Concepts of derivatives and vectors intrigue Anna Osment, and she typically understands them easily. A junior in Myers Park Highs International Baccalaureate program and a straight-A student, she also uses time outside class to further her knowledge in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) classes. She was in the N.C. Summer Ventures for Science and Mathematics program for gifted high school students; was one of 16 students statewide chosen for a month-long math and science enrichment program at Appalachian State; and completed an internship at a Greenwood, S.C. genetics clinic, where she sorted blood samples, tested proteins and analyzed mutations within DNA and RNA sequences.
Anna became interested in STEM classes after her grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimers disease, she said, and wants to become a neurobiologist. Here, she offers tips:
1. Dont focus on grades ...
Students who do, tend not to slow down and learn concepts, she said. I had to forget about grades and tests, and focus on understanding the material, she said. Annas math teacher, Hema Lalwani, agrees. (Grades) are not the ultimate (measure). You need to know how it applies to the real world.
2. Or your classmates.
At Myers Park, Anna is immersed in the IB program, with more than 500 other students. One of her greatest challenges, she said, is learning not to compare herself and her grades to others.
Im in a class with a lot of really strong students. But (Ive learned) you cant compare yourself to others. Strive to be your best and improve your own work.
3. Give STEM a shot.
Anna encourages even students set on non-STEM careers not to assume theyre terrible at math and science before trying those courses. Take time to work through problems, ask teachers for help outside of class (Anna does this often) and be confident, she said.
In todays world, we really need people in STEM professions. There are so few people who are willing to try.
4. Dont fold under pressure.
Looming college applications place stress on juniors and seniors that may have not been there before high school.
I put pressure on myself. My parents have never put pressure on me. But I do feel a sense of pressure from colleges.
To help reduce stress, Anna said she practices the material a lot and balances her life with extracurriculars.
5. Find a study tool.
Find an interactive website or app to help with studying. She uses khanacademy.org, a free website that provides study resources to students, teachers and principals.
There are thousands of videos on any topic and/or subject one could possibly imagine. They show easy-to-follow, step-by-step explanations.
6. Join or create a study group but do it smartly.
Its a common suggestion, but Anna said there are tricks to success: Work in groups of no more than three people, work in a quiet environment and work with people youll have to explain things to: Teaching an idea means you fully understand the concept.
7. Dont study right after school.
Giving my brain a break prior to starting after-school work ... has led to more productivity. The break cant be too long, though. ... Sleep is just as important as getting your homework done, so balance is key.