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Where to put DS's science fair projects on applications?


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#1 lewelma

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 10:25 PM

DS did two massive science fair projects in 7th and 8th grade totaling 150 hours each, and each winning major high school level awards at the regional science fair. He won the math award and the methodology award for the entire grade 7 to 12 regional science fair (in addition to many other awards, 1st in class, 1st in sociology, tied for 1st in atmospheric and oceanic science, tied for 1st in geosciences.) Most people have said that I can include them on his application because he won high school awards, even though the projects were done in middle school.  I've put the two major awards in his awards section (but not the other ones listed above), but I feel like the titles of the projects don't do them justice, and I would like to put in a 3 sentence description of what he actually did. I feel like although he is a big math kid, these science fair projects show off that he is also a science kid. And the projects he did were incredibly creative (who studies oceanic longshore transport of sand experimentally in 7th grade?!? and then models the movement of beaches based on weather? It was a crazy nutty awesome project that I would like to highlight.  Same with his timing of the traffic lights project). So where might I put these descriptions?  

 

1) with the award on the award's page?  

2) in the course descriptions?

3) somewhere else? like a separate page with a half page description of each?

4) No description, just list the award and title on the award page.

 

This is what I currently have under the awards section.  Currently without descriptions of the projects, just a note that it contained both data collection and modelling.

 

Mathematics Award. NIWA Regional High School Science Fair. 2012. Awarded to the most imaginative and effective project at the regional fair that used mathematics or statistics.

Project: The Beaches are Moving: modelling longshore transport of sand based on wind speed and direction. Project contained both experimental data collection and the development of a mathematical model.

 

Methodology Award. NIWA Regional High School Science Fair. 2013. Awarded to the project with the most difficult measurement situation and creative solution at the regional fair.

Project: Red Light, Green Earth: Saving time and carbon emissions via traffic light coordination. Project contained both experimental data collection and the development of a mathematical model.

 

 

What do you think?

 

Ruth in NZ


Edited by lewelma, 29 April 2017 - 10:27 PM.


#2 regentrude

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 10:27 PM

I would not include any awards from middle school on the college application. I don't imagine colleges want to see accomplishments that are 4-5 years in the past - even if that was high school level stuff. It's too long ago.

ETA: Also, reporting old accomplishments may raise the question why the student has not pursued anything similar during high school.


Edited by regentrude, 29 April 2017 - 10:29 PM.

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#3 JanetC

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 11:18 PM

I feel your pain. My kid also won a bunch of impressive stuff for an eighth grade science fair project. It kills me to leave it off, but it doesn't belong on a college app.
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#4 lewelma

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 11:19 PM

Yes, but he won high school awards - big ones.  How is that different than putting Algebra 1 and Mandarin 1 on his transcript?



#5 lewelma

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 11:21 PM


 

ETA: Also, reporting old accomplishments may raise the question why the student has not pursued anything similar during high school.

 

I've thought about this, but he has Math awards for the other years.  I don't expect there are tons of kids who do high level stuff in two fields at the same time.  Yes there are a few, but very few that I have ever read about.  



#6 JanetC

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 12:03 AM

Yes, but he won high school awards - big ones. How is that different than putting Algebra 1 and Mandarin 1 on his transcript?

I do get about "big ones."

My kid won Outstanding Use of Statistical Thinking and a couple other division awards for grades 7-12 at the state level, and later was a Broadcom MASTERS semifinalist. The latter is for middle schoolers, but national. Top 10% of grades 6-8 of all state and regional fairs are invited to apply: roughly 20,000 eligible, 6,000 go through the daunting application process, less than 300 semifinalists. Probably the most selective honor she will ever win in anything in her K-12 career.

It's still just a middle school extracurricular. Doesn't count, other than the experience helped her learn and grow.

And it's not like your son has nothing to show for his high school years.
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#7 Sebastian (a lady)

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 01:47 AM

I agree it isn't something done during high school, but I think you could mention it in the school profile or counselor recommendation.

