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6 Teens Who Are Way Smarter Than You

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By Lauren Hansen

Did you pass Britain's bar exam at 18? Yeah, I didn't think so.

1. The youngest ever to pass Britain's bar exam

It's safe to say Gabrielle Turnquest (above) is one serious smartypants. The Florida native graduated from Liberty University in Virginia with a psychology degree at the age of 16. She then went on to study law in the U.K., where this year, at the age of 18, she became the youngest ever to pass Britain's bar exam. (The average age of test-takers is 27 years old.)

But Turnquest isn't stopping there. The motivated teen hopes to qualify as a lawyer back home in America as well as in the Bahamas, the country of her parents, and ultimately become a specialist in fashion law.

2. The pre-teen studying medicine

In 2003, Sho Yano became the youngest student to study medicine at the University of Chicago School of Medicine. Not even technically a teenager, the 12-year-old had already notched accomplishments above and beyond his mere dozen years. By age three he was playing Chopin on the piano and composing original work by four. By age eight he had scored a 1,500 out of a possible 1,600 points on his SATs, and started college the next year. He went on to graduate summa cum laude from Chicago's Loyola University in just three years before starting medical school.

And just last year, Sho completed his degrees at the ripe old age of 21, becoming the University of Chicago's youngest M.D. ever. "I guess it's a good feeling to be the youngest, but it doesn't feel like something particularly unusual to me," Sho told the Chicago Sun Times. "It's just what I've done."

3. The teen paving the way for safer nuclear energy

Nuclear power could arguably help free the U.S. from its dependence on fossil fuels, but there's once catch: It's environmentally risky, as anyone from Fukushima will tell you.

Enter Taylor Wilson. The 19-year-old has designed a smaller, modular fission reactor that is not only less expensive to run, but also safer to operate. Wilson's design is reportedly 15 percent more efficient than today's reactors, and would require refueling every 30 years instead of the current rate of every 18 months.

Wilson says his design would do no less than combat climate change, bring affordable power to the developing world, and power rockets to explore space. You know, no big deal. And if you're wondering what kind of cred this wunderkind has, Wilson was able to achieve nuclear fusion at the age of 14 — the youngest person ever to do so. "This could be the source of energy that provides carbon-free electricity," he has said.

4. America's youngest lawyer

Stephen Baccus wanted to be a lawyer so badly that he petitioned the Florida Supreme Court to waive a state law that says only contracts signed by those 18 years or older are valid. In 1986, Baccus, who graduated from college at age 14 with a degree in computer science, passed the Florida state bar on his 17th birthday. "I could have waited until I am 18, but I didn't want to,"he told the Miami News at the time.

With the court ruling in his favor, Baccus became the youngest lawyer in modern American history and went on to start his own firm. After seven years building his law career, Baccus changed gears. Eager for the humbling challenges of science, the one-time child genius earned a doctorate in neuroscience from the University of Miami. "If money was my primary motivating factor I might have different career plans, but it's not," he told the Associated Press in 1999 after graduation. "I'm interested in doing something interesting to me."

5. The youngest to win the MacArthur "genius grant"

You can't apply for the MacArthur fellowship. You can't even be nominated for it. The five-year, no-strings-attached grant is gifted one day out of thin air. The so-called "genius grant" is typically awarded to between 20 and 40 Americans of any age, working in any field, who show "extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits." And in 1984, David Stuart got the phone call that would make him the youngest fellow in the foundation's history. "I was dumbfounded," Stuart told the Harvard Crimson at the time. "The call came out of the blue."

The 18-year-old expert in Mayan archaeology had been studying ancient scripts since he was three years old. At the age of 14, Stuart published his first paper, "Some Thoughts on Certain Occurrences of the T565 Glyph Element at Palenque." He went on to publish two more papers before graduating high school and being accepted as a junior fellow in pre-Columbian studies at the Washington, D.C., research branch of Harvard University. Previously, the youngest MacArthur winner was a 22-year-old physicist.

6. The teen prodigy battling pancreatic cancer

One of the many unfortunate characteristics of pancreatic cancer is that it is usually caught too late to save the patient. After a family friend died of the disease, Jack Andraka decided to devote himself to making a better early-detection test. The solution came to him during his freshman biology class and the teen set to work. He read free online journals and anything that came up in Google searches to develop a plan and a budget. He sent proposals to about 200 laboratories requesting to use their facilities. He received only one acceptance letter from Dr. Anirban Maitra at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Andraka worked at the lab after school, on weekends, and over holidays to develop his test, which he submitted to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair ("the Olympics of science fairs," he said). The 15-year-old's final product proved to be 28 times faster, 26,000 times less expensive, and 100 times more sensitive than the current diagnostic tests. Andraka earned the fair's highest prize, including the $100,000 pot.

