Saturday, November 22, 2008

Daily Vocabulary Building Reading

About a month ago, when my younger son was preparing for PSAT, I started sending him daily news article that uses SAT level vocabularies. Most articles are from New York Times. Their website has a nice feature that you can double click on a word, then a window pops up to show the dictionary entry for the word.

I have enjoyed the experience of reading and selecting articles. Authors include Nobel Prize winner, Paul Krugman and Pulitzer prize winner, Maureen Dowd etc. A new page, Daily Vocabulary Building Reading, is started on this website to collect the entries.

I welcome your feedback. If you like to receive these daily articles, I am happy to include anyone in my mailing list.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Young Computer Scientists

I was asked how my older son got into programming and computer science.

He took the C programming series at the Stanford EPGY when he was in middle school and took AP Computer Science AB at high school freshman year.

At 9th grade, he got interested in competing at USACO, He went through part of the training and competed all four years and was able to advance to the gold division.

He also participated in competitions. They are for professionals but also hold high school competitions. My son is still an active participant.

USACO and TopCoder generally have the best problems. There are other online judge systems with lots of problems at and

His experience in programming has allowed him to work as summer interns at Microsoft and Google. He had enjoyed working at both places. The jobs have also been a big help in paying his college tuition :-)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Opening Lines from Essays of Stanford's Class 2012

This is an interesting article from the latest Stanford Magazine. The admission officers shared some of their favorite opening lines of college application essays from students who were admitted.

Yu Min-Hong's Speech at Beijing University

My friend Yanqiu forwarded me this link. She thinks this speech is very similar to Steve Job's "Stay Hungry, stay foolish" speech at Standford. It also tells EQ/AQ is more important than IQ. The speech is in Chinese.

Monday, September 01, 2008

New Selectable SAT Score-Reporting Policy

Quoted from college board, "The College Board has approved an important change to the current SAT score-reporting policy. This new policy will give students the freedom to send the scores by sitting (test date) that they feel best represent their ability to colleges and universities, at no additional cost. Designed to reduce student stress and improve the test-day experience, this new score-reporting feature will launch in early February 2009, and will therefore be available to students participating in the March 2009 test administration."

See the whole description at

Sunday, June 15, 2008

J. K Rowling's Harvard Commencement Speech

I was deeply moved by the speech. Rowling talked about how she benefited from her failure and how important human imagination is. I wonder how my children will be if they are exposed to similar failures and experiences. Strength, courage and self assurance will be the most important qualities I hope that I have instilled in them. The whole transcript is available at Harvard magazine site.

Some of the best parts --

"So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life."

"Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people's minds, imagine themselves into other people's places."

"If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped transform for the better. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better."

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Good to Great

I gained the most insights about education from reading business books. In United States, one common way to measure an individual's success is to measure his or her achievement in business. I recently read the book "Good to Great" by Jim Collins. The book presents a 5-year research findings on 11 great companies. These companies beat general market 3 times for 15 consecutive years. The book answers what is really behind these remarkable success. It coins the term of "level 5 leaders" and "the Hedgehog concept". I quoted from the book below,

"Level 5 leaders channel their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company. It's not that Level 5 leaders have no ego or self-interest. Indeed, they are incredibly ambitious - but their ambition is first and foremost for the institution, not themselves."

"A Hedgehog Concept is not a goal to be the best, a strategy to be the best, an intention to be the best, a plan to be the best. It is an understanding of what you can be the best at. The distinction is absolutely crucial".

It is very interesting to think about how to raise kids to be level-5 leaders and to be hedgehogs? I have yet to find a parenting book to answer this question :)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Serious about Math Education III

The Art of Problem Solving website now features great Math books for students from age 2 to college. It is a simple, effective and complete sequence for developing solid math skills.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Secret of Raising Smart Kids

The best kept secret of successful parents is revealed in this Scientific American article - The Secret of Raising Smart Kids. Hint: Don't tell your kids that they are. More than three decades of research shows that a focus on effort—not on intelligence or ability—is key to success in school and in life.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Goal of Overparenting

The goal of overparenting should be to produce overachievers. Here is an article describing 10 overachievers under 21.

I am always curious about how successful kids are raised. Here are more articles on the life of young overachievers.

  1. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of
  2. Ashley Quell, founder of

  3. Ross Blake, the Firefox kid

Seattle Infinity Math Circle

There is a group of young mathematicians starting the Seattle Infinity Math Circle. They have shown impressive results in the MathCounts competition this year. Please check the website for participation.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

What College is about?

Quoted from "Excellence without a Soul", by Harry R. Lewis, Former Dean of Harvard College,
"Many professors see a liberal education as fostering as much respect for their particular academic virtuosity as for the next professor's; many parents see a liberal education as the entry to a bright future in the world of finance, medicine or law. And few students, parents, or professors see a liberal education as what it once was: a period in which young people can be freed from the presumptions and prejudices with which they were raised, freed by the power of ideas to pursue their own path in life."

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Transferring UTMA account

My husband and I handed over the UTMA account to our 18-year-old today. We think he has grown up to be a trustworthy person. It is sentimental that we officially acknowledge that he is an adult with real responsibility. We are confident that he will manage his money and use it wisely.

IQ, EQ and AQ

I am introducing an article written in Chinese here. It is a post written by Professor Sun-Yuan Kung at Princeton University. He wrote it during one of his visits to Microsoft Research Asia in Beijing. The title is "How to gain Success, Confidence and Happiness." Based on his discussions with students and young researchers there, he summerized the importance of EQ and AQ in addition to IQ. It is rare to see a concise discussion on this topic with such clarity. I enjoyed reading it very much. The post can be accessed from this URL