2009 Catalyst Participants

Saudi Arabia Ministry of Education

Two additional groups added significantly to the Catalyst program this year. Four Saudi citizens joined us — three Scholars (Abdullah Al-Ghamdi, Khalid Al-Ghamdi and Nawaf Al-Ghamdi) and a delegate (Ahmad Al-Ahmary) from the Saudi Ministry of Education, whose specialty is in gifted education. This collaboration began with a conversation between Prof. Abdullah Aljughaiman from the Teachers College in Al Ahsa and CGEP director Rena Subotnik. Professor Aljughaiman attended a presentation on Catalyst at the European Council on High Ability and initiated a discussion of possibly expanding Catalyst to Saudi Arabia as a self managed program targeting Saudi students. To get a feel for the program, top students from Saudi Arabia applied to Catalyst as Scholars and participated on every level, from the summit to the development of their own personal year long projects. These students went through the same rigorous application process as their American counterparts, applying to individual Catalyst Masters based on interest in their subfields and completing short answer and essay questions on their interest in science, their ability to apply their knowledge to a critical thinking question and to demonstrate mastery not only of English but also of the advanced mathematical and scientific concepts that would be essential to success in the program. Mr Al-Masri served as a cultural chaperone and observed the inner workings of the Catalyst program in the hopes that it could be translated to something similar in Saudi Arabia.

The second group new to Catalyst included undergraduate students (Tony Song, Nick Choksi, Stephanie Chen, Hanah Stuart, Quentin Kim and Macy Sullivan) and a fellow faculty member (Malica Paranosic) from The Juilliard School who came with Arts Master Stephen Pier as part of a mentorship program put on by the school for artistic outreach and collaboration. Mr. Pier has participated as a Catalyst Master previously (2007) and upon being invited again, proposed that Catalyst would be a wonderful opportunity for the Juilliard students to achieve interdisciplinary goals. The Juilliard contingent acted as “Associates” at the Summit, participating in all events and talks and offering enlightened observations as artists interested in science and the natural world. The presence of so many professional and pre-professional artists enhanced Catalyst 2009-2010’s exploration of the process of innovation and creativity.