) for five reasons:
    1. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is a United States government agency with an annual budget exceeding $17 billion. The annual federal funding projected for NAPS in the following document is $61.2 million, which is an amount that could easily hide inside the NASA budget without causing alarm.
    2. NASA already has developed resources that effectively lobby the U.S. government for ongoing and increased funding as needed. Those resources include NASA's Education Coordinating Committee (ECC), which is chaired by Dr. Joyce Leavitt Winterton, NASA's Assistant Administrator for Education.
    3. NASA has an ongoing need to develop homegrown mathematicians, scientists, and engineers, so taking ownership of NAPS would certainly be in NASA's self-interest.
    4. The dream of being involved in space exploration is a common dream among many young people who are gifted in mathematics and the sciences. The opportunity to become a NASA Scholar in my proposed NAPS program would inspire many young people to focus their studies in mathematics and the sciences from a young age, and to work hard at excelling academically.
    5. If NASA actually managed NAPS, it could create summer internship opportunities for NASA Scholars between their junior and senior years in high school. Being a summer intern at NASA would certainly inspire many NASA Scholars to pursue NASA careers. Consequently, NASA could recruit select NASA Scholars right out of high school, and thereby influence if not outright direct the higher education choices of those recruits.


    Paying for the NASA Academy of the Physical Sciences (NAPS) program I have proposed must be done with serious consideration given to three realities that stand in direct opposition to each other: 1) the academic needs of Talented and Gifted (TAG) students who excel in mathematics and the sciences are generally not acknowledged by U.S. taxpayers, because the general sentiment is that “smart” kids can get by in our public schools without any additional funding for merit-based programs that might result in educational advantages for the top-end few; 2) the U.S. is falling behind in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) expertise when compared to the rest of the world, especially in public schools classroom learning as measured by standardized tests; and 3) U.S. industrial companies, military forces, and intelligence agencies, and the space exploration of NASA must depend on the talents of U.S. citizens who are tremendously skilled and highly educated in STEM, especially regarding top secret “classified” developments that pertain to national security and/or to national defense.

    Unfortunately, #1 trumps #2 and #3 in every case in which the outcome is dependent on a vote of the people. Americans are a people who will help the disadvantaged up to mediocre standing while simultaneously dragging the advantaged down to mediocre standing, even when doing the latter is not in their long term self-interest. That strange and peculiar trait seems to battle strongly against anything that smacks of stratified learning tracks, especially if there is a high-end fast track that in any way glorifies those whose talents and skills are not expressed in athletic competitions. In all of this, we are a stupid people, and we can no longer afford that stupidity — even if it means becoming un-American by saying “Yes” to an intellectual meritocracy that we collectively nurture starting no later than the seventh grade.

    Establishing NAPS nationwide is a starting point that must be accomplished by whatever means necessary. It appalls me that many who should support my proposal do not, and that they justify their lack of support most ungenerously: from patronizing notions that value the humanities over the sciences as a supposed matter-of-fact, through scary statements that high school’s overriding purpose is forced socialization to the norm, to depressing pronouncements that “smart” kids do not need — nor do they deserve — special considerations of any sort. If it is left to the masses, NAPS will never happen. So the implementation strategy must go stealth regarding funding, and live by the crazy truth that a nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse; in other words, just do it!

    Do not go through local public school boards and public school district superintendents seeking support and approval. You will fail if you do so. Do not go through every state’s department of education hierarchy and every state’s legislature seeking support and approval. You will fail if you do so. Do not go through the U.S. Congress seeking support and approval. You will fail if you do so. The simple idea that is NAPS is too complicated for all except those who can see its beauty and its simplicity plainly at first sight. If you have to be convinced that NAPS is a good idea, you will never be convinced. Those who will not need convincing are these: the genius young people who score at the 99th percentile in mathematics and the sciences and who enjoy mathematics and the sciences, and the parents of those young people; Pentagon-based generals and admirals; the highest ranking personnel in the various U.S. intelligence agencies; and the highest ranking personnel at NASA.

    Going stealth is as simple as this: entirely federally fund and entirely oversight manage NAPS through the public auspices of NASA with behind-the-scenes shared funding and governance coming from both the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). According to my proposal, the federal funding portion of the NAPS program is $61.2 million per year. NASA’s budget for fiscal year 2009 is $17.6 billion. DoD’s budget for fiscal year 2010 is $533.8 billion. The National Intelligence Program (NIP) spent $49.8 billion in fiscal year 2009 according to official documents (Oct 30, 2009), though the DNI, Dennis Blair, recently stated publicly “we’re talking about the very important business of a blueprint to run this 200,000-person, $75 billion national enterprise in intelligence …” (Sep 15, 2009). Most of the official NIP budget is hidden in the DoD budget, though some of it hides elsewhere; the details of the NIP budget are top-secret “classified” information that exists outside of any public scrutiny. NASA, the DoD, and the DNI have considerable shared interests (for example, spy satellites), so the “contract” work certainly boosts NASA’s $17.6 billion cash flow, perhaps significantly.

    The point being this: $61.2 million split three ways between NASA, the DoD, and the sixteen U.S. government and military agencies that answer to the DNI make the NAPS annual federal budget of $61.2 million turn into invisible pocket change that no one will argue about because no one will be able to see it. That is going stealth, and that is a good thing in this case.

    The NAPS program implementation then becomes this simple: NASA selects the 150 public research universities it wants to work with, and offers its deal to them and the local public school districts that would be involved at each NAPS site. With the backing of the U.S. government, NASA creates a high school diploma for the NAPS program that would be universally accepted by American colleges and universities. Doing this would bypass any odd high school graduation requirements that might exist in some states. The public identity of the program would be this: NASA Academy of the Physical Sciences is a nationwide effort federally funded and managed by NASA to educate future generations of scientists and engineers to serve the national interests of the United States of America.

