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Pioneer Professor Continues Teaching While Earthquake Rattles His Chair in Southern California [July 9, 2019 ]

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Twin earthquakes rattle Southern California after nearly twenty years of quiet seismology activity. The first earthquake, a magnitude of 6.4, impacted rural California by Ridgecrest  on Thursday, July 4th whereas the second earthquake shook the greater Los Angeles region with a 7.1 magnitude the following day. No casualties were recorded.

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A Pioneer professor, located near L.A, was leading a group session on the U.S. macro-economy when the 7.1 earthquake struck.  As students were calculating the growth rate of GDP from the ’60’s to 2008, their Pioneer professor pauses and says, “Believe it or not, I’m sitting in an earthquake right now.” A silence encompasses the virtual classroom. In a somber voice, the professor states gravely, “And this is a pretty good one.”

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A student, still puzzled about logs, asks: “The earthquake or the data?” Giggles reverberate across the virtual classroom from Shanghai (China), Boston (MA, USA), Woolwich Township (NJ, USA), and Chengdu (China). A moment later, the Pioneer professor declares, “Wow, it seems to be over. Okay, I’m still alive.”

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According to MichiganTech’s UPSeis, the world experiences approximately a hundred 6.0-6.9 earthquakes any given year whereas twenty earthquakes of 7.0-7.9 magnitude are recorded annually.

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We would love to salute our professor who insisted on teaching throughout the earthquake!

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Announcing The Pioneer Academics 2018 Research Journal [March 15, 2019 ]

The Pioneer Research Program is respected as the world’s only online research program with US college credit for gifted teenagers. Today it announces the students whose papers were selected for publication in the 2018 Pioneer Research Journal! These papers were nominated by our faculty members and went through a rigorous faculty peer review evaluation process to be chosen for publication. The Journal is published each year to showcase the outstanding work of select young Pioneer scholars. It represents the highest level of original research studies conducted by teenagers.

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Each nominated paper was evaluated by the Pioneer Research Journal Committee, a panel of 36 distinguished professors from leading American undergraduate and graduate institutions, who determined which papers are to be included in the Journal. The research papers under consideration represent the top 20% of papers written in the Pioneer Research Program’s academic year of 2018.

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For many of the nominees, the paper represents an academic milestone as well as a personal one. Under the guidance of their Pioneer professors (all distinguished educators who teach at the cutting edge of research among the top 30 universities and liberal arts colleges in the United States), Pioneer scholars mastered critical research skills, and showcased the ability of education to transcend political, personal, and geographic, and socioeconomic boundaries.

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Abigail Romero, a senior from Walter G. O`Connell Copiague High School in New York, reflects on her Pioneer experience: “Coming into the Pioneer Academics Research Program, I already trusted Pioneer as an incredibly rich resource that I can achieve in. And that was because I really see Pioneer as an exemplar of scholarship and the amazing innovation that can take place once dedicated students can be matched up with dedicated professors who are invested in helping younger students aim high and to produce such a capstone research project at an undergraduate level.” Abigail is one among twenty-five students who were published in The Journal this year.

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This year, 24 students were published in The Pioneer Academics Research Journal. In previous years, about the top 6% of Pioneer papers were published whereas this year has reached a historic high: the top 4.6% of Pioneer research papers were published. The breakdown is as follows: 38% STEM papers, 30% humanities papers, 16% social sciences papers, and 16% pre-professional papers (Business and Education in this case). Works by students from six different countries were published: 9 papers are from Chinese students (39%), 10 from the USA (41%), 2 from Turkey (8%), and 1 from India, New Zealand, and Tunisia (4% each).

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“Thank you so much for selecting my research paper for publication in The Pioneer Research Journal!” says Junming Ren from The Lawrenceville School in New Jersey. “It is truly a great honor for my work to be shared in such a high-level academic journal.”

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The following is a list of the students whose work was selected for publication in this years journal along with their high schools, the titles of their research papers, and the subject areas those papers covered:

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Yangyang Zhao

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Shenzhen Foreign Languages School — Shenzhen, China

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A Quantitative Estimation of the Probability of Renal Dysfunction Resulting from the Intake of Cadmium-contaminated Rice Samples in China (Chemistry/ Environmental Studies)

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Yao Lin

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Culver Academies — Culver, Indiana; United States

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A Study On Yoko Ono As A Fluxus And Woman Artist (Art History)

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Liyang Zhou

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Hangzhou No.14 High School — Hangzhou, China

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Borderline Personality Disorder and Emotional Dysfunction: An Etiological Model (Psychology)

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Elif Kulaksizoglu

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Hisar School — Istanbul, Turkey

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Calibrating the Salt Concentration of Water Using Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR) Technique (Engineering)

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Jiazan Sun

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Auckland International College — Auckland, New Zealand

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Creative Destruction in the Sharing Economy: Uber’s Impacts and Regulation (Economics)

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Kehui Guo

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Beijing World Youth Academy  — Beijing, China

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Descartes’ Justification of the Reliability of Memory (Philosophy).

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Banban Tan

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The Affiliated High School of South China Normal University — Guangzhou, China

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Educational Practices for Developing Life and Communication Skills Among Teenagers Having Down syndrome in United States and in China (Education)

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Raaka Mukhopadhyay

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Academy for Allied Health Sciences — Scotch Plains, New Jersey; United States

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Examination of Antisocial Personality Disorder: Determining Gender Bias on MMPI Psychopathic Deviate and Evaluating Substance Abuse Relapse Rates (Neuroscience)

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Qianyi Lu

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Beijing No.4 High School, International Campus — Beijing, China

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Film Noir, Urban Space, and Human Agency: Three Case Studies. (Film Studies)

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Jing Chen

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Nanjing High School of Jiangsu Province — Jiangyin, China

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Gender Difference in Network Strength and Mode of Transformation in Entrepreneurial Learning (Business)

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Abigail Romero

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Walter G. O`Connell Copiague High School — Copiague, New York; United States

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How do Perturbation-Based Interventions Help Reactive Balance Control in Stroke Survivors? (Biology)

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Yuwei Guo

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The High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China — Beijing, China

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Human Workers and Machine Poets (Science, Technology, Society)

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Jiahui Chen

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International Department of the Affiliated High School of South China Normal University —Guangzhou, China

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Love Thy Neighbor: A Comparative Analysis of Public Discourse about Chinese Rural Migrant (Sociology)

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Joanna Ding

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Choate Rosemary Hall — Wallingford, Connecticut; United States

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Populism & The Paradoxical Politics of Identity (Political Science)

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Shreya Kashap

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Monta Vista High School — Cupertino, California; United States

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Reducing Oncogenic Behavior of MLL Fusion Proteins by Inhibiting Combinations of Genes Necessary for Leukemia Proliferation (Biology)

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Liuxi Sun

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Phillips Exeter Academy — Exeter, New Hampshire; United States

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Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS): the “Liking” Reaction and Behavioral Implications (Neuroscience)

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Zheyang Xiong

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Nansha College Preparatory Academy — Guangzhou, China

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Spontaneous Micro-Expression Recognition (Computer Science)

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Mrinalini Wadhwa

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American Embassy School — New Delhi, India

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Stakeholder Analysis: An Explanation of the Botswana Paradox (History)

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Lobna Jbeniani

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African Leadership Academy — Roodepoort, South Africa

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Structures for Women’s Empowerment: A Metaethical Analysis of Institutional Sexism in Modern History (Philosophy)

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Elijah Tamarchenko

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New Paltz Senior High School — New Paltz, New York; United States

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The Application of the Buddhist Idea of “Non-Self” to Western Psychotherapy Practices (Philosophy)

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Junming Ren

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The Lawrenceville School — Lawrence Township, New Jersey; United States

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The RAISE Act: Shutting the Doors to the Land of Immigrants (Economics)

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Baoyan Ye

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High School Affiliated to Shanghai Jiaotong University — Shanghai, China

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The Transformation of Hip Hop Music Lyrics in China under Political Censorship from 2017 to 2018 (Culture Studies)

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Max Podell

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Piedmont High School — Piedmont, California; United States

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This Land is Their Land: How Indigenous Peoples Are Crucial to Modern Species Conservation (Environmental Studies)

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Rana Urek

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Robert College — Istanbul, Turkey

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Tilings of a 2 × n checkerboard with squares and dominoes (Mathematics)

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See Where Pioneer Scholars Will Go to College in 2019! [January 26, 2019 ]

We’re very delighted to share what research 2018 Pioneer Scholars from around the world pursued and what colleges they will take their passionate selves to. The chart below lists Pioneer Scholars who received admissions from their dream college during the Early Application or Early Decision round. The chart is divided first into universities then into liberal arts colleges; it mentions the high school they attended as well as their Pioneer research paper title.  We’re very proud of these Pioneer alumni and look forward to what they’ll continue to accomplish in the years to come!

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For Pioneers of any year, if you would like to be connected with Pioneer alumni at your university, please send an email to anesce.dremen@pioneeracademics.com with your full name. Additionally, for 2018 Pioneer alumni who do not see their research paper listed, please reach out to the email aforementioned.

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Pioneers Launch Questions to the Far Side of the Moon [January 25, 2019 ]

In this riveting follow up to the initial discussion on the historical mission of Chang’E to the moon, Professor Mahootian responds to questions from Pioneers!


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The Chinese lunar probe named Chang’e 4 successfully landed on the far side of the Moon at 2:30am GMT Jan 03 2019. It is the very first time in history that humans have explored the Moon’s so-called “dark” side, which, until now, it has remained something of a mystery. Though it is not really dark– the Sun shines there, too– the far side the Moon has been called “dark” because it never faces the Earth due to what astronomers call “ tidal locking.” The Moon rotates on its own axis at exactly the same rate that it orbits around the Earth. It takes the Moon 27.3 days to rotate once on its own axis, and it also takes 27.3 days for the Moon to make one orbit around the Earth. The result of tidal locking is that the same side of the Moon faces the Earth at all times.  This situation creates a major challenge for space explorers: the far side of the Moon is shielded from radio transmissions from Earth, thus preventing any direct communication– this is largely what prevented previous exploration of the Moon’s far side. China’s Chang’e program developed a plan for indirect radio contact by relaying signals through a Chang’e satellite, called the “Magpie Bridge,” located far beyond the Moon’s orbit to allow the Chang’e lander to communicate with Mission Control, back on Earth.

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Chang’e is the Chinese Moon Goddess. In the legend dated circa  2400 BCE, she stole the immortality pill and rose up to the moon trapped as a fairy goddess. Four thousand years later, China developed advanced technology to unveil the myths of her “lunar palace” that had remained unexplored by mankind.

