Top student to trade summer break for brain-powered boost
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Shane Treadway is a smart kid. Real smart. So smart, he’s headed to study at one of the top U.S. universities this summer. Never mind he hasn’t graduated from high school — and won’t for at least a year.
The 16-year-old Kubasaki High School junior is the only student from Department of Defense Dependents Schools Pacific selected to attend the 2003 Research Science Institute at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass. With 69 other students from around the world, he’ll give up six weeks of his summer to join a mentor in a research project at the university.
“I briefly thought about giving it to the runner-up,” Shane said. “That’s going to be six weeks out of my summer when I could be with my friends. But my teachers talked me out of it and I’m glad. I think this is going to be awesome.”
Only 70 students are accepted for the program from across the United States and around the world. Only three are going from U.S. military base schools, including one from Quantico, Va., and another from Hanau, Germany.
When Shane gets to MIT in June, he’ll be partnered with a professor or researcher for a research project. He’ll attend lectures and do four weeks of research and preparation. The final week, he’ll help present his findings.
“It might be a little intimidating,” admitted Shane, whose mother, Barbara Treadway, is a teacher at Kinser Elementary School on Okinawa. “But I think it’s going to be great. ... I think it’s going to give me a huge advantage when I apply for colleges next year.”
Not that Shane’s high school transcripts are hurting: He carries a 4.0 average in advanced- placement courses such as calculus, biology and physics — classes normally reserved for the brightest of seniors. At this pace, Shane’s senior year will consist of distance learning courses to keep him challenged.
“He’s got a natural ability in the field of mathematics,” said Diane Bishop, Shane’s AP calculus teacher. “I’m sure that’s not the only field he excels in.”
“He goes beneath the surface of course material,” Bishop said. “Most students can crunch the numbers and come up with the answers, but Shane goes into depth of how and why it works the way it does. Not all students do that.”
Shane’s outgoing personality may work well for him. Students accepted for the program essentially are isolated on MIT’s campus; family visits are forbidden except in extreme cases.
But it won’t be all work. He will get an opportunity to take in a bit of Boston’s Beantown flavor. Trips to the Boston Pops, a baseball game at Fenway Park and even a camping trip are in the works. And he might get in a bit of summer fun on his own.
“I still might make a road trip with some friends after the research project is over,” Shane said. “We’re thinking of heading down to the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee.”
Shane says he knows this summer could well decide his future. He’s already visited college campuses in Oregon and Colorado. This summer at MIT, though, might give him the edge he needs.
“I know I don’t want to do a research project in biology,” Shane said. “I’m hoping I can get a project with computers or maybe physics or chemistry.”
Not exactly an average 16- year-old’s summer dreams.
But then, indications are that Shane is anything but your average 16-year-old.