The article "Do High School Science Competitions Predict Success?" (Linda Marsa, The Scientist, April 19, 1993, page 21) is excellent but misses a very important point: Precollege science competitions are not all the same. Some are based on written examinations, some on students' essays, and some on independent scientific research. With such differences, one can well ask whether the different categories of competitions predict entry into a field--or adult occupational success in that field-- equally well.
There has not been, to my knowledge, any research aimed at answering this question. However, Harold A. Edgerton's 1973 study of Westinghouse Science Talent Search participants (Identifying High School Seniors Talented in Science, Washington, D.C., Science Service) is relevant. The study looked at that year's 300 recipients of honorable mentions, who had been selected on the basis of the quality of their research papers. The names of these 300 young people were checked against...
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