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Professor Farzad Mahootian is a Clinical Associate Professor at New York University where he has been for eight years, where he teaches courses Liberal Studies courses in interdisciplinary humanities and sciences. His research has been published in the Boston Studies in Philosophy of Science, and Cambridge University Press, among others. Dr. Mahootian has been awarded grants from the Arizona State University Institute of Humanities Research, Templeton Foundation, National Science Foundation Grant, and NASA Learning Technologies Program Cooperative Agreement. He has developed and evaluated programs for NASA with the support of Raytheon Technical Services Company. Through his experiences, Professor Mahootian has conferred with scientists, teachers, and students alike and is proud to admit he has learned a lot from all parties; during the internet boom of the 1990s, he helped to provide students online access to a database of satellite data of the Earth and other planets, so they could acquire information previously used only within the scientific and scholarly community.

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Student Questions Answered by Professor Mahootian:

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Laura from the U.S. was selected and participated in Pioneer Academic’s astronomy field in spring 2018; her research paper is entitled “Blazar Jets Kinematics and Related Topics.”

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The dark side of the moon has more craters than the side that we see. Why?

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The short answer is that over the course of its history,  tidal forces tinned the surface of the near-side of the Moon, resulting in more numerous lava flowing more readily than on the far side. The flow-covered areas called “Maria,” Latin for “Seas. A large number of older craters on the near side of the Moon have been covered and erased by volcanoes and lava flows. So the next question is, “why were there more volcanoes on the near side?” The answer has to do with the effect of the Earth gravity on the near side: just as the moon tugs on Earth’s oceans to produce high and low tides easily observable  at ocean beaches, it also attracts the solid Earth, but the latter is not easily observed. Now, the same force that pulls at the Earth’s surface also pulls the Moon’s (the force of gravity felt by Earth and Moon is the same). As soon as the Moon was formed in orbit around Earth, its rotation on its own axis gradually became locked into to its revolution around the Earth. This gradual adjustment is called “tidal resonance” and it locked the Moon into the situation we observe today: only one side of the Moon ever faces Earth because the Moon’s rotation on its own axis takes exactly the same amount of time as its revolution around the Earth. Over time, the crust of Moon’s near side becomes thinner than the crust on the far side because the near side always feels the Earth’s gravity more strongly than does its far side. Lava flows came to the surface of the ancient Moon more readily on the near side– because of its relative thinness– thus covering craters more often on the near side. This process went on for as long as it took for the Moon’s core to cool off and end all of its volcanic activity.

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Laura from the U.S.

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Did the asteroids that hit the Moon hit Earth when life first appeared? Did those asteroids bring the necessities for life?

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We have evidence from other missions that various organic chemicals, some of which are necessary for the maintenance of life on Earth,  are synthesized on other bodies in space. So it’s very possible that asteroids and comets, which routinely carry these molecules in the water ice (which is both on and under their surface) introduced the necessities of life when they crashed into Earth. Water ice exists all through the known universe: even the planet Mercury has ice on its surface, despite its very high temperature and extreme closeness to the Sun, since some areas of the north and south poles of Mercury and other planets are permanently in shadow.  Because of the abundance of water in the universe, any body that collides with the Moon or the Earth, will contain ice and that itself is likely to contain organic chemicals.

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But the key question is exactly what molecules are necessary not just for maintaining life, but for actually starting life? In the field of astrobiology, we look for as many molecules as possible which could possibly aid in the rising of life. Generally, these include molecules containing nitrogen, carbon, and oxygen. Essentially, every celestial body that is able to have ice that hasn’t melted yet may have captured some of those organic chemicals. It’s a very interesting question and unless we have samples from the moons of Mars and Jupiter, it’s not really possible to answer.

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Julie (10 year old space fan) from the U.S. Pioneer community:

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Since the Moon is rotating at the same time it orbits the Earth, how was the probe landed on the side of the Moon that does not face the Earth?

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The beautiful physics of bodies moving in space is called mechanics, and in the case of celestial bodies, it is called celestial mechanics. For every space flight, scientists must calculate how long it takes to get to a celestial body while that body is not only moving through space, but also spinning on its own axis. Once it gets near its destination, the spacecraft must change and stabilize and  movement to match the orbit of the planet it is trying to land on. In order to touch down on a planet or moon, you must first stay in its orbit. Depending on the angle and speed with which you enter a moon’s neighborhood, your may have to orbit the moon several times.

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And this is where Magpie Bridge comes into play: it can communicate in near-real time with the lander (it takes 1.3 seconds for a signal to go between Magpie Bridge and Mission Control), to see if the lander is where the Chinese space agency ground control thinks it should be at any given point in time, and then relay this information back to ground control.  If the spacecraft is even a little off course in its orbit that could translate into being way off course for its landing site. The Magpie Bridge has direct communication with the lander and with mission control, and has the capacity to adjust its position, from moment to moment, from orbit to soft landing. With Chang’e 4, the information was sent back and forth via the Magpie relay and so there was a bit more of a lag in exchanging information but an absolute absence visual contact.  So, with input from the engineers at mission control, the autonomous lander had to make its own adjustments, in hopes that their calculations matched the lander’s situation. This is potentially risky because the Moon’s gravity is not uniform all across its surface variations in the solar wind could also change the lander’s orbit, so you are taking a risk whenever you make calculations not knowing what variations the spacecraft might encounter. The unexpected crash landing of an Apollo mission sub-satellite, PFS-2, led to the discovery of major variations in lunar gravity across its surface. So you are taking a risk whenever you make calculations not knowing what variations the spacecraft might encounter. You must hope you have good luck, and trust in the spacecraft’s autopilot because you can’t know if it will crash or land. The Magpie Bridge reduced the risk tremendously by continuously transmitting the lander’s position back to mission control. For those interested in learning more, the field which studies this question of simultaneous movement of moons, planets and spacecraft, look up “celestial mechanics.”

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Why did China pick the egg of the silkworm to test on the moon? Would it be a good idea to test cockroach eggs, too?

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I think cockroach eggs would have been great as well. Cockroaches have existed on planet Earth for 300 million years.  While earthworms and other members of the worm family, including silk worms, began to appear about 600 million years ago, silkworms as we know them, were domesticated and selectively bred not much more than 5000 years ago. Nevertheless, it certainly seems to be the case that cockroaches are more hardy than silkworms. This means that if silkworms can survive this experiment, then a broad array of organisms could also survive the Moon’s gravitational environment. Also, and perhaps more importantly,  the choice of silkworm rather than cockroach is an important symbolic gesture intended to commemorate China’s contribution of silk to the world.    

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Albert from Beijing, China submitted his questions on the Pioneer community:

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Since the far side of the moon always faces away from the earth, is it possible to build architectures that are only known to the builders?

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Though I’m not positive about what it means to be “only known to the builders,” it seems to express a concern about the potential of building a station or other structures that are hidden from view. But in fact, nothing would be hidden from everyone permanently– there have been previous lunar mapping missions and NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter continues to map both sides of the Moon to this day. So it would be impossible to keep something hidden forever.

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Iris from Shanghai, China submitted her questions on the Pioneer community:

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What is expected to be the differences (geographic/environmental) between the dark side and the side that we can see, and what are the anticipated practical meanings of this exploration?

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Questions about the Moon’s environment must consider geological and geochemical factors, as well as geographical ones. While there are composition maps of both sides of the moon, thanks to previous Lunar mapping missions (see the end of this feature for more links), the environment of the far side has never been sampled from the surface, so there is much to learn about the differences between the near and far side environments. The most dramatic geological difference is the absence of Maria, therefore more craters, on the far side.  The Chang’e landing site, the Von Karman crater, is located in the gigantic Aitken Basin– the largest known impact crater in the whole solar system. This site was chosen because the massive impact that created the basin has exposed the Moon’s deep crust, and likely its mantle as well. So, thanks the Chang’e 4, we may learn something really new about the Moon’s composition. Samples collected here will tell us about the early history of the Moon, and possibly give us a definitive understanding of its origin– this is incredibly exciting!  

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Albert from Beijing:

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Is it possible to build a launch center on the other side of the moon and use it to somehow reduce the distances needed to travel for probes on future missions? Or would that distance be small enough to be trivial?

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The distance would not be significantly different in comparison to the distance it needs to travel from the Moon to destinations beyond. So whether a spacecraft is launched from the near or far side wouldn’t make a significant difference. It’s easier to have launch and maintain contact from the near side. NASA and other space programs plan to build stations on the near side. The amount of fuel needed to achieve lift-off from the Moon is a lot less than launching from Earth. So, after lunar space stations (which would not be a trivial cost) are built, launches from the Moon would be cost effective in the sense that spacecraft could go a lot further with far less fuel. This would be a great benefit.

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Tommy from Canada studied physics through Pioneer Academics in the summer 2018 semester; his research paper is entitled, “Sulfur K-edge micro-X-ray Absorption Near-Edge Spectroscopy (XANES) using synchrotron radiation.”

How will this [exploration] of the other side of the moon benefit potential future lunar missions? Should we establish a lunar research base in the future? If so, what are some advantages and disadvantages of conducting such mission? In what ways can the Chang’e 4 mission benefit future Mars exploration missions?

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The most immediate advantage is for telescopes that would be placed on the far side of the Moon, for there will be virtually no interference from radio signals from the Earth. Furthermore, while we have established that there’s a difference between the near and far sides of the Moon (see the previous questions on this), we can verify our theories about the difference– its composition and origin– only by being there to actually collect samples, run experiments and take measurements. Without physically going to specific sites like the one that Chang’e 4 has selected, we would never have a reliable answer to your questions. Also, as indicated in an answer to a previous question about Lunar stations, the space programs of several countries agree that the Moon should be viewed as stepping stone to other celestial bodies, with Mars as the next stop. Aside from the advantage gained by Moon-based telescope, there are cost-saving advantages: we can go farther with less fuel by launching new missions from the Moon rather than from Earth.

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Tommy from Canada:

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Since China is slowly catching up with the United States in the arena of space exploration, do you think the success of Chang’e 4 can spark another space race between the different countries on Earth?

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I think that Chang’e may direct more of NASA’s attention on the Moon in the future.  There has been a growing interest in the “back to the Moon” movement of the past few decades; NASA may indeed feel some competition from the Chang’e program, but there is room for collaboration as well. Why has NASA never sent a lander to the far side? This is a great question to ask someone that has worked on NASA’s lunar missions. I worked with various NASA education programs for about 10 years and during part of that time, I worked directly with NASA Headquarters. I learned that whenever NASA makes decision about selecting any mission for launch, there are always a lot of competing missions, each of which is interesting and important. So there is always the difficult choice of selecting one really good mission over another really good mission. Scientist and program managers have to weigh how much money should be invested and consider the scientific, technical, social, and political gains in each case.

