These are two of the many highly talented teens honored by fellowships from the Davidson Institute for Talent Development.
John Michael Colón, Age: 17 – His portfolio, Art as Empathy: A Study of the Syncretic Potential of Literature, demonstrates the utility of literature and art in society.
He writes that although human beings want to communicate their fundamental experience, this worldview is too ineffable to express directly; art and literature articulate this on a visceral level.
John Michael proposes through art and literature, the expression of ideas can help tame the tendency to dehumanize others by helping us see their ideas the same way we see ours, inspiring empathy.
Anna Kornfeld Simpson, 17 – developed a chemical-detecting robot. She used porous silicon, a material that changes color in the presence of chemicals like alcohols or nerve gas, and simple, low-cost circuit elements to detect color change.
The robotic microcomputer then “sees” the chemical instead of “smelling” it. Prototypes had a 100 percent response rate. Anna’s work has applications in security and counterterrorism, monitoring industrial settings for toxins, and exploring locations too hazardous for humans.
Profiles and photos from Davidson Fellows – 2010.
Related book: Genius Denied: How to Stop Wasting Our Brightest Young Minds, by Jan and Bob Davidson, with Laura Vanderkam.