It could provide context about why you ended up homeschooling the way you did.
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#8 lewelma

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 04:06 AM

Don't want to be argumentative, but I know that not everyone agrees as I have had others on this board tell me that because it is a high school award, he can put it on his list of awards.  "High school awards earned before 9th grade", just like Algebra 1 is completed before 9th grade. What is the rational for leaving it off? DS made it into the IMO camp the first time in 8th grade and I have that listed. Leave that off too? He was the only 8th grader in the country to make it in. I think that these 8th grade awards tell part of the story.

 

ETA: Ok, I'm trying to take Sebastian's line of thinking.  What is the story?  Basically, I'm a scientist, not a mathematician.  I could teach him about science, and how to do a large scale science project, but both of these projects turned from experimental projects to mathematical modelling projects because of his interest and motivation to direct them that way.  It was in 7th grade that he started to study for the IMO camp selection problems, and this was the time period where his interests moved away from mine (science) and towards his own (math). He could not do both well, so he chose math. Is this the story? And if so, do I want to tell it?  It is of value?


Edited by lewelma, 30 April 2017 - 04:23 AM.


#9 Lilaclady

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 07:44 AM

Don't want to be argumentative, but I know that not everyone agrees as I have had others on this board tell me that because it is a high school award, he can put it on his list of awards. "High school awards earned before 9th grade", just like Algebra 1 is completed before 9th grade. What is the rational for leaving it off? DS made it into the IMO camp the first time in 8th grade and I have that listed. Leave that off too? He was the only 8th grader in the country to make it in. I think that these 8th grade awards tell part of the story.

of value?


I think the rationale is that he is not currently doing anything in science to back up what he had done in middle school.
There are kids who are doing Math Olmpiad and also some science olympiad- either physics, chemistry, biology etc. they are doing both in high school and can highlight what they had done in middle school to show consistency and long term effort.

Your ds did great projects in middle school but he is not doing science projects in high school- they might wonder why.
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#10 plansrme

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 08:26 AM

I think there's some over-analyzing going on here.  Is putting massively-impressive high-school (++) level projects and their corresponding awards on a college app really going to make an admissions committee think, "What a slacker this guy is.  Reject pile."  It's not like he has nothing on his resume since then, i.e., like he got a really good start and then spent his high school years playing Minecraft.

 

I vote for inclusion on the basis that if I were the adcom, I would want to know.  It's not like his middle school science fair project was a poster on how to prevent heart disease.  It was real science and math.  It's relevant.


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#11 regentrude

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 08:51 AM

Don't want to be argumentative, but I know that not everyone agrees as I have had others on this board tell me that because it is a high school award, he can put it on his list of awards.  "High school awards earned before 9th grade", just like Algebra 1 is completed before 9th grade. What is the rational for leaving it off? DS made it into the IMO camp the first time in 8th grade and I have that listed. Leave that off too? He was the only 8th grader in the country to make it in. I think that these 8th grade awards tell part of the story.

 

The reason to list algebra 1 before 9th grade is that some colleges specifically look for this course name to check a box. It goes without saying that a student who took algebra 2 in high school must have taken algebra 1 at some point. There is no extra information contained in listing it.

 

I see IMO as something completely different because he is still pursuing this line of interest.

If the science fair projects had been the beginning of a continued science activity throughout high school, I could see a point in listing them, to demonstrate the long term interest and commitment. 

 

In the end, you do whatever you decide; I am sure it is fine either way.

 

 


, and this was the time period where his interests moved away from mine (science) and towards his own (math). He could not do both well, so he chose math. Is this the story? And if so, do I want to tell it?  It is of value?

 

It is valuable, but I think the better place for this "story" would be the counselor letter, not the transcript.


Edited by regentrude, 30 April 2017 - 08:54 AM.

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#12 JumpedIntoTheDeepEndFirst

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 09:06 AM

Don't want to be argumentative, but I know that not everyone agrees as I have had others on this board tell me that because it is a high school award, he can put it on his list of awards.  "High school awards earned before 9th grade", just like Algebra 1 is completed before 9th grade. What is the rational for leaving it off? DS made it into the IMO camp the first time in 8th grade and I have that listed. Leave that off too? He was the only 8th grader in the country to make it in. I think that these 8th grade awards tell part of the story.