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I think the communication challenge was a factor, and certainly one that increases the cost of a mission to the far side, but it was probably not the single main issue. It’s usually a very complicated process, but looking back at the long hiatus between NASA lunar missions from the 1970s to the 1990s, it seems that someone presented the argument that “we know enough about the Moon,” and this effectively reduced interest in and funding for any Moon missions…until recently. In August 2018, NASA announced a new “sustainable campaign to return to the Moon, and on to Mars,” and marked the beginning of “America’s new Moon to Mars exploration approach” in December 2018, just ten days after Chang’e 4 was launched. Finally, here is a recent story about the potential for US-China space cooperation and collaboration, in connection with the Chang’e program.

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Tommy from Canada:

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If Chang’e 4 were to discover large amount of mineral deposits and intriguing rock composition, do you think it would be a good idea to start excavating the surface of the moon and conduct mining operations?

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Here are a number of beautiful surface maps of the entire Moon (from data collected by NASA’s Clementine, Lunar Prospector and other missions), one of which is a chemical composition map that offers a lot of clues about what might lie below the surface. There have been studies about the economic feasibility of mining the moon for mineral, even for the water from Lunar ice. Mining requires heavy equipment and lots of energy. While people have proposed extracting hydrogen and oxygen from Lunar water for the energy needs, the cost of shipping heavy mining equipment to the Moon is still quite high. Here’s a Business Insider magazine article that discusses price-per-pound cost of lifting things from Earth into orbit … and these prices are just for transporting things to the International Space Station, which is actually in a low-Earth orbit. It would cost more to get things safely to the Moon!

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Pioneer Editor from Space:

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What additional resources can I turn to?

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  • See the NASA Moon Art gallery,  and also the Moon overview page, showing landing sites and a sampling of different kinds of maps.

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  • Here is an informative article on Chang-e 4’s mini-biosphere, from the International Business Times. News flash: here is an update about the mini-biosphere experiment: one of the seeds has germinated!

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  • The BBC website had some very good details too, but they erroneously listed fruit fly eggs rather than silkworm eggs! Surprisingly, nearly two weeks have passed and they have not corrected that error since its original publication on Jan 3. It seems that they have missed the entire symbolic dimension of the Chinese-ness of the mission!  

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  • The South China Morning Post published a story about how China’s Moon rover may be looking for a Helium isotope that could be used as alternative rocket fuel, noting that,

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“The primary element on the moon is helium-3, which for now is too expensive to haul back to Earth. In theory, the non-radioactive isotope could be used as fuel for the next generations of spacecraft to explore deeper into space.” This is misleading because  helium-3 is not a “primary” element on the Moon– at 50 parts per billion maximum, it is hardly that. Perhaps the author meant that helium-3 is a “primary target for extraction.”  Here is an article from the European Space Agency with some more detail on the potential and cost of Lunar  helium-3.

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Chang’e 4’s Historic Mission to the “Dark” Side of the Moon Inspires Bright Young Minds [January 19, 2019 ]

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The following article, fascinating in its content about this “first” in human history, presents a stimulating dialogue between a Professor from New York University, Pioneer Scholars (students who have completed the Pioneer Global Research Program), and students who follow Pioneer Academics on social media.


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Scientific American features Pioneer as one of the three leading online mentoring programs (you can sign up to learn more about Pioneer) [September 28, 2018 ]

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You can click here to read the entire article.

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High school students – do you want to dive into an area of study and explore a never-before answered question with a professor-mentor? Pioneer Academics, a public benefit corporation, created a research mentorship model for high school students in 2012. This unique model provides undergraduate-level credit-bearing research opportunities to talented, intellectually motivated high school students from around the world.

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It is the only online research program for high school students that offers 28 study areas in STEM, social sciences and humanities disciplines. In the Pioneer Research Program, students work one-on-one with leading US university professors in advanced study and research of a topic of their interest, culminating in a full-length research paper. The program is conducted entirely online, allowing high school students from all over the world to participate. 1392 students from 43 countries and regions have participated in the program in the past seven years.

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As part of its social mission, Pioneer Academics dedicates funds every year to need-based scholarships for students to participate in the Pioneer Research Program. These funds are restricted to cases in which the need of the student’s family can be reliably accredited. Students are eligible for these scholarships in countries where need can be assessed or if they are part of a non-profit organization or an educational institution that can assess need.

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The 28 research areas include:

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Anthropology, architecture, art history, astronomy, biology, business, chemistry, communications study, computer science, culture study, economics, education, engineering, environmental studies, film studies, history, international relations, literature, mathematics, media studies, music theory, neuroscience, philosophy, physics, political science, psychology, STS (Science, technology and society), and sociology

Register and we will invite you to learn more by attending the online information session

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https://pioneeracademics.com/html/joininfosession.php?UTC=America

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Five Keys to Fostering Independent Learning [March 11, 2018 ]

Article Published in The Edvocate on Dec 20, 2017

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The Edvocate article link

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From spotting bias to connecting learning with the world outside the classroom, these classroom practices will help students ‘learn how to learn.’

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By Dennis Pierce

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In too many K-12 classrooms, students are still being spoon-fed information. But this outdated approach to instruction doesn’t teach them to become independent learners and problem solvers.

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Why is this distinction important? The test-centered courses tend to rely on a “sit and get” approach, which “stifles students’ curiosity,” says Matthew Jaskol, founder of Pioneer Academics, which offers high school students the opportunity to collaborate with college professors on original research. “If students don’t feel free to explore and take risks, that’s not a very healthy environment for learning.”

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“The spoon-feeding has to stop,” agrees Alan November, founder of the education consulting firm November Learning. “It does not elicit awe and wonder.”

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Simply imparting information not only fails to engage students, it also leaves them unprepared to navigate a world in which the problems don’t have nice, neat solutions. Rather than giving students information, educators should be giving them the tools and skills they’ll need to learn, think critically, and solve problems on their own, these experts argue.

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Fostering independent learning prepares students more effectively for the rigors of college and 21st century careers. It helps them participate in a democratic society, and it ensures that students will continue learning long after they graduate.

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Here are five keys to fostering independent learning among students.

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1) Students must learn how to find and assess the quality of information.

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Fostering independent learning begins by teaching students how to find the answers to questions for themselves. “Priority No. 1 is getting the right information at the right time,” November says. “If you don’t have the right information, it doesn’t matter that you’re doing critical thinking, because you’re thinking about the wrong things.”

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Students should learn how to perform sophisticated web searches using Google search operators such as “site” and “filetype” to narrow their queries to specific domains or file types, November says. Students also must learn how to research a topic using multiple sources, and they must understand how to critically evaluate the information they find.

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Jaskol describes how the students working on independent research projects learn how to use critical thinking skills to uncover any bias or flaws in logic. “Students learn not to take everything they read as the truth,” he says. “When a professor shows them the flaws or bias that might exist in a paper they find online, it’s an inspiring experience. Students learn to read with their own critical judgment—which is invaluable to becoming a lifelong learner.”

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2) Students must learn how to develop new lines of inquiry.

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To become independent learners, students must learn how to ask thought-provoking, insightful questions that will take their understanding of a topic to a deeper level. “Teaching students how to ask good questions is critical,” November says. “Many students have never been taught how to develop deeper lines of inquiry.”

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One pathway to developing their own lines of inquiry is through research. Here, Jaskol offers a note of caution about the difference between conducting students’ own research and getting involved in others’ research projects or following a formatted research project. Though there is no better or worse experience in learning, these two kinds of effort develop different skills. The deeper lines of inquiry are best developed through following students’ own ideas, while the latter helps the students exercise the foundations of research techniques.

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The step where rich nutrients dwell for students’ learning is picking a research topic. Students doing original research through Pioneer Academics learn how to narrow down a topic by asking probing questions that help focus their research, Jaskol says. For instance, Karalee Corley, a Pioneer student from Florida was enthusiastic about anthropology linguistics. She had an idea she wanted to delve into, but had difficulty pinpointing a topic for her paper. Her professor brainstormed with her on different directions, such as language and day-to-day conversations, language and marketing, and language and the workplace. He guided her to come up with 50 different questions for each direction. He then asked her to develop deeper lines of inquiry by following the way she raised those questions, observing the environment, and seeking the inspiration for her paper topic. These inquiry skills made a remarkable difference: after brainstorming with her professor, she spotted a pattern in the way female students adjusted their vocabulary when there were male students around, leading to her paper, entitled “Women’s Language Perpetuates Stereotypes.”

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When it comes to developing lines of inquiry, November pointed to the Right Question Institute as an invaluable resource. The organization has developed a framework for helping students learn to develop new lines of inquiry by asking more sophisticated questions about what they are learning.

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3) Students must learn how to collaborate and learn from others.

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Becoming an independent learner also requires understanding how to work with—and learn from—each other. We don’t just learn from books and the internet; we also learn by communicating with our peers and with experts in the field. Students should learn how to collaborate with others and cultivate a personal learning network of peers and experts whom they can turn to for advice and support.

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Jaskol predicts that, with world development turning everyone into a global citizen, peer learning and cross-cultural mindfulness will be key to individual success. The future will definitely favor those who can understand, communicate with, and team up with others in their network. This is the reason why Pioneer holds peer-learning sessions where scholars are obligated to learn about their peers’ research topics and offer feedback to each other.

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As an example of the power of a global peer network, November cites Olivia Van Ledtje, who—at age nine—already had a global following on Twitter. Olivia records a video blog called LivBits in which she shares information about the books she has read and her observations about life. With the help of her mother, who is an educator herself, Liv is using social media to expand her worldview, learn from other experts, and even connect with people she admires. “Every kid should have a global network like Liv,” November says.

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4) Teachers must learn to shift their roles.

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Fostering independent learners requires a shift in the habits and culture of the classroom. It also requires teachers to give up some degree of control over the flow of information.

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For example, Jaskol sees a fine line between answering students’ questions and challenging students to find the answers for themselves. Rather than bailing them out if they hit a snag in their research, he says, “the faculty should guide them towards further inspiration.”

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5) Teachers should challenge students with authentic problems and open-ended questions.

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With standardized tests increasingly dominating students’ academic lives, it is becoming a norm that most of the problems presented to students are perceived to have a right or wrong answer, Jaskol says. But that’s not how the problems students will encounter in the “real world” take shape. When students are challenged to explore open-ended questions that have some real-world relevance, they develop the skills and habits they’ll need to take on challenges in their lives—and their passion for learning is ignited.

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November agrees. “If you’re solving for X, it’s just not interesting,” he says. “You’re pumping through a formula. But if you’re applying algebra to design a prosthetic for a child whose family can’t afford one, and you’ve got a 3D printer so you can create one for that child yourself, then it makes sense to study algebra.”

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Dennis Pierce is a freelance writer who has been covering education for more than 20 years. He can be reached at denniswpierce@gmail.com.

