Kaien Yang: The 14-Year-Old Genius

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Kaien Yang is 14 years old, an eighth grade student at the Nysmith School for the Gifted in Herndon, Virginia and he may have just invented a new way to save lives.

Done as a science fair project last year, Yang developed the medical app iDiagnostic. It’s an app for doctors, designed to combine MRI results with a psychometric evaluation to, hopefully, diagnose early and accurately for depression. An estimated 15 million Americans suffer from persistent depressive disorder, and it is the leading cause of suicide, as well as correlated with many other health issues.

His app won his school science fair, and went on to beat 29 other top finalists at the Marconi/Samueli Award for Innovation, an award given (along with a $10,000 grant) at the Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Tech, and Engineering for Rising Stars) competition in Washington D.C.

Yang’s interest in neuroscience set in early. When he was nine years old, he met the surgeons at John Hopkins Hospital when his mother had brain surgery, and got to pepper them with questions. When his mother recovered entirely, young Yang knew how much work and skill had gone into that, and it amazed him.

Maria-Theresa Dragg, a science teacher in Nysmith School, says that Yang often made her feel like the student in the relationship, even when he was only in sixth grade.

“I learn more from him than I feel I can offer him,” she told local news. “He is very self-motivated and wants to learn more. He won’t break from a project until he has solved the problem.” She also describes him as mature and compassionate beyond his years, going to great lengths to make sure his classmates all understand the material.

“He will go far,” she said, “and not by stepping on people to get there.”

Teacher Caught on Camera Calling Students N*****s

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Video has surfaced of a Baltimore teacher calling a classroom full of black students the N-word. The incident occurred on Tuesday, November 15, 2016 at Harlem Park Elementary/Middle School.

A distressed parent uploaded the video to Facebook, whereupon it went viral. The teacher can be seen grabbing a student by his hooded sweatshirt. She then yells at the student to “get out,” before ushering him out the door. When the student leaves, she then turns on the rest of the class, calling them n*****s and “idiots.”

“You have the chance to get an education, but you want to be a punk-a** n***** who’s gonna get shot.”

The teacher has since been fired. A statement released by Baltimore City Public Schools reads, “We are committed to creating positive and equitable learning environments in school communities where all members are welcome, supported, and valued. No form of discriminatory behavior of any kind is or will be tolerated.”

Dr. Sonja Santelises, CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools, hosted a press conference about the incident. She claims she was appalled when she first saw the video.

“In the current climate, we in city schools are very, very clear about where we stand with any kind of hate speech, any kind of obvious discriminatory language,” Santelises stated. “The behavior in that video was not about a teacher trying to regain control of the class.”

Santelises also went on to explain that while many educators struggle with classroom management, they don’t all resort to racial slurs.

The teacher, whose identity has not been released, was a second-year science teacher. Parents whose children attend the school were visibly shaken by the incident. However, they did express their relief that the teacher was fired. Some even said that if the teacher hadn’t of been fired, they would have transferred schools.

How to Breach the Subject of Trump in the Classroom

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Less than 24 hours after Donald Trump was announced the winner of the 2016 presidential election, students at a Royal Oak middle school in Michigan began chanting, “Build the wall!” A seventh grade girl captured the video on her cell phone and immediately sent it to her mother. Her mother then shared it on Facebook and the video went viral from there.

But this isn’t an isolated incident. At a school in Pennsylvania, a group of students held up a Trump sign as they walked through the hallway and shouted, “White power!”

At a high school in Minnesota, racist remarks were scribbled on the bathroom walls. One of the messages read, “Go back to Africa. Make America great again.”

Educators, school officials, and parents are horrified by the increased amount of bullying, harassment, and violence that this election has caused. But educators in particular feel like they’re at a loss. How does one condemn this kind of behavior without pushing one political agenda over another?

It’s tough, but it can be done. The best way to go about it is to talk about it from a historical standpoint. Students should learn about the slave trade, the Civil Rights Movement, the Feminist Movement, and immigration. From there, teachers can facilitate discussions about social justice.

Furthermore, educators should take the opportunity to teach students about hate crimes, which are a real, prosecutable offense. For older students, it may even be worthwhile to show video footage of hate crimes and talk about the legal repercussions that took place afterward. It’s not a fun discussion to have, but the role of the teacher is to teach, and this will help prepare students for the reality of the world we live in.

Obviously, this approach isn’t well suited for younger students. For grades K-5, it would be better to talk approach the subject from the angle of emotional well-being. Yes, consequences of bullying, harassing, or assaulting another student should be discussed, but students really need to learn how to be empathetic towards one another. That can only happen when students talk openly about how derogatory comments or actions make them feel.

Do you have any tips on how to approach this subject in the classroom? Please, share your thoughts below.

Brigham Young University Finally Takes a Stand Against Sexual Assault

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Mormon-owned Brigham Young University has long been known for their dubious handling of sexual assault reporting. Until now, it has been common for the school to closely investigate anyone reporting an assault for violations of the school’s honor code. The school’s honor code, which is mandatory for all attendees and strictly so for anyone living on campus, prohibits sexual activity and substance use, even alcohol, in keeping with the school’s religious leanings.

The school has always maintained that its honor-code investigations are entirely separate from federal Title IX inquiries (in-house sexual assault falls under Title IX). But investigations found that it was common for the on-campus Title IX office to share names and details with the honor-code office. There are also allegations that local police have also been improperly sharing information.

The result of that sharing is that a student trying to report their own assault could wind up penalized or expelled for activities unrelated to the school, even if they kept them discreet. This, of course, discouraged reports. One student who came forward was subjected to a two-month probation while she was investigated, without apology when she was eventually cleared.

After several students and alumni have come forward to the media about similar experiences, BYU has finally made a commitment to change in order to better protect its students. A faculty council has made a series of recommendations with student input, and the school seems to be listening. The names of victims are now specifically forbidden from being given to the honor code office, and an honor code amnesty clause is in progress. The university is also hiring victims advocates to provide an additional layer of confidentiality between victims and the school.

More than 200 universities across the country are currently under investigation for their handling of sexual assault on campus. It is reassuring to see one of the worst offenders taking such a large step.