Test taking by the book Top score: Lisa Exler scored a perfect 1,600 on the SAT last year after reading a guidebook for a free-lance writing assignment.

The Education Beat

February 11, 1996|By Mike Bowler | Mike Bowler,SUN STAFF

TAKE IT FROM Lisa Exler: At least one of those books designed to prepare students for the Scholastic Assessment Test works.

Works perfectly.

Lisa, now a senior at Beth Tfiloh School in Baltimore, was doing some free-lance writing last year for the Jewish Times. One of her assignments led her to "Up Your Score: The Underground Guide to the SAT." Workman Publishing Co. in New York sent her a review copy of the guidebook's 1994 edition.

"I used it to study for my SATs," said Lisa, "and it worked out." Indeed. She got a perfect 1,600, and Workman promptly hired her to edit the book's 1996 edition, due out in June.

"We were looking for a guest editor, and Lisa was the obvious candidate," said Andrea Glickson of Workman. "We also felt there were too many male faces in the book."

Lisa said that "Up Your Score" needed some work. Some of the humor was stale, "and I put in some of my own strategies." One of those is how best to use flash cards to prepare for the SAT, she said.

Lisa has finished applying for college for this fall, and the real question is which school would have the nerve to turn her down.

Scientific show time

When Bassam Z. Shakhashiri finished lecturing at noon Thursday, and the last of 1,000 public and private school students had filed out of the big lecture room at the Convention Center, the long table in front of him looked as though it had been attacked by a class of kindergartners on lunch hour.

It was Public Science Day at the opening of the six-day American Association for the Advancement of Science convention in Baltimore, and Dr. Shakhashiri put on quite a performance -- three times over.

He filled a balloon with hydrogen and exploded it. He did all kinds of things with various chemicals, created a "plastic" bell out of plastic foam, dipped a $10 bill in alcohol and set it afire. (The alcohol burns, not the paper, but this is not recommended for home experimentation, even with a $1 bill. Indeed, part of Dr. Shakhashiri's lecture was about the limitations and hazards of science, and how to use good judgment when dealing with chemicals.)

The kids loved it. They had been bused in from all over Central Maryland (including a 320-student contingent from Baltimore high schools), and the bearded chemist from the University of Wisconsin at Madison said afterward that he loved the kids.

"He just doubled my resolve," said Tarik Barrett, a high school junior in Prince George's County, who wants to be a doctor.

Dr. Shakhashiri said he has been doing the "Science Is Fun" demonstration for 25 years "all around the country." (He also has been in charge of science education grants for the federal government.) Science education needs much better public relations, the professor said, to free it from the stereotypes that it is dull and lifeless, something to learn from textbooks, something too tough for girls and minorities.

Wearing a shirt emblazoned with "Science Is Fun," Dr. Shakhashiri said, "Only a small number of these kids will become scientists, but I'm directing my efforts at science literacy rather than scientific literacy, and there is a difference. Kids need to know that science is all around them and that people who work in science have exciting jobs.

"If we don't work on kids' attitudes toward science, the country's in danger of losing its pre-eminence in the world and becoming second or third rate."

Fitzpatrick back in U.S.

Trivia time: What do these four accomplished people have in common?

Peter Angelos, Robert Fitzpatrick, Kweisi Mfume and Barbara Mikulski.

The answer in a moment, but first a few words about the one you may not know: Bob Fitzpatrick.

A rising star in Baltimore in the early 1970s, he was named dean of students at the Johns Hopkins University in 1972, at age 32. But Dr. Fitzpatrick didn't stay in Charm City. He left in 1975 to head the California Institute of the Arts for 12 years. In 1987, he was named president of Euro Disney, an amusement park in France, and oversaw its development and opening in 1992.

Now, after a period of consulting in Paris, the silver-haired Dr. Fitzpatrick has resurfaced on the East Coast as the new dean of the Columbia University School of the Arts in New York City.

And what the four people above have in common is that they all have served on the Baltimore City Council.

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