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http://www.theedadvocate.org/5-keys-fostering-independent-learning/

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Helping Gifted Students Reach Their Full Potential [January 11, 2018 ]

Education Week’s blogs > Education Futures: Emerging Trends in K-12, December 11, 2017

By Dennis Pierce

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When Tyler Bennett and Esther Reyes began their freshman year at Achievement First High School in Brooklyn four years ago, Monica Debbeler could tell right away they were destined for success–and that the school was dedicated to bringing the challenging opportunities they needed to them.

 

“Tyler was truly motivated by her desire to learn, not just by grades or social pressures, but by a very deep desire to know and understand more,” said Debbeler, who is the school’s dean of college. “And Esther impressed me from day one with the seriousness with which she approached her education. She has gone above and beyond in her academics in ways no student has before.”

 

The Challenge of Challenging Gifted Students

 

Finding opportunities to keep gifted students like Tyler and Esther engaged in high school can be challenging. That’s true even for a school like Achievement First, a public charter school with a strong college preparatory mission, where students must be accepted into a four-year college before earning their diploma.

 

Debbeler–a researcher who served as special projects coordinator for the 800-student school at the time–had come across Pioneer Academics, which offers college-level research opportunities to exceptional high school students worldwide.

 

“It immediately struck me as an opportunity that would push our most intellectually curious students to a level beyond what our high school could offer,” she said. “The opportunity to do research before even enrolling in college is something that our (gifted) students are hungry for.”

 

Collaborating with Professors

 

According to Pioneers Academics’ program director and co-founder Matthew Jaskol, the Pioneer Research Program identifies gifted high school students and arranges collaborations with faculty from prestigious colleges and universities, who mentor the students one-on-one as they pursue original research of their own choosing.

 

The program, which is conducted entirely online during the spring and summer months, gives high achievers an outlet in which to channel their passion for learning, while also exposing them to the rigors of college-level research. Since its founding in 2013, more than 800 students from 27 countries have benefitted from the experience. And, thanks to partnerships with several nonprofit organizations, many students–including Tyler and Esther–have received need-based scholarships to participate.

 

Tyler, who is passionate about literature and writing, studied with a Pomona College professor for her research. She chose to compare Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me and Tony Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. Esther was mentored by a professor from New York University’s Program in International Relations as she researched the challenges that Muslims face in modern France.

 

“I feel there are some similarities between my own Mexican heritage and those who identify as Muslims,” said Esther, whose father was deported back to Mexico when she was a child, leaving her undocumented mother to raise three daughters and support the family. “In my writing and discussions, I want to talk not only about what it means to be a Mexican, but also what it means to be from different cultures, ethnicities, and backgrounds.”

 

This fall, both girls have moved on to Ivy League universities: Tyler to Princeton and Esther to Yale. They credit their research experience with helping them transcend their personal circumstances and prepare for success in college. The experience “has made me a better writer,” Tyler said. “It has built up my confidence to the point that I now believe in my abilities and feel that I deserve to attend a premier university with the highest academic standards.”

 

From the Classroom to the ‘Real World’

 

Some of the “passion projects” that students take on within the program have important real-world implications. For instance, Indian student Rahil Bathwal used graph theory–the mathematical study of network nodes and their connections–to explore potential solutions to his native Mumbai’s landfill problem.

 

“The waste management problems, I’ve seen in my city are quite drastic, and I wanted to develop something that could be implemented in the future,” said Rahil, who is now attending the California Institute of Technology. “This (experience) has helped me understand real-world problem solving.” Although he has moved on to college, Rahil continues to work on his research study.

 

Pioneer Academics’ Jaskol said that students like Rahil face an often-overlooked challenge: With schools and districts focused on helping struggling students achieve grade-level proficiency, students at the very top end of the academic spectrum often aren’t getting the stimulation they need to stay engaged in school or tap their full potential.

 

While U.S. law acknowledges that gifted students have academic needs that are not traditionally met in regular school settings, “there are no specific requirements in place for serving these students,” Jaskol said. “Instead, gifted education is a local responsibility. As a result, gifted students can end up as an underserved population. Only by challenging them — and not simply assigning them more of the same sort of work–will we discover just how much they can achieve.”

 

Dennis Pierce is a freelance writer with 20 years of experience in covering education. He can be reached at denniswpierce@gmail.com.

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Justice and the Arab Spring: A Guide to the Arab Street [April 28, 2017 ]

Students began signing on to Pioneer Academics’ Pioneer Open Dialogue Series (PODS) landing page a half-hour early, not to get a good seat, for no one had to leave their home to attend; but to make sure the technology was working.  “Microphone?” “Check!”  “Camera?” Check!” “You’re good to go,” from Pioneer Academics Program Director Matthew Jaskol meant you were registered, signed in and ready to participate in Pioneer Academic’s first Pioneer Open Discussion Series event of 2017: Justice and the Arab Spring: A Guide to Arab Street with Princeton University Professor Lawrence Rosen, PhD.

When 9:00 a.m. EDT arrived, 35 students from US, India, Canada, Qatar, South Africa, Turkey, Taiwan, and China were online and excited to join Dr. Rosen in a discussion of cultural components of the Arab Spring through the eyes of people on the street in the Middle East.

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First, the students met two men politely trying to determine who was responsible for a bird escaping from a shopkeeper’s cage.  Who’s responsible for the loss? The shopper or the shopkeeper?  In Arab culture, it’s the first sentient being involved who is responsible. In this case, the bird! It is man’s responsibility to use his reason to understand this, and to enhance his relationships with others. So the shopper and the shopkeeper agree they both are responsible, and parted friends, i.e., indebted to each other.

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Next Dr. Rosen introduced the students to Hussein from Morocco, who inquires of Dr. Rosen whether there is corruption in America. “Yes,” responds Dr. Rosen, as he cites several examples.

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“Bribing a politician,” posits Dr. Rosen? “No, that’s just politics,” says Hussein.” “Kickbacks,” says Dr. Rosen. “No, that’s just business,” says Hussein. Then Dr. Rosen cites nepotism; and Hussein says that’s just family solidarity, and concludes, “That’s why America is a great country, because there is no corruption there!”

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Lastly the students met Ibanik, also from Morocco, who tells us about an individual whom he knows not, based on pictures he is shown of that person in social settings. He talks about the person without regard for chronology, as if the person’s past is his present.

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Each of these examples, Dr. Rosen explains, are manifestations of Arab culture, in which reason and relationships are paramount, and which seem unintelligible to many Westerners.  By understanding these men on the street, Dr. Rosen went on, one can better understand the Arab Spring and what it meant to the countries of North Africa and the Middle East.

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Dr. Rosen responded to student questions submitted in advance (so he could prepare better answers) and to some rising spontaneously during his talk.

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Dr. Lawrence Rosen, Ph.D., is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Anthropology at Princeton University. He is both a distinguished anthropologist and accomplished attorney at law.

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Student reactions to the Pioneer Open Dialogue Series were enthusiastic, even though for some it was late night; while for others, early morning.  “It was a great presentation and it really invoked a lot of thoughts for me,” said one student. “The session was enlightening, and has helped me understand the situation of the Arab Spring from a different point of view,” explained another.

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Pioneer Open Dialogue Series is free to persons of all ages and ethnicities from around the world. All that is required is a computer with a camera and microphone. “It’s Pioneer’s way of providing additional educational opportunities to a much wider audience than the Pioneer Research Program provides,” Pioneer Academics Program Director Matthew Jaskol states. “It’s a way of sharing great ideas,” Jaskol explained, “without regard for anything but the joy of learning.”

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The next Pioneer Open Dialogue Series discussion is planned for Summer 2017.

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Pioneer Academics provides 100% online educational opportunities for academically outstanding high school students around the world through it’s innovative Pioneer Research Program. Learn more at www.pioneeracademics.com.

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Pioneer Professor: You Can Be an Entrepreneur [December 19, 2016 ]

Pioneer Academics held a Pioneer Open Dialogue Seminar (PODS) with Professor Ted Zoller of University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler School of Business on December 16, 2016. At UNC, he oversees the teaching and outreach programs of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. Dr. Zoller spoke online with 20 students from six regions: Rwanda, India, China, Hong Kong, the United States, and Malaysia. He spoke about what it takes to be an entrepreneur and how students can develop the skills necessary to become one.

Co-host: Christina Sun

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Cohosting the event was Christina Sun, one of Professor Zoller’s students in the Pioneer Research Program last summer. Christina is a senior at Harbin No.3 High School in Harbin, China. Opening the event, Dr. Zoller said to the students that the goal of his talk was “to open you up to what could be your entrepreneurial future.”

What is entrepreneurship?

Dr. Zoller challenged student attendees, asking, “are you an entrepreneur?” He said that many young people don’t see themselves as entrepreneurs when, in fact, they have the potential to be. He said the common excuses are “I don’t have an idea,” “I don’t have enough resources,” and “I don’t have the capability to be an entrepreneur.” Dr. Zoller then told students that entrepreneurship is a process of constructing and designing their own lives. He said that the biggest barrier to becoming an entrepreneur is giving oneself permission to seize opportunities. The students learned Howard Steven’s definition of entrepreneurship – “the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.”

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Dr. Zoller likened entrepreneurship to playing checkers and not chess. One always has to look at the changing context of the market. A new idea is only disruptive until the market adopts and assumes it. Innovative ideas may not initially be well received because they’ve never existed before. But if they solve a real need, then they will become part of the market landscape.

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Success

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Dr. Zoller led a discussion of words like “opportunity,” “risk, “luck,” and “failure” in the context of entrepreneurship. He also lingered on the word “success,” saying everyone has a different understanding of it, but that “unless you define it, you don’t know how to acquire it.” He advised students to think about the special contribution they wanted to make in their lifetimes and the change they’d like to see in the world, and then define that as success for themselves.

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Preparing to be an entrepreneur

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One student in India asked what formal training or things students should do to prepare to be entrepreneurs. Dr. Zoller suggested studying the nature of markets, finance, and economics, and also building experience in the domain in which they’d like to make a difference, like biotechnology, product development, etc. He also recommended students consider universities that have programs to teach innovation, problem solving, and business creation.

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New ideas

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The discussion also touched on the nature of ideas. Students learned that “ideas are valuable, but ideas that are applied are invaluable.” Dr. Zoller told them that entrepreneurs may have new ideas or not, but that they take ideas and make them available to others to solve real problems.

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What makes an entrepreneur?

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In the session, Dr. Zoller conceived of a model of entrepreneurship in which the entrepreneur understands both the market and an innovation. The entrepreneur knows the need of a customer that’s not being met and then the insight that will allow an innovation to meet that need. The customer may not be aware a problem is not being solved until they’re presented with the solution. This is where the entrepreneur’s value proposition lies. This entire process is one of iteration. The expert entrepreneur arrives at the value proposition through having an insight that they test in the market, and then take the market’s feedback to improve their solution. This is often called “lean methodology.”

