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Homeless Student Is Intel Talent Search Semifinalist 464

Posted by Soulskill
from the dedication-to-science dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Samantha Garvey, a senior at Brentwood High School, has managed to become one of the remaining 300 semifinalists in the Intel Science Talent Search this year. Her research focused on mussels and on her discovery that they change the thickness of their shells if a predator such as crabs are introduced. Why is Garvey's achievement so impressive? Because she and her entire family are homeless, and rely on a local homeless shelter. Such a situation would stop many students from being able to focus on studying, let alone a research project, but Garvey has instead used her situation as motivation."
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Homeless Student Is Intel Talent Search Semifinalist

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 13, 2012 @07:44PM (#38693102)

    This is the first time in my life that a homeless person made me feel like a loser.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 13, 2012 @07:48PM (#38693146)

      I don't know why, this story is perfectly cromulent.

      Remember, a noble spirit embiggens the smallest of men. Or young women, as is the case.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 13, 2012 @07:50PM (#38693162)
      Go ahead and be crabby; she will just gain even more mussels.
    • by sjames (1099) on Friday January 13, 2012 @08:21PM (#38693458) Homepage

      You're modded funny, but it's a serious matter. Remember this next time you decide that the poor and homeless are just bums who got where they are because of their own failings. The fact is any one of us could be there and might one day end up there through no fault of our own. It is by far more likely than it is for us to join the rich crowd.

      I hope this helps lift her and her family out of their situation.

      • by Jessified (1150003) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @04:24AM (#38695866)

        I have mixed feelings about stories like this. While I hope that she is able to do something special and help her family, if she does, that only sends the message that any poor person can do so, and that they don't means they are lazy. You find one example of a person who clawed their way out of poverty and all of a sudden the countless others unable to do so are simply lazy.

        Like those you can already see in this thread...

    • by trout007 (975317)

      Most likely because they can't afford a TV and she has to read for entertainment.

      Someone ask her who Kim Kardasean is.

  • by 32771 (906153) on Friday January 13, 2012 @07:48PM (#38693154) Journal

    You guys over there need more homeless people.

  • by ackthpt (218170) on Friday January 13, 2012 @07:49PM (#38693158) Homepage Journal

    Well done of her to rise up and be counted. Amazingly, despite everything thrown at her by people who would go so far as to condemn her for the social and financial position of her family, she's using it as self-motivation. Has to be cruel to be homeless and one of the National School Lunch Program kids in a world where many children go out of their way (starving effectively) to hide the shame of their family's misfortune.

    Any candidates for public office feel like giving her parents some employment or shall we go the usual route, use her as an example the American Dream isn't dead, yet, and then abandon them for the next popular thing on the campaign trail?

  • The summary says her research is based on her family living arrangements. Is she planning on growing a shell or something?

  • So are all homeless people geniuses or have they just stumbled across one homeless person who happens to have a brilliant mind and extrapolated that finding to all homeless people?

    • by hedwards (940851)

      It's the long tail and unfortunately this kind of thing tends to be used as justification for cutting benefits for people in poverty. Because clearly if the other homeless weren't so lazy they wouldn't be homeless.

    • by jd (1658) <imipak&yahoo,com> on Friday January 13, 2012 @08:22PM (#38693468) Homepage Journal

      In all probability, homeless people will follow the same distribution curve as everyone else. That would imply that 2% of all homeless people have an IQ of 148 or above (UK's IQ scale, use your local Mensa entry requirement to figure out what's equal to that) and that 30.9% [conferenceboard.ca] would be able to complete a degree program if given the opportunity.

      The Great Source of Wisdom [wikipedia.org] says that there's up to 2 million people in the US who are homeless at any given time, some on a more permanent basis than others. It's a fair bet that even the transients aren't really able to get into a university though.

      That would give you 40,000 people of Mensa-level intelligence and around 618,000 people who would be able to complete further education. Finding one person of either level of ability shouldn't be that hard or even unusual - 40,000 people can't be easy to miss and well over half a million should be blatantly obvious.

