Team:Tec-Monterrey EKAM/Detect


Biotechnology for Talented Kids

Talented children are generally well supported in developed countries. Special programs are set in place to find them amongst the general student population and then give them an education suited to their capabilities. Sadly, that is not the case in developing nations such as Mexico.

The first national efforts towards helping gifted children began a few years ago with a ‘speed’ program that let students advance one school year after passing a competence test. As usual in this country, that solution is near-sighted and mostly useless. What talented kids need is an education that advances continuously at their speed of learning and which takes advantage of their innate curiosity and love of knowledge, not a simple ‘one –year ahead’ pass to be redeemed just once at your nearest school (One coupon per person. Subject to restrictions.).

Other efforts towards encouraging children with higher capabilities to endure the mire of normal education have been set up by the government and civil association: Math Olympics (and, more recently, Physics Olympics too). There are three problems with this strategy. First, it is an event –discrete, limited and circumscribed to no more than a few days a year-, it is not an on-going development program nurturing students’ talents. Second, it selects students who are already good at math and simply polishes them through competition –no room for capable kids who want to learn advanced mathematics. And last, as it is limited in time and reach, it is also limited in scope: why just math (or physics)? Why are the other areas of learning left behind when dealing with talented children? Is it because of the myth that only savant-like mathematical prowess is indicative of a brilliant mind? It is a horrendous waste of human resources to channel all gifted students to fit preconceived notions of what ‘geniuses’ are.

Having all of these issues in mind, and having suffered personally the lack of options available to a young student eager to learn concepts beyond the limited school curricula, we set out to offer a solution. Through SyBRE (the student group we founded) we’ve developed a community service called DETECT (Spanish acronym for ‘Detection of Talented Students’). DETECT is a program aimed to detect gifted children and bring them to the Biology and Chemistry areas. Starting this October, we’ll be visiting local schools and applying a battery of IQ tests to students from all basic grades. After selecting the highest scores, those children will be interviewed with their parents and offered to participate in the program.

DETECT classes will be held on Saturday mornings on our university Campus. Groups will be formed according to previous knowledge of the area and will never have more than five students per instructor. We’ll take the students from basic biology and chemistry up to molecular biology, biochemistry, organic chemistry and genetic engineering. Advancement through the subjects will be at the maximum pace the students can handle in order to keep them challenged. In order to keep the continuous effort that this program will require, we’ve applied for DETECT to be included in ITESM’s Community Social Services system. When approved, it will mean that, as long as there are college students in the Campus willing to mentor gifted children (not just from SyBRE), the program will continue to exist.

As DETECT develops we’ll look into establishing working partnerships with governmental authorities and civil associations so that early-entry to college education is available to the students in the program. Although there is not much of a chance of that happening in Mexico, there is always the option of talking to American universities and see if they would be willing to help. It will all depend on the advancement shown by the first generations of DETECT alumni. It is our driving hope to be part of the formation of the first 12-year old Biotech major in México.