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The importance of teams

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Dr. Zoller also hit on another key component of entrepreneurship—execution. It is essential to deliver a solution in a timely way that does not expend more resources than it creates. He said that a strong team brings in “left brain entrepreneurs,” those who focus on details, and “right brain entrepreneurs,” those who see the big picture. The left brain entrepreneur dives deep into the business plan and into how very specific details work. The right brain entrepreneur considers how the overall business model meets market trends. A good venture will make use of both kinds of people because they complement each other.

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Pioneer Announces Nominees for Publication in the 2016 Pioneer Research Journal [November 25, 2016 ]

Pioneer Academics has announced the nominees for publication in the 2016 Pioneer Research Journal! The nominated papers were produced by 10th and 11th grade high school students from around the world and are the culmination of their participation in the Pioneer Research Program.

The Journal is published each year to showcase the outstanding work of select young Pioneer scholars.

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For many of the nominees, the paper represents an academic milestone. Despite their prior unfamiliarity with the academic research process, the students quickly learned how research is conducted at the undergraduate level and beyond. Under the guidance of their Pioneer professors, all distinguished educators at top American colleges and universities, the students mastered critical research skills, such as determining a research topic, locating sources, and forming cohesive, structured arguments to defend research results.

˝Pioneer really taught me many skills, both academic and personal,˝  said nominee Sophia Xu of China, whose paper provided a business model for app developers that could help create effective solutions for keeping diabetes in check. ˝The most important skills Pioneer taught me are the academic research skills. Pioneer showed me how to select information which was most important for my research paper. The second set of skills Pioneer taught me was on a more personal level – how to express my opinions and how to clearly communicate with professors.˝

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˝Something that surprised me is the amount of pride that I feel after having done the Pioneer Program,˝ said nominee Rahil Bathwal of India, who used mathematical models to solve his city’s trash problems.

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Each nominated paper will be evaluated by the Pioneer Research Journal Committee, a panel of distinguished professors from leading American undergraduate and graduate institutions, who will determine which papers are to be included in the Journal. The research papers under consideration represent the top 20% of papers written in the Pioneer Research Program’s academic year of 2016.

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The 2016 Pioneer Research Journal student nominees are as follows.

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Nominees

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Adonyev, Philipp

Eton College – Windsor, United Kingdom

We should not strive to be happy

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Bathwal, Rahil

Jamnabai Narsee International School – Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Locating Obnoxious Facilities

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Chen, Xinyu

High School Affiliated to Shanghai Jiao Tong University – Shanghai, China

Sound of Silence: African Spirituality, Cosmology, and Christianity in The Bluest Eye

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Cheng, Yi-Yun (Ethan)

International School of Kuala Lumpur – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

A Review Paper on the CRISPR/Cas System

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Du, Yibing

The High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China – Beijing, China

East European Jewish Children’s Health Conditions on the Lower East Side, New York City, 1890-1914

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Erez, Erce

Robert College of Istanbul – Istanbul, Turkey

Visual Proofs of Fibonacci-like and Other Interesting Sequences

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Fu, Minqi

Beijing National Day School – Beijing, China

Could LIGO Have Heard the Event GW150914 Before Its Upgrade?

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Guo, Boyu (Beryl)

WHBC of Wuhan Foreign Languages School – Wuhan, China

Your Body, My Voice: An analysis of Chinese Naruto Fans’ communication patterns

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Hu, Sean

Pacific American School – Hsinchu, Taiwan

Athena’s Spoiled Olives – How Institutional Flaws of the European Union and Greek Politics Instigated a Failing Economy

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Huang,Yutong

The Affiliated High School of South China Normal University – Guangzhou, China

The Silver Lining Behind the Darkness: Social Media as an Innovative Tool to Combat Sex Trafficking in Southeast Asia

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Ick, Isaac

Dobyns-Bennett High School – Kingsport, Tennessee, USA

Molecule Transistors: The Effects of Test Molecules on the Conduction Patterns of a Lithium Nanowire

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 Jin, Miaochen (Andy)

Beijing No.8 High School – Beijing, China

Coloring Integers: Van der Waerden’s Theorem and Related Theorems

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Khanna, Samar

Dhirubhai Ambani International School – Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

The Effect of Elastic Waves on Semiconductor Band Gap Energies

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Khemka, Pranav Bharat

Jamnabai Narsee International School – Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Study of Neural Circuits Involved in the Intuitive Decision Making Process in Teleostei

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Li, Kevin

Naperville North High School – Naperville, Illinois, USA

The Market Efficiency of “Smart Money” During the Tech Bubble

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Liu, Enci (Jessica)

The Affiliated High School of South China Normal University – Guangzhou, China

Chinese Tracking: An Unexploited Controversial Hotspot with Underlying Benefits

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Luo, Dinghao

The Affiliated High School of South China Normal University – Guangzhou, Chin

Comparison of the Effectiveness of Lithium, Valproate and Aripiprazole for Bipolar Disorder

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Ma, Xiaoyuan (Carol)

Shenzhen Middle School – Shenzhen, China

Employing Nature: A Review of Microbial Remediation of Heavy Metal Contamination in Soil

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Madadi, Ali Masoud

United World College Dilijan – Dilijian, Armenia

How Afghan Migrants Impact Their Homeland Through Remittances

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Mafi, Mina

Crystal Springs Upland School – Hillsborough, California, USA

The Role of Islam in the Gulf Nations

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Qu, Jason

St. George’s School – Vancouver, Canada

Political Culture and Perspective in Transition: Generational Cleavages in the 2016 European Union Referendum in the United Kingdom

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Roth, Joshua

Northside College Prep High School – Chicago, Illinois, USA

Culture and Pain: The Effect of Culture on the Production of Endorphins in the Brain

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Surprenant, Zita

Crossroads School – Santa Monica, California, USA

Residential Skyscrapers in New York City

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Tan, Xin

Chengdu Experimental Foreign Languages School – Chengdu, China

The Great Leap Forward: An Althusserian Analysis of Leftism as Ideology

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Tomar, Ria

Mission San Jose High School – Fremont, California, USA

The Neural and Cognitive Basis of Dreaming

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Truesdale II, Wallace

The Pingry School – New Jersey, USA

When the Soldier Becomes the Robot: Examination of the Mental Effects of Autonomous Weaponry

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Ugur, Baris Eser

Robert College of Istanbul – Istanbul, Turkey

Behavior of Single Molecule Capacitors in Correlation with the Molecular Structure

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Wang, Jingxu

High School Attached to Capital Normal University – Beijing, China

2016 United States Risk Analysis

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Wang, Yixi (Cecilia)

Chengdu Foreign Languages School – Chengdu, China

Comparison of Nonverbal Communication in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine

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Wong, Yun Ying (Alesha)

Tenby International School – Penang, Malaysia

Comparing and Contrasting Economic Development: The Case of Malaysia and Singapore

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Xu, Cheng (Sophia)

WHBC of Wuhan Foreign Languages School – Wuhan, China

Potential for Developers and Investors in Diabetes Apps to Profit by Improving the Chinese Healthcare Industry

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Xu, Wenxi (Tilly)

The Madeira School – McLean, Virginia, USA

A comparison of Ideologies and Practices: Malcolm X’s influence on Black Lives Matter

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Xu, Yuchen (Henry)

The High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China – Beijing, China

A World of Possibility — Tier-Oriented Base-Storage Network for CCN Routing

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Xi, Yue (Kelly)

The Affiliated High School of South China Normal University – Guangzhou, China

High-Tech Organicity

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Yin, Boshang

Beijing 101 Middle School – Beijing, China

The Chinese Reform of the Science and Humanities Curriculum

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Zeng, Lu (Doris)

Shenzhen Foreign Languages School – Shenzhen, China

From the Dark Knight to Francis Underwood: Twenty-first Century Noir Heroes

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Zhang, Haiyi

The Experimental High School Attached To Beijing Normal University – Beijing, China

Urbanization, Tourism, and Village Life: Cuandixia Village

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Zhang, Tianren

WHBC of Wuhan Foreign Languages School – Wuhan, China

The Impact of Florence Nightingale on Sanitary Reform during the Victorian Era

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Zhang, Tongxin

WHBC of Wuhan Foreign Languages School – Wuhan, China

How Effective is Fiscal Policy in Correcting Income Inequality?

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Zhang, Zijun (Annabel)

The Experimental High School Attached To Beijing Normal University – Beijing China

Characterization of chitosan/PVA scaffolds with chitosans of different average molecular weights for tissue engineering

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Zhao, Zihao (Tony)

Shenzhen Foreign Languages School – Shenzhen, China

The Relationship Between Supercontraction, Water Content and the Mechanical Properties of Spider Silk

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Zheng, Ziyue (Mae)

Shenzhen Middle School – Shenzhen, China

Immigration: A Cure or a Curse? The Effects of Immigration Inflow on the Wages and Employment of European Residents

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Zhong, Haoyang

The Affiliated High School of South China Normal University – Guangzhou, China

Investigation of the radicalization process of Aum Shinrikyo Members

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Zhou, Chen (Andre)

Chengdu Jiaxiang Foreign Languages School – Chengdu, China

Impact of School Facilities on the Quality of Senior High School Education in China: A Quantitative Study

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Zhu, Mengwen (Jack)

Henan Experimental High School – Zhengzhou, China

Analyzing Tactile Sensory Plasticity through TISL, Attention, and Perceptual Learning Generalization

 

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AO Dialogue: Pomona College – A Small School With Outsized Possibilities [November 17, 2016 ]

Even though it’s small in size, Pomona College has a major reputation and is consistently ranked among the best liberal arts colleges in the US. It’s strong in research, resources and professional opportunities for students, and diversity in its community. This is why Pioneer Academics recently organized an Admission Officer (AO) Dialogue session for its Pioneer scholars with Assistant Dean of Admissions at Pomona College Samantha Schreiber.

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Schreiber explained why Pomona’s size shouldn’t be considered a negative factor:

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˝Many of the opportunities for students exist because of the size of the school, and we can counterbalance our small size by having the consortium of Claremont Colleges. It’s also very easy to expand your circle here. Closer relationships are more valuable than having lots of people around.˝

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Pomona is one of five undergraduate colleges and two graduate institutions that make up the Claremont Colleges Consortium. Even though Pomona has only 1663 students, there are almost 5,500 students living within a square mile radius/a 2.6 square kilometer radius, said Schreiber.

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The school is located in Claremont, only 45 minutes from one of the largest and most diverse cities in the world – Los Angeles. The location provides many opportunities for research, internships or just having fun on the weekend.

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admissionsaid4

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.Studying in Pomona

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Pomona offers 48 majors. That broad array complements the fact that students here have a wide variety of interests, academically and outside of the classroom. They really make the most of of the liberal arts concept, taking classes for fun as well as for learning for the sake of learning. Students often try different courses until they know where they want to focus their attention. This is why those who want to focus on only one field and be around people who are similar to them might not find what they are looking for at Pomona.

