The World Science Foundation recently announced the first wave of high school sophomores and juniors who will serve as 2019 Scholars, with two Indian American girls from Charlotte among the 45 named: Aakriti Lakshmanan and Saanchi Sampath.
According to the foundation, the students they are seeking for scholars have outstanding math skills, a creative mindset and a desire to network with leading scientists to solve problems.
Lakshmanan, a sophomore at Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s Ardrey Kell High, competes on various math teams and has won awards for her research on water-related science projects, according to a Charlotte Observer report.
Sampath, a Myers Park High sophomore, is a chess enthusiast who gives lessons and leads her school chess club, the report said.
The scholars will start their journey at the New York City-based World Science Festival in the summer, where scientists, artists and celebrities spend a week exploring and celebrating science in every format imaginable.
The science festival began in 2008, funded by the Simons, Alfred P. Sloan and John Templeton foundations. It has branched out to other science-related activities, with the World Science Scholars program designed to recruit talented high school sophomores and juniors to tackle projects and build a network of peers and mentors, according to the report.
“In the process, students expand their perspectives, and new pathways open along which their genius can flourish, facilitating their potential to spark revolutionary breakthroughs,” the program’s website says.
Students had to provide recommendations from parents and a teacher, and had to explain why they thought they had the talent to qualify.
Lakshmanan recalls writing about the Shoelace Theorem, a formula for finding the area of a polygon.
One of the challenges for advanced mathematical minds is connecting with peers, something the scholars program is designed to facilitate, the report added.
Before coming to Ardrey Kell High, Lakshmanan attended Metrolina Regional Scholars Academy, a K-8 charter school for highly gifted students. She says math competitions, including Math Olympiad and MathCounts, connected her with friends who shared her interest, the Observer reported.
Sampath, the only girl in her AP computer science class, was a STEM intern at Discovery Place in uptown Charlotte.
World Science Scholars are a small group of high school sophomores and juniors worldwide who have demonstrated extraordinary mathematical talent and are provided a unique opportunity to grapple with challenging ideas and explore new disciplines in which to apply their abilities, the scholar page said.
In the process, students expand their perspectives, and new pathways open along which their genius can flourish, facilitating their potential to spark revolutionary breakthroughs.
The program fosters and sustains a vibrant community of exceptionally talented math students, esteemed professors, dedicated teaching fellows, and dynamic local mentors, it added.
The accomplished group is connected in-person at the annual World Science Festival in New York City and digitally through a robust social learning platform featuring interactive online courses, as well as riveting lectures and live sessions by leading scientists, it said.