      Now, the median income of people with a bachelor's degree [ed.gov] was 40K in 2009. That's the 25% tax bracket. So, the government is losing 10K per year per person who could have a degree but doesn't, which works out to $6.18 billion just from lost income tax revenue. That's ignoring anything such people might invent or contribute to society (and it's clear from even the one example that these are people who are just as able to contribute as anyone) along with all the money the government could collect from businesses as a result of such contributions. That's a hell of a lot of money to be throwing away. I like pragmatic socialism (note the "pragmatic" part) and social justice, so naturally I want fewer homeless people for those reasons. Particularly because I'm pragmatic - that's over half a million potential innovations that won't happen, over half a million potential entrepreneurs that won't get to start anything... Yes, there will always be homeless and the country can't afford to take care of everyone, we all know that, but this goes well beyond what is sane or rational. The desire to be seen as anti-socialist has become moronic and self-destructive.

      Nobody can help everybody, but $6bln aught to be more than enough to cover the costs of helping far, far more than we are.

  • by Bitsy Boffin (110334) on Friday January 13, 2012 @07:53PM (#38693192) Homepage

    America (I'm addressing you as a whole).

    How is it that you allow young people, let alone whole families, to be homeless, to live in "shelters".

    WTF is wrong with you people?!

    You are supposedly the most powerful nation on earth, the wealthiest, the nation that is spoken to exude opportunity and success from every pore.

    And you have whole families, school children, living in homeless shelters.

    I don't care how they came to be in the situation, it doesn't matter how that happened, what matters is resolving it, providing the social, housing, and financial support to ensure that every body can call somewhere home.

    For every one remarkable individual like this who manages to overcome the adversity, I hate to think how many are dragged down by the circumstance.

    • by Ouchie (1386333) on Friday January 13, 2012 @07:56PM (#38693230)

      Income inequality is just envy. - Mitt Romney

    • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Friday January 13, 2012 @08:02PM (#38693290)
      America (I'm addressing you as a whole).
      How is it that you allow young people, let alone whole families, to be homeless, to live in "shelters".


      Name the country that does not have homeless people. Not saying the US does not have problems (oh hells yes we do!), but there are homeless everywhere.
      • by 10101001 10101001 (732688) on Friday January 13, 2012 @08:21PM (#38693460) Journal

        Name the country that does not have homeless people.

        Yea, that's telling 'em. America, the great and power, is just as powerless as everyone else to resolve a social problem that may be unsolvable. Of course, America isn't really interested in solving that social problem. I don't mean this as a slander or an insult. It's precisely the belief in a sort of Social Darwinism that has made the US such a great power (it also helps that it has a lot of natural resources and a climate that readily allows for most of their extraction, a relatively large amount of space which keeps down the cost of living in most the country, and an effective imperialist agenda not unlike many other empires of the past which might have more to do with it) that keeps a lot of social reform discussion from even coming up; I mean, why fight against a gifted horse just to help a few people? Then there is...

        Not saying the US does not have problems (oh hells yes we do!), but there are homeless everywhere.

        Hunger is everywhere. Vaccinatable childhood diseases are everywhere. A need for high-speed travel for the movement of both goods and people exists everywhere. The desire for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness exists everywhere. I guess we can't actually do anything about any of the above then, though. I mean, the US has problems...like homelessness..so we can't actually discuss working to fix homelessness. That's some master deflection; how about at least trying in the slightest to offer a few valid ideas on why homelessness can't be eradication entirely? That'd probably be an actually valid argument. Of course, that still leaves the potential of homeless almost being entirely eradicated (ie, that the few special cases that show homelessness is inherently inevitable doesn't explain not dealing with homelessness for the vast majority of the homeless).

        • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Friday January 13, 2012 @09:24PM (#38694064)

          Let's hear your great idea on how to fix homelessness. The GP made a very valid point: It is everywhere, including countries that are far more socialist than the US. It seems that humans haven't figured out a way to fix it. So maybe we shouldn't whine so much about needing to fix it because maybe we can't. That doesn't mean we should ignore it, that doesn't mean we shouldn't have safety nets (like, say, shelters) but this crap of "Oh how come America hasn't fixed homelessness?" is stupid.

          If you've got some magic fix for it, then let's hear it. If not then quit with the "America should be able to fix it!"

          It is one of those things that you can work on, we should work on, and we do work on. It isn't something you can solve. So bitching that it hasn't been is stupid.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Fri13 (963421)

            The fix is socialism... But it is a tabu among most US citizens who are brainwashed to believe socialism is here to take your wealthy and forces you under government control where you can not choose who is your doctor or where your kid goes school....