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Students can also choose interdisciplinary majors like STS – science, technology and society – or PPE – philosophy, politics and economics. Media studies is another interdisciplinary major coordinated among different Claremont schools.

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Pomona also lays claim to an excellent school for the arts. Students can become a serious musician or dancer, learn an instrument for the very first time, or take dance or theater.There are many opportunities to develop one’s creative side. Those who do not intend to major in theater, art, dance or music can still submit art supplements, which showcase their arts backround and artistic work to demonstrate how proud they are of their accomplishments.

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It’s also important to mention that Pioneer scholars can submit the papers they have written, and the faculty at Pomona will examine them with interest.

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anthony-shay-classroom

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Shared Resources

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The consortium enables students to cross-register and take courses in any of the Claremont Colleges. In addition to academic and faculty support, the Claremont Colleges share many resources that aid the growth and development of their students.

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The most extensive Pomona programs for research and internships are the Pomona College Internship Program (PCIP) and the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP).The PCIP was created because many internships these days are unpaid, so students have to choose between getting a job and getting important professional experience. If a student gets an unpaid internship, he can apply for the PCIP program which will pay for the internship. The program is run through the Career Development Office (CDO).

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The SURP program is used for funding research, be it domestic or international, over the summer. Students have to write up their proposal and have a faculty member sign off on it. SURP will ensure the funds to make that research happen. Over 200 students receive funding each year, and they present their experience at a poster conference in the fall.

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It’s very important to know that this is a widely available program; in fact, 45 percent of juniors and seniors receive this sort of funding. Prospecting students can find out more on the department’s website where receivers of the PCIP or SURP funding are listed along with the titles of their projects.

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admissions-slide_1

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The Student Experience

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Pomona has an enviable student-faculty ratio of eight students to one professor. This means a great deal of personal attention and face-to-face interaction with professors in class. Students are expected to be ready to participate and to engage. They are held accountable for their education and are expected to take it seriously.

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The one-on-one connection and personalization are a serious aspect of the academic experience at Pomona, even outside the classroom. Academic advising is done by the faculty, which helps students select courses and advise them on graduate programs. But the the most significant benefit they provide for students is showing them different paths to their goal. A great many students come with one idea about what they want to do, not realizing there are many ways to apply their knowledge or to accomplish their goals. It’s important that students come with open minds and explore different options before settling on one focus.

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The Sponsor Group Program and the ISMP

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The Sponsor Group allows each student to be assigned two or three class sponsors who help him with any questions.

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Pomona also offers a great deal of support for international students, such as the ISMP (International Student Mentoring Program). The program is optional. It allows international students to have a mentor, someone to talk to a to about the unique things they are experiencing while being so far away from home. Pomona’s first-year students are 12.5 percent international, while overall, international students comprise 10 percent of the population. This number is rising.

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Applying to Pomona

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There are two terms in which students can apply for Early Decision and one for Regular Decision. For Early Decision 1, the deadline is November 1st, and students learn the result on December 15th. The deadline for Early Decision 2 is January 1st, and the results are out February 15th. Regular decision deadline is January 1st, and the results come in by April 1st.

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The difference between Early and Regular Decision is that the Regular Decision option gives students more time to work on their application and explore more schools. It’s less about tactics and more about having all the information needed to make a thoughtful decision. Admission during Early Decision is binding and prevents the applicant from applying to other schools. There are no set quotas for these two terms, and those who qualify for Early Decision will also qualify for Regular. The question is whether the student is ready to make that commitment.

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internships

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Outside of the Classroom

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The largest student organization is called On the Loose (OTL). It runs programs almost every weekend to get students off campus and out into nature. The programs are all funded by the school because Pomona’s primary concern is that students have opportunities regardless of their financial situation.

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The Draper Center for Community Partnership is here to connect students to the surrounding community. A majority of Pomona’s students will at some point perform some community volunteer work like tutoring school children or helping in afterschool programs. April 7th is a big day for community service; the entire college is encouraged to engage in projects sponsored by the school.

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The Career Development Office (CDO) can meet students as soon as they set foot on campus and helps them find opportunities through the Claremont Connect website. The CDO has partnerships with different conosortia in this field which helps them find opportunities for students. Their staff is dedicated to specific areas like internships, graduate programs, and job programs, helping students at every stage of their career.

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Most students also attend career fairs, and a great many companies come to Claremont because it has five schools and a subsantial pool of highly qualified students.

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Schreiber finished her presentation by inviting Pioneer scholars to check out Pomona’s YouTube channel to learn more about the school and Pomona’s blog ‘Voices’ where students post their experiences.

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˝We also have interns and senior interviewers at our office,” Schreiber said, “whom you can contact online if you have questions.˝

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Important Note: Colleges’ and universities’ admissions departments do not endorse any program, organization or company. Any type of organized communication with admissions officers should not be construed as an endorsement of the communication organizer.

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Pioneer Academics and Oberlin College Announce Partnership in Offering a New Approach to Online Education [October 11, 2016 ]

Monroe Township, N.J. — Pioneer Academics, the leading online academic research program for high school students, and Oberlin College, a premier American liberal arts college, today announce a partnership in offering a new approach to online education. Starting in 2016, Ohio-based Oberlin will grant course credit and provide an Oberlin transcript to Pioneer students upon their completion of the Pioneer Research Program. Additionally, Pioneer students will be granted access to Oberlin’s library resources and scholastic databases, including the music library of Oberlin’s world-renowned conservatory and the art library associated with the Art Department and the College’s Allen Memorial Art Museum, one of the top collegiate art museums in the U.S.

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This bold initiative is a key step in furthering Pioneer’s commitment to providing high school students with unparalleled academic research opportunities otherwise unavailable to them. Pioneer students will now have the backing of a premier American liberal arts college behind their Pioneer research pursuits, and will be able to use their work with Pioneer to further their education in ways which were not previously possible. The Oberlin College credit and formal Oberlin transcript, which Pioneer students will receive, can be transferred to colleges, universities, or other academic institutions—pending approval—in which they enroll later in their careers. Access to Oberlin’s library resources will place a world-class, comprehensive collection of texts, videos, music, art, and other academic materials at students’ fingertips, a privilege rarely enjoyed at the high school level.

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Pioneer and Oberlin share a deeply rooted commitment to providing high-level educational opportunities to talented, intellectually motivated students of all backgrounds. Oberlin was the first college in the U.S. to adopt a policy to admit students of color, as well as the first to create a coeducational undergraduate program. Pioneer’s fully online platform allows the Pioneer Research Program to draw students from all parts of the world. Additionally, through Pioneer’s generous need-based scholarship program, students of all backgrounds are able to benefit from all the program has to offer.

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“As an academic institution which has always prided itself on pushing the boundaries of higher education and ensuring that educational opportunities are equally available to all, we are looking forward to working with Pioneer to offer first-rate research opportunities to high school students around the world,” says Tim Elgren, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Oberlin. “Pioneer’s unique online model which allows students to participate in the program regardless of where they live, as well as the extraordinary quality of the research opportunities which Pioneer is able to offer its students, were powerful factors in our decision to partner with Pioneer.”

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“We are honored to have Oberlin’s support and backing, and are excited to be able to enhance the value of the Pioneer Research Program with Oberlin’s course credit and comprehensive library resources,” says Matthew Jaskol, Pioneer’s academic director. “Oberlin is unique in that it is home to an internationally-acclaimed music conservatory and a world-class art museum in addition to its outstanding College of Arts and Sciences. This diverse blend of educational opportunity at a single liberal arts institution embodies the all-encompassing view of education we take at Pioneer. Additionally, our mission to attract all outstanding students, regardless of background, exactly aligns with Oberlin’s longstanding dedication to access, inclusiveness and diversity in selecting its student body. I am looking forward to joining Oberlin in furthering this mission, and working together to provide the best academic experience for our students.”

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About Pioneer Academics

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Pioneer Academics offers undergraduate-level research opportunities to talented, intellectually motivated high school students from around the world. In the Pioneer Research Program, students work one-on-one with leading U.S. university professors in advanced study and research of a topic of their interest, culminating in a full-length research paper. The program is conducted entirely online, allowing high school students from all over the world to participate. More than 270 students from 18 countries and regions have participated in the program in the past three years.

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About Oberlin College

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Ranked consistently among the nation’s top liberal arts schools, Oberlin College is committed to rigorous academics, artistic and musical excellence, and social justice. Founded in 1833, Oberlin was the first institution of higher education in America to adopt a policy to admit students of color (1835) and the first college to award bachelor’s degrees to women (1841) in a coeducational program. Oberlin’s distinct history of challenging intellectual and social conventions shapes the student experience today, which fosters strong bonds among a diverse community of bright and talented students from around the world.

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Contacts:

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Robert Wittenburg, Pioneer Academics, LLC

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www.pioneeracademics.com / robert.wittenburg@pioneeracademics.com

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Scott Wargo, Oberlin College Scott.Wargo@oberlin.edu

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A Recap of Our July 23 PODS Discussion with Peter Hauet – Finding the College That Fits You Best [July 28, 2016 ]

On July 23, Pioneer hosted its first PODS – Pioneer Open Dialogue Seminar – session of 2016. Logging in from nine locations around the globe, more than 30 Pioneer students and parents joined us in a dynamic discussion of a topic weighing on all of their minds – applying to college. The discussion, led by International Association for College Admission Counseling founding member and veteran college counselor Peter Hauet, centered on how to identify and apply to one’s “best-fit” college as well as other pointers about preparation for and success in college and beyond. Take a look at some of the invaluable advice shared during the discussion:

1. Eliminate stress from the college application process: Start the process early – or at least on time. If you’re entering your senior year, you should be working on your essays right now. Keep a notebook with you to jot down ideas related to college essays which occur to you through the day; when you sit down to write the essays, you can refer back to those thoughts. Don’t procrastinate! Also – make sure to make time for physical activity and exercise – this will make you a better student and make you less stressed. Parents – don’t add stress to your child’s college application process with comments like ‘if you don’t get into X school I’m not paying your tuition’ – there is enough pressure on your child when he/she is applying to college as it is.

2. Show interest in your chosen college – properly: Don’t be a ‘mosquito,’ constantly bombarding admissions officers with emails – they will not appreciate this. Instead, be sure to attend any information sessions for that college when their admissions representatives are in your city, and make sure they know you attended (filling out the attendance cards they provide is a good way to do so). Visit the school, unless your financial situation or another legitimate reason prevents you from doing so. Last but not least, focus on building a connection with someone at the college of your interest, and follow up with them.

3. It’s not all about the rankings: Who determines the order in which colleges are ranked? What criteria are considered in the rankings? The “number one” school may not be number one for your individual needs. There are about 4,000 colleges in the U.S. – the difference in quality among the top 100 schools is infinitesimal. Additionally, most of the top 100 individuals in terms of net worth in the United States did not attend ultra-high ranked schools, but rather large state schools.