 

ETA: Ok, I'm trying to take Sebastian's line of thinking.  What is the story?  Basically, I'm a scientist, not a mathematician.  I could teach him about science, and how to do a large scale science project, but both of these projects turned from experimental projects to mathematical modelling projects because of his interest and motivation to direct them that way.  It was in 7th grade that he started to study for the IMO camp selection problems, and this was the time period where his interests moved away from mine (science) and towards his own (math). He could not do both well, so he chose math. Is this the story? And if so, do I want to tell it?  It is of value?

 

 

I would be careful about how you present this story.  You want it to be his story and interests not your story or him appearing to be pushed by your interests.  Perhaps you can link his early interest in science and evolving interest in math to what he wishes to pursue in college.


Edited by JumpedIntoTheDeepEndFirst, 30 April 2017 - 03:23 PM.

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#13 EKS

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 09:19 AM

I would leave them off of the official EC list, but I would find a way to incorporate them into either your counselor letter or his essay (or some other place).

 

For example, my son (who is currently a robotics engineering major at a fairly selective college) was a member of a robotics club in middle school and the relationship he had with the mentor of the club was a defining experience for him.  He didn't put the robotics club in the EC part of the application but he wrote his essay in part about his mentor (who, at that point, had just recently died) and his experiences in that club.  

 

I was able to mention his job at a small engineering company during his last year of high school in my letter in the context of why he chose to leave his semi-prestigious private high school midway through junior year in order to dual enroll at the CC (it gave him more time to pursue his STEM interests both in and out of school), as the job didn't make the list of ECs.

 

His viola lessons (he switched to viola in 9th grade after having taken violin for 5 years prior) also didn't make the list of ECs, so I made them into a course, and in the description for Intro to Viola, I happened to mention that the course was "designed for a student with substantial prior experience with the violin."

 

So there are a lot of ways to incorporate information, and since you said that those projects were part of the story, it should be easy to include them somewhere.  


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#14 8FillTheHeart

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 09:19 AM

It is valuable, but I think the better place for this "story" would be the counselor letter, not the transcript.

I agree with this. It is part of the story of who he is and how he progressed as a student, but the transcript is not the right place for it.

I wrote my dd's counselor letter in very strong narrative form, not professional tone. I shared literature that she had read in middle school bc it was the major influence in who she had become. So I described how she fell in love with epic poetry and had memorized large portions of certain selections. Then I went on to describe how an 1800s copy of Marmion that she had purchased with her own money when she was in 7th grade is one of her prized possessions. That background info led into describing who she is today--someone who loves all things words. Describing her love of languages and literature which further developed into a love of cultures showed how she developed as a person.

But those literature studies, which were most definitely high school credit worthy (how many 8th graders are reading Paradise Lost?), were not on her transcript. But they definitely are part of her story.

Edited by 8FillTheHeart, 30 April 2017 - 09:21 AM.

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#15 JanetC

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 09:46 AM

It was in 7th grade that he started to study for the IMO camp selection problems, and this was the time period where his interests moved away from mine (science) and towards his own (math). He could not do both well, so he chose math. Is this the story? And if so, do I want to tell it? It is of value?


I agree that this story might go in your counselor letter. My guess is that you will have a lot of stories and have to pick and choose, though.

I also agree with the suggestion to think about how you slant it. Obviously, this story is a milestone for you (turning away from what I'm good at...) but the focus of a counselor letter needs to be him.

You probably have a lot of stories besides this one about how and why your kid loves math. You need to combine those that with stories about the rest of his talents and personal qualities to present a full picture. And you have to make sure that your stories aren't the ones that affected you the most since you are not the focus, but the ones that resonate in his life.
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#16 MerryAtHope

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 02:18 PM

A slightly different opinion--I don't know what his mathematics awards are in high school, but it sounds like he has them--in my mind, the way you listed the awards above seems to highlight mathematics and logical thinking--a beginning of his mathematical interest that also represents some of his depth of thought. So, I might include them for that reason--they show a progression. However, I don't think I'd go into more depth than that--it's impressive enough on its own to see that he won high-school level awards in junior high, and I would probably want the bulk of what you present to focus on his high school accomplishments, studies, and achievement. 