            In social society, people take care of each other. They give what they can not use or dont need, to those who have needs. They do what they can with their powers to help others. It is not just you give money or you say "here is your apartment, live there". But

      • by sjames (1099) on Friday January 13, 2012 @08:28PM (#38693532) Homepage

        Most western nations will provide at least a flat to their poor. The only homeless they have are people whose psychiatric problems cause them to refuse the help. The U.S. really is dead last amongst the 1st world.

        • by forkfail (228161)

          But that still makes up top of the third world!

        • by Darinbob (1142669)

          I remember walking through Osaka and stumbling upon the mostly hidden homeless camp chock full of people. Most of the time you do not see anyone who looks even poor much less homeless. I wasn't sure if these people just hid away from embarrassment of being jobless or if there was an active "western nation" style of trying to explicitly hid them away from view.

          And yes, most western nations have homeless people, even those who are proud of pointing out how socially forward they are. The homeless are just b

    • by ackthpt (218170) on Friday January 13, 2012 @08:03PM (#38693298) Homepage Journal

      America (I'm addressing you as a whole).

      How is it that you allow young people, let alone whole families, to be homeless, to live in "shelters".

      WTF is wrong with you people?!

      You are supposedly the most powerful nation on earth, the wealthiest, the nation that is spoken to exude opportunity and success from every pore.

      And you have whole families, school children, living in homeless shelters.

      I don't care how they came to be in the situation, it doesn't matter how that happened, what matters is resolving it, providing the social, housing, and financial support to ensure that every body can call somewhere home.

      For every one remarkable individual like this who manages to overcome the adversity, I hate to think how many are dragged down by the circumstance.

      There are those who are homeless in America by choice (live in one of the larger cities in California and you'll know what I mean), many of them prefer the freedom to ru(i)n their own lives for substances or alcohol. I'll give them food, but no money.

      There are those who are homeless due to misfortune - lost of job, breadwinner in family, foreclosure of house loan, etc. These people are not at the bottom of the barrel, but without some form of assistance they could be there. There are shelters and federal and state programs to help them - often those still living in their cars are due to some failure to abide rules or restrictions of shelters. Where I work we track about 1,000 of these families. It's not a small issue, but those people, like this student have a good chance of getting back into a place they can call their own when the economy bounces back.

      • by hedwards (940851)

        I had a coworker briefly that was doing that. On what we were making I couldn't blame him for that, I'm sure he was a lot more comfortable that way than worrying about having money for rent, and with a job he had the option of staying in a motel during cold snaps.

        The bigger question though is why in a country that's so wealthy we tolerate people living on the streets out of necessity. We have the money to ensure that those folks have at least rudimentary shelter and yet we choose to provide very little.

      • by mutube (981006) on Friday January 13, 2012 @08:59PM (#38693848) Homepage

        There are those who are homeless in America by choice.

        You mean, psychiatric patients for which there is inadequate support? Yes. I've seen a lot of those on the streets in America.

        Or individuals who have suffered abuse in the poorly regulated and underfunded state welfare system? Yes, lots of those too.

        But you're right... they prefer it like that. I assume you've spoken to them too?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DriedClexler (814907)

      Oh, puh-f'in-leeze. As if there aren't homeless on the streets, probably more, in every other OECD country.

      • by deanklear (2529024) on Friday January 13, 2012 @09:12PM (#38693972)
        http://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=poverty [oecd.org]

        40% of Median Income:
        =======================
        14.9% Mexico
        13.2% Israel
        11.3% United States
        11.2% Chile
        10.1% Japan
        10.0% Turkey
        =======================
        7.0% Canada
        5.9% UK
        4.9% Switzerland
        4.2% Germany
        3.4% France

        Thanks for reinforcing the stereotype that Americans don't think about facts before they start screaming "We're #1!"