    Is there a downside to this paying scheme? No. Is there a trade-off? Yes.

    Because each of the 150 NAPS academies will likely draw its students from many different public school districts and each NAPS will therefore float outside the control and jurisdiction of just one school district, NASA should establish itself as the de facto public school district equivalent for the entire NAPS program, meaning: NASA should take complete operational control of the NAPS program, and should leave no local program design control of any sort to parent groups, school boards, school district administrators, or the NAPS host universities. To accomplish this, the NAPS “high school” teachers must be NASA employees, and the entire NAPS curriculum must be NASA-controlled.

    The NAPS curriculum I have proposed is simple and straightforward, and it is driven exclusively by the standard university prerequisite stream for mathematics and the physical sciences, which — when accomplished — fulfills the core math and science course requirements of any university-level laboratory science major (including the biology major). If anything, NASA might simplify my proposed curriculum in some way, though there is nothing to simplify that I can see. With few exceptions, NAPS will teach only select Advanced Placement courses (which are standardized nationwide) while living as a parasite on the standard undergraduate course offerings in mathematics and the physical sciences found at all public research universities in the U.S., and the subject matter and teaching of the university courses taken by NAPS students will not be tampered with or in any way controlled by NASA at all.

    Paranoid people will rightly observe that the U.S. government will have direct free access to NAPS student transcripts through NASA, and that includes access given to the DoD and the various NIP agencies if they partner in funding NAPS. This does not in any way bother me, but it might bother some. To those “some” who are bothered, my advice is simple: do not enroll your child in NAPS under any circumstance. NAPS is an extraordinary optional educational opportunity that will only be available to the very few who qualify. If NASA, the DoD, and the DNI partner in making NAPS happen, then they deserve the access to student transcripts that they will have.

    NAPS fulfills the government obligation to provide free public education through the twelfth grade for its students, but it in no way contractually obligates its graduates to ever work for the U.S. government in any capacity at all for any length of time. A NAPS graduate is entirely free to do whatever he/she wants to do with the rest of his/her life. That stated, it will certainly be the case that many NAPS graduates will be recruited by the U.S. government for employment and/or higher education opportunities that might have significant contractual obligations attached (for example, U.S. military academy appointments). But other private industry recruitments and also significant university scholarship offers will certainly come to many NAPS graduates. The plain fact of the matter is this: most NAPS graduates will be academically among “The Top One Percent” of all U.S. high school graduates in any given year; they will be in high demand by many, including the whole assortment of U.S. government agencies and departments.

    In the end, many NAPS graduates will maintain their dream to become NASA employees, and they will freely choose to follow NASA’s guidance in their higher education choices in their continuing effort to make that dream happen. If NASA adopts this proposal, it will certainly have the inside track on finding and developing the very best young minds in America to meet the agency's ongoing need to remain on the cutting edge of new space technologies. Many young geniuses are naturally drawn to the exciting work that NASA does, and NASA should invite those young geniuses into its fold by becoming the U.S. government agency that funds and manages the NAPS program.

    * * *

    Val, I will respond to your concerns #2 through #6 in later replies. My response to your concern #7 about biology has already been given in my Reply #78662 to Clay earlier in this thread, and also in my general Reply #78691 to both Clay and you.

    Steven A. Sylwester

    #78747 - 06/22/10 01:23 PM Re: Proposal: NASA Academy of the Physical Sciences [Re: ]

    Originally Posted By: inky
    Originally Posted By: StevenASylwester
    What would you exclude to include biology?

    Instead of having two separate courses on microeconoics and macroeconics, I'd have one course on economics in order to include biology. The fact that lower level university biology classes are full doesn't seem to justify excluding it from the curriculum.

    Inky, I chose Economics to be an Advanced Placement course. However, consider the current listing of recognized AP courses at:

    [SPAM]! No Economics. Just:

    That is either a recent break-apart change or is an oversight on my part. My proposal has Advanced Placement Economics in the Junior Year, which I describe by terms as:

    Fall Term Winter Term Spring Term
    NAPS: Advanced Placement English Literature
    NAPS: Advanced Placement Economics
    Fall: Microeconomics
    Winter: Macroeconomics
    Spring: Game Theory

    * * *

    Inky, AP courses are usually a school year long. I should not have stated both AP Microeconomics and AP Macroeconomics in Reply #78691 when I wanted to state AP Economics, which is a course that does not exist currently as an AP option. To correct myself, I should either/or AP Microeconomics and AP Macroeconomics in my reply.

    To add University Biology in the Junior Year is unthinkable. In my opinion, you cannot exclude AP Economics for University Biology, because AP Economics fulfills statewide high school graduation requirements in the humanities, which are standing requirements that cannot be overlooked in a NAPS curriculum.

    I chose AP Economics because it is a significantly math-based subject matter, and one of the basic purposes of NAPS is to develop mathematical thinking to the highest proficiency level possible.

    Again, AP Biology is a joke, and I know this from firsthand experience as the parent of two genius daughters, both of whom endured AP Biology during high school and both of whom scored "5" on the national test, which is the highest score possible. Do NOT insult NASA Scholars with AP Biology, not even as high school freshmen.

    Remember, there is a strict limit to the number of university credits that can be taken by a NASA scholar during any school term, and it is important to not exceed that limit because exceeding the limit creates a college student by legal definition.

    Steven A. Sylwester

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