 

My dd participated in regional science fairs for 3 years, and in 6th grade won the whole show (over all of the high school students) for a project on cells that she did. She plans to go into nursing. Still, even though we're really proud of what she accomplished that year, and even though it relates, her transcript only lists her high school awards. However, she did have the opportunity to mention that award in one of her scholarship essays (3 of her 6 projects were biology-related, so she was able to talk about those and how her interests in the human body developed over time, and how that relates to her desire to go on in nursing). Perhaps your son will have similar opportunities to discuss how his interests have developed over time. Regardless, these kinds of opportunities to explore interests have incredible value for our kids and are an important part of their education--listing them or not listing them doesn't take away from the value of what our students accomplished.


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#17 Sebastian (a lady)

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 03:00 PM

I don't think the story is that he used to do Science science and niendoes math. I think the story is that he has been doing high level academic work for several years, that his unique blend of homeschool work and exam based work has allowed him to progress according to his interests and abilities, and that he is looking forward to new challenges and opportunities in college.

I would discuss this in the profile and counselor letter.

This might be an example of where something like ZeeMee would be useful if the schools he's applying to will look at it.
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#18 lewelma

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 03:55 PM

Thanks guys for giving me so much to think about.

 

I'm actually really happy with my counselor letter so I don't actually want to change it. I've taken 8's advice and written it in a narrative personal way rather than formally.  I've discussed why he went into mathematics; how it took initiative, perseverance, and resiliency to get to where he is in math; and finally, how music helped him develop his collaborative and leadership skills through both his performance and group work.  

 

My plan was to put the science fair awards on the awards page, not the transcript.  I thought they were important because they show that he has done high level high school science and applied mathematics, not just theoretical math.  I think it is very important that they know that DS has done way more than the standard high school lab projects, dictated and controlled by the teacher.  He has done large creative science, dictated and driven by him. I think that this is a very important piece of the puzzle.  

 

Merry, DS placed 9th in Australia and NZ on the Australian Math Olympiad in February and represented NZ at the IMO in 10th grade.  The science fair stuff is small potatoes in comparison. However, I think it is incredibly important, not because of the awards but because of the type of work he did. The awards just validate that it was high school level work.


Edited by lewelma, 30 April 2017 - 03:56 PM.

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#19 lewelma

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 06:01 PM

What about creating a class called "Mathematical Modelling of Scientific Problems" that is a course taken before 9th grade.  So no credit towards high school diploma and grade not incorporated into GPA.  I already have Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, Mandarin 1, and Music Theory taken before 9th grade on the transcript, so this would just be one more but under the science section of the transcript.  Then I could describe the 2 projects in the course descriptions. List the awards within the course descriptions as certification of the grade, and leave it off the high school awards list. 

 

Science section would look like:

Mathematical Modelling of Scientific Problems (before 9th grade)

Physics

Advanced Physics with lab

Advanced Chemistry with lab

Advanced Biology with lab

 



#20 regentrude

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 06:34 PM

What about creating a class called "Mathematical Modelling of Scientific Problems" that is a course taken before 9th grade. ..  Then I could describe the 2 projects in the course descriptions. List the awards within the course descriptions as certification of the grade, and leave it off the high school awards list. 

 

Science section would look like:

Mathematical Modelling of Scientific Problems (before 9th grade)

Physics

Advanced Physics with lab

Advanced Chemistry with lab

Advanced Biology with lab

 

I don't think that would be of much use.

They won't know what the class means, since it is not a standard title. There's a chance they may see it is before high school and totally discount it.

You are counting on the admissions officials carefully perusing your course descriptions. They may, or they may not even open them.

 

It certainly won't do harm, but I don't think it will get much attention listed as a middle school course.


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#21 jdahlquist

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 07:55 PM

I would not include them on the high school transcript (unless they were incorporated in a science class for which I was giving high school credit for a course complete in 8th grade, and then I would include them in a course description).  I would include them in a resume or list of activities and awards If I thought that the were significant activities for a high school student and showed either a breadth of interests or a strong continuation of interest.



#22 lewelma

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 09:25 PM

I see IMO as something completely different because he is still pursuing this line of interest.

If the science fair projects had been the beginning of a continued science activity throughout high school, I could see a point in listing them, to demonstrate the long term interest and commitment. 