Sources: Associated Press (2)(3), BradAronson.com,Chicago Sun TimesHarvard CrimsonMiami NewsSmithsonianTech News Daily,The Telegraph


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Barbie Is Now Giving Coding Lessons
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Mattel wants to help 10 million kids learn to code by 2020, and the toy giant is enlisting one of its most career-focused assets: Barbie. According to Engadget, Mattel is working with the coding education company Tynker to make seven Barbie-themed computer programming lessons.

Barbie has been a pilot, an architect, the president, and a computer engineer, so there may be no better character to teach kids the joys of coding. The lessons, arriving in summer 2018, will be designed for youngsters in kindergarten and up, and will teach Barbie-lovers more than just how to make apps. They’ll use Barbie’s many careers—which also included veterinarian, robotics engineer, and astronaut—as a way to guide kids through programming concepts.

An illustration depicts Barbie and her friends surrounded by cats and dogs and reads 'Barbie: Pet Vet.'

A screenshot of a Barbie coding lesson features a vet's office full of pets.

There are plenty of new initiatives that aim to teach kids how to code, from a Fisher-Price caterpillar toy to online games featuring Rey from Star Wars. This is the third partnership between Mattel and Tynker, who have already produced programming lessons using Hot Wheels and Monster High.

Kindergarten may seem a little soon to set kids on a career path as a computer programmer, but coding has been called “the most important job skill of the future,” and you don’t need to work for Google or Facebook to make learning it worthwhile. Coding can give you a leg up in applying for jobs in healthcare, finance, and other careers outside of Silicon Valley. More importantly for kids, coding games are fun. Who wouldn’t want to play Robotics Engineer Barbie?

[h/t Engadget]

All images by Tynker

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15 Heartwarming Facts About Mister Rogers
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Though Mister Rogers' Neighborhood premiered 50 years ago, Fred Rogers remains an icon of kindness for the ages. An innovator of children’s television, his salt-of-the-earth demeanor and genuinely gentle nature taught a generation of kids the value of kindness. In celebration of the groundbreaking children's series' 50th anniversary, here are 15 things you might not have known about everyone’s favorite “neighbor.”

1. HE WAS BULLIED AS A CHILD.

According to Benjamin Wagner, who directed the 2010 documentary Mister Rogers & Me—and was, in fact, Rogers’s neighbor on Nantucket—Rogers was overweight and shy as a child, and often taunted by his classmates when he walked home from school. “I used to cry to myself when I was alone,” Rogers said. “And I would cry through my fingers and make up songs on the piano.” It was this experience that led Rogers to want to look below the surface of everyone he met to what he called the “essential invisible” within them.

2. HE WAS AN ORDAINED MINISTER.

Rogers was an ordained minister and, as such, a man of tremendous faith who preached tolerance wherever he went. When Amy Melder, a six-year-old Christian viewer, sent Rogers a drawing she made for him with a letter that promised “he was going to heaven,” Rogers wrote back to his young fan:

“You told me that you have accepted Jesus as your Savior. It means a lot to me to know that. And, I appreciated the scripture verse that you sent. I am an ordained Presbyterian minister, and I want you to know that Jesus is important to me, too. I hope that God’s love and peace come through my work on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

3. HE RESPONDED TO ALL HIS FAN MAIL.

Responding to fan mail was part of Rogers’s very regimented daily routine, which began at 5 a.m. with a prayer and included time for studying, writing, making phone calls, swimming, weighing himself, and responding to every fan who had taken the time to reach out to him.

“He respected the kids who wrote [those letters],” Heather Arnet, an assistant on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2005. “He never thought about throwing out a drawing or letter. They were sacred."

According to Arnet, the fan mail he received wasn’t just a bunch of young kids gushing to their idol. Kids would tell Rogers about a pet or family member who died, or other issues with which they were grappling. “No child ever received a form letter from Mister Rogers," Arnet said, noting that he received between 50 and 100 letters per day.

4. ANIMALS LOVED HIM AS MUCH AS PEOPLE DID.

It wasn’t just kids and their parents who loved Mister Rogers. Koko, the Stanford-educated gorilla who understands 2000 English words and can also converse in American Sign Language, was an avid Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood watcher, too. When Rogers visited her, she immediately gave him a hug—and took his shoes off.