4. Have “the money talk” with your parents: College is expensive, and it is critical to be realistic about your financial needs. Have an honest, open discussion with your parents about your financial situation early in the college application process. Consider the effects of your future college’s tuition on your parents (and siblings, if you have them), and don’t forget about expenses beyond tuition, such as the cost of living in your future school’s area. Neglecting to have such a discussion can cause stress further down the line, and can prevent you from being able to attend schools to which you are accepted if you are unable to pay the school’s tuition.

5. Don’t forget about grad school: In this day and age, your educational career is likely to extend past college. Focus less on the “name value” of the college you’re applying to – “name value” is more important in a graduate school than a college. Your choice of undergraduate institution is not nearly as important as doing well once you’re there.

6. Think outside the box – and outside the country: Though the U.S. offers an abundance of high-caliber colleges, there are an increasing number of English-language programs available in other countries as well. Places like the Netherlands, Germany, Singapore, and even Japan offer top-notch undergraduate degree programs, taught in English. These are high quality programs, offered at a fraction of the cost of a U.S. undergraduate education.

7. Engage in community service which is personally meaningful: Community service refers to anything that helps your community, large or small – though it must be broader than babysitting for your family. Don’t do community service because you think it ‘looks good’ – do community service that changes you as a person and affects your worldview. Make sure you choose community service work that clearly demonstrates your passion. For instance, if you love basketball, help coach a local children’s basketball team rather than volunteer at a nursing home unless you see the value in it.

8. Need-based scholarships – only apply if you need them: Applying for a need-based scholarship unfortunately decreases your chances of acceptance to any college to which you apply – even those that claim to be need-blind. As such, only apply for a need-based scholarship if you need one.

Thank you once again to Mr. Hauet for sharing his wisdom with our group!

*A note about the discussion: in offering the opportunity to hear from and speak with Mr. Hauet, our one and only goal was to provide valuable information to consider in the college application process. This event was not a promotion of any kind. Pioneer unequivocally does not participate in or advocate for any consulting business or college counseling service. Mr. Hauet is retired and is not involved in any type of paid college counseling.

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Pioneer Research Journal Showcases Work of Top High School Students [March 18, 2016 ]

Pioneer Academics is pleased to announce the publication of the 2015 Pioneer Research Journal, a showcase of the work of select Pioneer Scholars, outstanding, academically-driven high school students from around the world who participate in the Pioneer Research Program.  The articles featured in the 2015 journal, Pioneer’s second, are the final product of the Scholars’ undergraduate-level research completed in the Pioneer Research Program, accomplished under the mentorship of distinguished American professors.

Each paper published in the journal was required to pass a rigorous evaluation process to qualify for publication. Only Scholars who received a program grade of A- or higher and were nominated by their Pioneer professors were eligible for publication. Nominated papers were each submitted anonymously to a contributing reader, a professor familiar with the paper’s research area. Papers which passed the contributing readers’ reviews were accepted for publication, though only after the papers’ authors implemented any edits deemed necessary by the contributing readers.

The papers cover a wide range of research areas, from a look at the neuroscience behind the increased propensity of adolescents to take risks, to the expansion of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, to a look at the effects of Greece’s economic situation on the European Union, to the proving of the Nyquist-Shannon sampling theorem. The geographic distribution of the authors featured within the Journal is broad as the range of topics. This year, the authors come from Spain, South Korea, the United States, the United Kingdom, Turkey, and China.

With the tutelage of their Pioneer Research Program professor-mentors, who are educators at top American colleges and universities, Pioneer Scholars master critical research skills usually taught at the college level: determining a research topic, locating sources, and forming cohesive, structured arguments to defend research results. The program begins with small group seminars, each capped at four students and taught by a Pioneer professor-mentor. The topic is an area of the professor’s interest and expertise.  Each student then works one-on-one with the professor in cutting-edge study about that topic. The final product is the research paper, an academic milestone for the Scholars. The professors evaluate the Pioneer participants’ work and work ethic with the rigorous academic standards of their respective institutions.

The Pioneer Research Program offers 22 areas of study, among them neuroscience, international relations, philosophy, chemistry, literature, and art history.  Almost 300 students from 18 countries and regions have participated in the program in the past three years.

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Nominees for Publication in the 2015 Pioneer Academics Research Journal [December 31, 2015 ]

Pioneer is pleased to announce the nominees for publication in the 2015 Pioneer Academics Research Journal!

The Journal, published annually, showcases the work of select Pioneer Research Program participants, academically driven high school students from around the world. It is a collection of these participants’ Pioneer research papers – the final product of the students’ undergraduate-level Program research. The Pioneer Academics Research Journal Committee, a panel of distinguished professors from leading American undergraduate and graduate institutions, will evaluate each nominated paper and determine which will be published in the Journal.

The papers, and the Program research, are academic milestones for many of the nominees. “It was everyone’s first time experiencing a college-level research project,” says nominee Sooah Kang of South Korea, indicating her Pioneer classmates as well as herself. “Before I went into the program, I had never really experienced this kind of individual project,” echoes Eren Kafadar of Turkey, another nominee.

Under the guidance of their Pioneer professors, all leading educators at top American colleges and universities, the students mastered critical research skills, such as determining a research topic, locating sources, and forming cohesive, structured arguments to defend research results. “My readings, reflections, and discussions constantly reshaped my perspective, and my professor never ceased to inspire me” reflects nominee Ziqi Ma of China. “I think Pioneer was a good gateway and entryway into the kind of research that I will get to do in university,” adds nominee Timothy Wee, who comes from Singapore.

The 2015 Pioneer Academic Research Journal student nominees are listed below. Their research papers represent the top 20% of papers written in the Pioneer Research Program’s academic year of 2015.


Nominees


Cherise Cao


Tianjin No. 1 Middle School – Tianjin, China


The Role of Apps in Disrupting Global Healthcare*

Xiangting Chen


The Affiliated High School of South China Normal University – Guangzhou, China


The Dynamics of Movie Selection: a Study of Social Contagion using the Revised SI Model Based on Word of Mouth

Trang Duong


Blair Academy – Blairstown, NJ, USA


Iran’s Theocratic Government and its Transformation of Democracy

Beril Erdogdu


Robert College – Istanbul, Turkey


A Discussion of the “Subject”: René Descartes, David Hume, Edmund Husserl

You Jin Jung


Korea International School – Seoul, South Korea


Adolescent Decision Making: Neuroscientific Basis of Risk Taking Behavior in the Developing Brain

Eren Kafadar


Robert College – Istanbul, Turkey


The Effect of Diffraction Slit Structure on Reciprocal Space

Sooah Kang


Seoul International School – Seoul, South Korea


The Role of Apps in Disrupting Global Healthcare*

Zhimin Lin


The Affiliated High School of South China Normal University – Guangzhou, China


Which Model is Feasible for Hong Kong? A Comparison among the Democracies in Britain, Mainland China, and Hong Kong

Yige Liu


Beijing No. 4 International High School – Beijing, China


The Difference between Oversampling and Undersampling the Proving of Nyquist Sampling Theorem

Matthew Lo


University High School – Irvine, CA, USA


Textual and Visual Appeals in The New Yorker Performing Arts Advertisements

Raquel López-Ríos de Castro


IES San Mateo – Madrid, Spain


The Charged Coupled-Device (CCD) Era

Sicheng Luo


Hangzhou Foreign Language School – Hangzhou, China


Accelerated or gifted education——Which one is a better fit for Chinese students?

Ziqi Ma


The High School Affiliated with People’s University of China – Beijing, China


Transformation of the meanings of arts and crafts in China and Australia

Jonathan Mak


Chinese International School – Hong Kong, China


Pesticides and Endocrine Disruptors. Understanding the molecular mechanism by which some pesticides (Aldrin, DDT, Mecoprop) act as endocrine disruptors

Yu Que


The Affiliated High School of South China Normal University – Guangzhou, China


Sense and Sensibility of Artificial Intelligence: When Machines Can Think

Amanda Rabin


Pine Crest School – Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA


Brain controlled Prosthetics

John Sheng


Woodside Priory School – Portola Valley, CA, USA


Transhumanist Memory Uploading Through the Lens of McConnell’s Experiments

You Shu


Hangzhou Foreign Language School – Hangzhou, China


The Analysis of Hybrid Electric Vehicles and Their Economics

Yuyang Song


The High School Affiliated with People’s University of China – Beijing, China


Cecilia Gallerani: Flemish Influence on Leonardo da Vinci’s Innovative Portraiture, Use of Chiaroscuro and Symbols

Darren Tong


Chinese International School – Hong Kong, China


Hukou, Development, and Fairness

Yuan Wang


The Affiliated High School of South China Normal University – Guangzhou, China


Sensation, Perception and Judgment in Descartes

Timothy Wee


Shanghai Community International School – Shanghai, China


Biology (Macromolecular Machines)

Yilin Wen


Chengdu Foreign Language School – Chengdu, China


The Motif of Culture: The Costume Culture of the Yi ethnic group of Liangshan

Sibei Wu


The High School Affiliated with People’s University of China – Beijing, China


Is Greece’s Crisis in the Eurozone a “Tipping Point” in the Development of the European Union? The Challenges and Opportunities in the Greek Crisis and the Fate of Europe’s Integration

Siwei Xie


Beijing No. 4 International High School – Beijing, China


The Role of Apps in Disrupting Global Healthcare*

Hugo Taro Blázquez Yamagishi


IES San Mateo – Madrid, Spain


Aerobic Exercise Effects on Hippocampus Roles

Hongkang Yang


Shenzhen Middle School – Shenzhen, China


Imidacloprid: General Information and Unintended Effects

Shuying Yang


Beijing No. 4 High School – Beijing, China


Should the Dragon follow the Eagle? Economic Development of the People’s Republic of China and the United States of America during the post-World War Era

Jiahong Yi


The High School Affiliated with People’s University of China – Beijing, China


The Influence of Leadership Worldview on Russian Foreign Policy: Putin’s Worldview Shift from Pragmatism to Civilizationism

Rong Yu


Wuhan Britain-China School at Wuhan Foreign Languages School – Wuhan, China


The Role of Apps in Disrupting Global Healthcare*

Ashley Zhang


Crean Lutheran High School – Irvine, CA, USA


Women Uniting on the Web: Social Media Contributions Against Gender-Based Violence in Turkey

Jingyi Zhang


Beijing No. 4 High School – Beijing, China


Report on Pioneer research project on Fibonacci numbers and visual proofs

Yueting Zhang


The Affiliated High School of South China Normal University – Guangzhou, China


Russia and India: The Road to Advancement and Modernization

Peicheng Zou


Wuhan Britain-China School at Wuhan Foreign Languages School – Wuhan, China


The Probabilistic Method in Graph Theory*

*Denotes a paper co-authored by multiple students

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Staying True to Yourself While Applying to College [December 22, 2015 ]

Admission to America’s leading colleges and universities has metamorphosed into a storm cloud of stress and pressure, enveloping thousands of high school students who apply to these institutions each year. For months – or even years – these students have persevered through a ceaseless barrage of grueling study, practice tests, and essays as they have prepared for college and the upcoming four years of their lives. Regrettably, in this high-pressure environment, many students have sacrificed their passions. They’ve opted instead for pursuits they believe will appeal more strongly to admissions officers.