 

Still thinking.  If I relabeled them at mathematical modelling (which they were), are they not like the IMO camp in 8th grade because he is still pursuing his interest in math? This was a STEM fair, not a science fair, and he entered both projects under mathematics. 

 

So keep them under the awards section, don't put them on the transcript (or course listings), and brand them Applied Mathematics (which they were).  Thus awards in mathematics start in 7th grade and continue throughout high school at ever higher levels -- regional awards in 7th and 8th, national in 9th and 10th, international (hopefully) in 11th. Does this not show continuity and breadth (both applied and theoretical)?


Edited by lewelma, 30 April 2017 - 09:26 PM.

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#23 GoodGrief

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 09:28 PM

Honestly, I just don't think you need to include this. Keep in mind that the admissions officers at the schools where he is applying are going through thousands of applications. They are not going to understand the significance of those particular awards, even with the brief descriptions, and they are going to wonder why he is including middle school information.

 

He's got enough going for him that the middle school projects, impressive as they are, are going to be overkill.


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#24 wapiti

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 09:32 PM

I think that this is a very important piece of the puzzle.

 

While I've been skeptical, you feel strongly about this and so I think you should go with your gut.  I like the award page idea.  My inclination would be to shorten up the words as much as possible but keeping to what you want to convey (brand them however you want), something like:

Mathematics Award, Most Imaginative and Effective.  NIWA Regional High School Science Fair (2012).  Project:  The Beaches are Moving: modelling longshore transport of sand based on wind speed and direction. Included experimental data collection and the development of a mathematical model.

 

Methodology Award, Most Difficult Measurement Situation and Creative Solution.  NIWA Regional High School Science Fair (2013).  Project:  Red Light, Green Earth: Saving time and carbon emissions via traffic light coordination. Included experimental data collection and the development of a mathematical model.

 

I am ambivalent about that last sentence of each description and could be convinced to axe it, but you know best what you are trying to convey.


Edited by wapiti, 30 April 2017 - 10:22 PM.

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#25 lewelma

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 09:33 PM

Gr8lander, Clearly I don't understand.  He has done massive 150-hour high-school projects that won awards.  Admissions doesn't care?  Maybe it is the scientist in me that says it is different.  The IMO is about studying theoretical material, doing 4 to 9 hour exams under time pressure.  Thinking creatively about theoretical problems.  This is *very* different than getting your hands dirty and standing out in the ocean measuring sand movement in all kinds of weather, and then creating an applied model to predict how beaches move.  They are complementary.  Applied and theoretical, he has done both.  Who cares? Really?  

 

It just sounds like the IMO trumps the lot.  So nothing else matters. 

 


Edited by lewelma, 30 April 2017 - 09:36 PM.


#26 wapiti

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 10:23 PM

Thinking some more, if I were to include them, my purpose would not be to demonstrate high school work.  My purpose would be to show something about the scope of his thinking, a part of his big picture, as long as that can be communicated clearly and succinctly.  Maybe:

 

Mathematical Modeling Award, Most Imaginative and Effective.  The Beaches are Moving: modelling longshore transport of sand based on wind speed and direction.  NIWA Regional High School Science Fair, Applied Mathematics Entry (2012).

 

Mathematical Modeling Award, Most Difficult Measurement Situation and Creative Solution.  Red Light, Green Earth: Saving time and carbon emissions via traffic light coordination.  NIWA Regional High School Science Fair, Applied Mathematics Entry (2013).

 

I have never seen an app, but intuitively I would probably list awards in reverse chronological order.

 

ETA, I know you're going for the applied angle, but when I read your descriptions, what jumped out at me was "imaginative" and "creative" :)


Edited by wapiti, 30 April 2017 - 10:41 PM.

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#27 lewelma

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 10:30 PM

wapiti, I like it.  Yes, you are right, the purpose is not more high school level work, the purpose is to show breadth in mathematical work.  I agree with reverse order. If he gets a medal at the IMO this year, I'm not putting it last.  :001_smile:


Edited by lewelma, 30 April 2017 - 10:31 PM.

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#28 wapiti

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 09:28 AM

A discussion from CC on this topic http://talk.collegec...ard.html#latest