5. HE WAS AN ACCOMPLISHED MUSICIAN.

Though Rogers began his education in the Ivy League, at Dartmouth, he transferred to Rollins College following his freshman year in order to pursue a degree in music (he graduated Magna cum laude). In addition to being a talented piano player, he was also a wonderful songwriter and wrote all the songs for Mister Rogers' Neighborhood—plus hundreds more.

6. HIS INTEREST IN TELEVISION WAS BORN OUT OF A DISDAIN FOR THE MEDIUM.

Rogers’s decision to enter into the television world wasn’t out of a passion for the medium—far from it. "When I first saw children's television, I thought it was perfectly horrible," Rogers told Pittsburgh Magazine. "And I thought there was some way of using this fabulous medium to be of nurture to those who would watch and listen."

7. KIDS WHO WATCHED MISTER ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD RETAINED MORE THAN THOSE WHO WATCHED SESAME STREET.

A Yale study pitted fans of Sesame Street against Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood watchers and found that kids who watched Mister Rogers tended to remember more of the story lines, and had a much higher “tolerance of delay,” meaning they were more patient.

8. ROGERS’S MOM KNIT ALL OF HIS SWEATERS.

If watching an episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood gives you sweater envy, we’ve got bad news: You’d never be able to find his sweaters in a store. All of those comfy-looking cardigans were knitted by Fred’s mom, Nancy. In an interview with the Archive of American Television, Rogers explained how his mother would knit sweaters for all of her loved ones every year as Christmas gifts. “And so until she died, those zippered sweaters I wear on the Neighborhood were all made by my mother,” he explained.

9. HE WAS COLORBLIND.

Those brightly colored sweaters were a trademark of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, but the colorblind host might not have always noticed. In a 2003 article, just a few days after his passing, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote that:

Among the forgotten details about Fred Rogers is that he was so colorblind he could not distinguish between tomato soup and pea soup.

He liked both, but at lunch one day 50 years ago, he asked his television partner Josie Carey to taste it for him and tell him which it was.

Why did he need her to do this, Carey asked him. Rogers liked both, so why not just dip in?

"If it's tomato soup, I'll put sugar in it," he told her.

10. HE WORE SNEAKERS AS A PRODUCTION CONSIDERATION.

According to Wagner, Rogers’s decision to change into sneakers for each episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was about production, not comfort. “His trademark sneakers were born when he found them to be quieter than his dress shoes as he moved about the set,” wrote Wagner.

11. MICHAEL KEATON GOT HIS START ON THE SHOW.

Oscar-nominated actor Michael Keaton's first job was as a stagehand on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, manning Picture, Picture, and appearing as Purple Panda.

12. ROGERS GAVE GEORGE ROMERO HIS FIRST PAYING GIG, TOO.

It's hard to imagine a gentle, soft-spoken, children's education advocate like Rogers sitting down to enjoy a gory, violent zombie movie like Dawn of the Dead, but it actually aligns perfectly with Rogers's brand of thoughtfulness. He checked out the horror flick to show his support for then-up-and-coming filmmaker George Romero, whose first paying job was with everyone's favorite neighbor.

“Fred was the first guy who trusted me enough to hire me to actually shoot film,” Romero said. As a young man just out of college, Romero honed his filmmaking skills making a series of short segments for Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, creating a dozen or so titles such as “How Lightbulbs Are Made” and “Mr. Rogers Gets a Tonsillectomy.” The zombie king, who passed away in 2017, considered the latter his first big production, shot in a working hospital: “I still joke that 'Mr. Rogers Gets a Tonsillectomy' is the scariest film I’ve ever made. What I really mean is that I was scared sh*tless while I was trying to pull it off.”

13. ROGERS HELPED SAVE PUBLIC TELEVISION.

In 1969, Rogers—who was relatively unknown at the time—went before the Senate to plead for a $20 million grant for public broadcasting, which had been proposed by President Johnson but was in danger of being sliced in half by Richard Nixon. His passionate plea about how television had the potential to turn kids into productive citizens worked; instead of cutting the budget, funding for public TV increased from $9 million to $22 million.

14. HE ALSO SAVED THE VCR.

Years later, Rogers also managed to convince the Supreme Court that using VCRs to record TV shows at home shouldn’t be considered a form of copyright infringement (which was the argument of some in this contentious debate). Rogers argued that recording a program like his allowed working parents to sit down with their children and watch shows as a family. Again, he was convincing.

15. ONE OF HIS SWEATERS WAS DONATED TO THE SMITHSONIAN.

In 1984, Rogers donated one of his iconic sweaters to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

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