Is this the best approach to college preparation? Could a pursuit of one’s real interests aid not only in crafting a standout application but to greater rewards in life?

“Ask yourself ‘what do I want to do?’ or ‘what do I care about,’ says Luccas Borges, a Pioneer Scholar from Chicago who received an early action acceptance to Yale University last week. “When I was doing things I cared about, it didn’t feel like work. My love for those pursuits drove me to go farther with them than anyone expected, and farther than I would have gone for some fabricated interest I thought would get me into college.” Xinyue Zhuo, a Pioneer Scholar from Beijing, China, who received an early decision acceptance to Columbia Unversity, agrees. “My true passions are sustainable development and public policies. I strongly believe that only when you follow your true passions and stay true to yourself can you stand out.”

Other Pioneer Scholars also emphasized the role Pioneer played in their pursuit of their passions and in determining exactly where their passions lie. “I have always been interested in economics, says Rong Yu, a Pioneer Scholar from Wuhan, China who received an early decision acceptance to Washington University in St. Louis. “Through Pioneer I was able to delve deeply into healthcare economics, and I truly enjoyed it. Though I haven’t decided on a field for my college major yet, the research work sparked my interest in many areas and I will enjoy exploring these areas in college and beyond.” Gabrielle Davis, a Pioneer Scholar from Asheville, North Carolina, who was accepted into Emory University, shares similar sentiments. ‘I have had a fascination with the brain (and emotions) since middle school. I stuck to my passion by doing the Neuroscience course through Pioneer and spending summers volunteering in labs at Emory. I think this really helped strengthen my application to a strong research institution like Emory showing how I was focused and staying dedicated to my true passion.’

These are just a few examples of the rewards one can gain from following their passions. As these Pioneer scholars demonstrate, the pursuit of one’s true interests and one’s college applications need not be at odds.

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Three NEXT-GENIUS Olympiad Finalists Awarded Full Scholarships to Pioneer Research Program [December 18, 2015 ]

Congratulations to Pranav Khemka, Arya Sarda, and Prannv Dhawan! For their outstanding performance in the 2015 NEXT-GENIUS Olympiad, Pranav, Arya, and Prannv have been awarded full scholarships by Pioneer Academics for the 2016 Pioneer Research Program, a global program which enables high-achieving high school students to develop undergraduate-level research under the guidance of American university professors.

NEXT-GENIUS, based in Mumbai, is India’s first critical thinking competition for students ages 14-18. This year, 17,600 students competed in the contest, known as the NEXT-GENIUS Olympiad. Pranav, Arya, and Prannv all placed in the top 1% of contestants, and were selected from a shortlist of just 21 contestants deemed eligible for the Pioneer scholarship.

With Pioneer, the three winners will have the chance, while still in high school, to pursue undergraduate-level study of subjects that interest them. They will be able to delve into these subjects with support and guidance from U.S. university professors who are experts in the fields – and as the Pioneer Research Program is conducted entirely online, they will be able to do so without needing to leave India.

“We are very pleased to accept these three talented NEXT-GENIUS finalists as Pioneer Scholars, and to be able to bring Pioneer’s world-class, high level research opportunities to high school students in India,” says Matthew Jaskol, Pioneer’s Academic Director.
Congratulations to Pranav, Arya, and Prannv! We are looking forward to working with you in February!

About Pioneer:
Pioneer Academics offers undergraduate-level research opportunities to talented, intellectually motivated high school students from around the world. In the Pioneer Research Program, students work one-on-one with leading U.S. university professors in advanced study and research of a topic of their interest, culminating in a full-length research paper. The Program is conducted entirely online, allowing high school students from all over the world to participate. More than 270 students from 18 countries and regions have participated in the Program in the past three years.
To learn more about Pioneer, please visit www.pioneeracademics.com.

About NEXT-GENIUS:
NEXT-GENIUS Olympiad, based in Mumbai, is India’s first critical thinking contest for teens. Through its online contest, NEXT-GENIUS Olympiad identifies brilliant problem solvers from across India.
To learn more about NEXT-GENIUS Olympiad, please visit www.next-genius.com.

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Take a look: Carnegie Mellon Admissions Officer reveals a new side of CMU [December 16, 2015 ]

A group of Pioneer Scholars learned about Carnegie Mellon University’s (CMU) steadfast commitment to interdisciplinary scholarship, the hidden charms of its arts and humanities programs, its unique research opportunities, and practical application tips. And they did not learn these from a campus visit or a website!

Instead, on August 20, 22 high-school students in the Pioneer Research Program, signing in from around the world, had the extraordinary opportunity to engage in an online dialogue with Associate Director of Admission, Keith Bryner. He joined the meeting from Carnegie Mellon’s campus in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Pioneer scholars joined from six different countries, including the United States, China, Korea, the Philippines, Spain and Turkey.

This article lists little known aspects of CMU by summarizing Mr. Bryner’s presentation and answers to the questions posed by Pioneer scholars.

What makes Carnegie Mellon unique:

Interdisciplinary education

“Our computer scientists are artists; our engineers are social scientists. Our students live in interspatial moments between fields. That is where innovation occurs,” said Mr. Bryner. In talking about how many institutions have strong academic programs, he said that none connect these fields together in such an interdisciplinary way as Carnegie Mellon does.

Work ethic

Mr. Bryner explained that the school’s slogan – “My heart is in the work” – embodies its community. This spirit, instilled by the school’s two self-made industrialist founders, Andrew Carnegie and Andrew Mellon, is part of the institution’s DNA. Such a strong work ethic, when combined with its interdisciplinary focus, means, “All of our students graduate with a problem-solving degree” said Mr. Bryner.

Diversity

With students from all 50 American states and 65 countries, “Diversity of the student body allows for all manner of learning to occur beyond the classroom,” said Mr Bryner.

Other unique aspects of Carnegie Mellon:

With 131 separate research centers, Carnegie Mellon gives undergraduates almost limitless opportunities for interdisciplinary research. For example, in the Integrative Design, Arts and Technology Network (IDeATe), students and professors work with Google on making the first “Internet of Things campus.”

Carnegie Mellon has very strong post-graduation outcomes. 85% of students from the graduating class of 2014 at the time of graduation were en route to a job, to graduate school or to a service program.

The social life at the school is very diverse. With over 280 clubs, no one group dominates campus social life. While there is an overriding pride in being a “Tartan,” there is room for every group and interest to thrive in the school community.

Students engage in some of the world’s most cutting edge research. One way Carnegie Mellon does this is through cultivating public-private partnerships. For example, Uber is partnering very closely with the school to research and develop self-driving cars.

Carnegie Mellon provides unique research programs to prepare undergraduate students to engage in high-level, cutting edge research. For example, freshmen can receive Small Undergraduate Research Grants (SURG) to conduct independent research and then present their findings at the Meeting of the Minds Symposium, a conference for undergraduate research.

Tips for applying to Carnegie Mellon:

It is possible to transfer between Carnegie Mellon’s six colleges once admitted, but some schools are harder to transfer into than others. For instance, the School of Computer Science is always one of the most competitive. For the more competitive schools, it may be helpful to apply to them as a freshman because it is always easier to transfer out than in.

You don’t have to be a “tech person” to apply. Carnegie Mellon has ample opportunities in every field and looks for students with all types of interests. Having a student body of diverse intellectual passions can provide the community with unique perspectives that inform and lead to greater innovation.

Pioneer would like to thank Mr. Bryner for his clear articulation and elaboration. The dialogue’s participants gleaned new insights into the school. Due to limited space in the live session, we hope that Pioneer scholars who could not join can benefit from this summary article. Those who are interested in CMU are encouraged to follow up with or get in contact with Mr. Bryner directly or through info@pioneeracademics.com

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Research Study of Leading Chinese Professor Produces Interesting Guidelines for High School Students. [November 25, 2015 ]

Beijing, Nov. 25 — ‘Tis the season!  High school guidance counselors worldwide are in their seasonal cave, not hibernating, for sure, but rather diligently, obsessively helping students apply for admission to US colleges.  Till January, little else is on their radar screen. All the more extraordinary, then, that the college guidance staff of all of Beijing’s elite high schools cleared their calendar to spend the evening of November 16 with Professor Ziwen Lu. Dr. Lu is one of China’s leading experts on critical thinking, and he presented his findings on a unique program for high school students.

 

Professor Lu conducted a year-long study to answer this question: What is the impact on Chinese students who conduct research through the Pioneer Global Research Program? Pioneer is the only program in existence which allows outstanding high school students across the globe to collaborate one-on-one with leading American professors in college-level research online. The collaboration ends in an academic paper in one of a broad range of subjects.

 

Also in attendance was Dr. Tim Elgren, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Oberlin College & Conservatory in Ohio, and three of his college administrators. Dr.Elgren is a leading education expert in promoting innovative liberal art education. He believes that though Professor Lu’s study was conducted on Chinese students, the findings would benefit US students as well.

 

Professor Lu’s research pointed to two profound learning trends.  The first is the enormous value of one-on-one structured academic mentorship.  The second is that guided goal-setting is essential to maximize the value of an educational experience.

 

Participating in Professor Lu’s study were 30 randomly selected Pioneer participants. Dr. Lu ’s surveys ran throughout the entire course from before the student participants started the first session to after they completed their research papers.  64% of the surveyed Pioneer scholars hoped to increase their competency in the skills of research and academic writing. Of them, 82% believed they achieved significant results in both areas.

 

Surprisingly few of the surveyed Chinese students had focused on improving skills in critical thinking or in international communication. Yet the results in those areas were dramatic. Dr. Lu points out the need for Pioneer to provide greater guidance in setting objectives in order to augment the impact of the experience.  That conclusion might be extrapolated to other educational experiences, though Dr. Lu did not address that possibility.

 

Professor Lu’s findings were corroborated by Pioneer’s Academic Director, Matthew Jaskol. With videos of several students, Mr. Jaskol showed that students who had accepted, internalized, and could articulate the goal of broadening and applying their analytical thinking skills were all top performers, with no exceptions.

 

Professor Lu is planning follow-up studies of the Pioneer Academics program, which will endeavor to incorporate the professor’s suggestions for increased meta learning — setting broader goals and becoming more self-aware of the learning process.

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