        In this case, we are 33rd out of 36.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 13, 2012 @08:04PM (#38693308)

      My mother works at one. These families do get everything they need to get back on their feet, they really do. No one wants to see women and children on the street and there really isn't any excuse for it. Unfortunately, not every mother is worth anything. I wish we could take more children away from some of these women sometimes. Some of them are great mothers and manage to make it into government subsidized homes, but some are on the run from CPS and run from shelter to shelter to shelter. The shelter gives every child a free breakfast before class and the mothers are required to take them to it, but some just don't seem to give a damn about their own kids and send them to class late and hungry. It's a tough situation indeed. Very depressing.

      It's good to see a homeless kid trying her best. So many of them just give up on school completely and barely learn to read with no support from any parent. Hopefully her parents are pushing her.

    • >> You are supposedly the most powerful nation on earth, the wealthiest, the nation that is spoken to exude opportunity and success from every pore.

      1995 called. Supper is on an you have to go home now.

    • by phantomfive (622387) on Friday January 13, 2012 @08:13PM (#38693382) Journal
      Uh, you realize that even in communist Russia, where it was a crime to be homeless, and housing was provided for free, there were still homeless people? Ending homelessness is not as easy as you think at first.
      • by mutube (981006)

        Uh, you realize that even in communist Russia, where it was a crime to be homeless, and housing was provided for free, there were still homeless people?

        Good point! If a systemically poor and inefficient country can't solve a problem like homelessness what hope does the United States of America have?

        [ That reads like sarcasm, but I assure you it's not ]

    • by SammyIAm (1348279) on Friday January 13, 2012 @08:24PM (#38693490)

      what matters is resolving it, providing the social, housing, and financial support to ensure that every body can call somewhere home.

      What do you think homeless shelters are for?

    • by forkfail (228161) on Friday January 13, 2012 @08:31PM (#38693564)

      Long and the short of it is that we've allowed a new, hereditary aristocracy to persuade us that our best interests are aligned with theirs.

      Oh, they're smarter in many ways than the nobility of the past. They know how to blend in just a bit better, while still flaunting their wealth. They've bent the principles of equality and the perception thereof, and corrupted the American Dream, locking everyone else out, but allowing them to still dream the dream.

      This new aristocracy has their fiefdoms in the corporations; they own our government lock, stock and barrel; they keep us at war.

      They own the majority of the media and the mediums, and what they don't have yet, they're working diligently to take. And what information and knowledge there is, they ensure not only control of, but fight to make you pay for.

      And they've persuaded too many people of this nation that caring for the sick and the elderly is somehow evil; that educating the next generation is a waste of money; that governments are not, in fact, created by men to secure the fundamental rights as described by Jefferson. In fact, they've gone so far as to persuade many of the citizenry that any sort of organization that builds out the infrastructure, education and welfare of the people simply for the sake of doing so is fundamentally evil. They've even gone so far as to pervert Christianity to be a worship of wealth [wikipedia.org].

      And at the same time, we're provided with an ample supply of soma [wikipedia.org] in the form of so-called reality television, video games, professional sports circuses and other thought destroying noise.

      That's what's happened to us, and that is why we allow this.

      And those who have made issue of it are called dirty, unwashed lazy hippies, or seekers of entitlement - an incredibly ironic term, given that it comes from the rights of the nobility - those with title. They've lumped the terms "fascism", "communism", and "socialism" all into one inclusive bucket, not realizing the extremely significant differences between them, nor that our nation has become ruled by the corporations, nor that a certain amount of socialism is required for a society of the size and with the population density that ours has.

      That's what's wrong with my people.

    • How is it that you allow young people, let alone whole families, to be homeless, to live in "shelters".

      Wait, you're complaining because we gave homeless people a place to live? What do you want, for them to live in Trump Tower and be fed caviar? Come on, what people need is enough to get back on their own two feet when life knocks them down. They don't need to have the world given to them.

    • And you have whole families, school children, living in homeless shelters.

      The ones in shelters are lucky. I don't know numbers, but a great deal of our homeless don't even have that because their local governments either don't see it as a priority or don't have the means to provide homeless shelters. That is why tent cities have sprung up in many parts of the country.

      http://www.businessinsider.com/lakewood-new-jersey-homeless-tent-city-2011-9?op=1 [businessinsider.com]

  • She seriously does have the cutest smile. The grin she was wearing in the photo with the article about this at KSL was the highlight of my day. Smart and photogenic is a good combo. She will go far.

  • She's a semifinalist. I hope Intel's judgement of her research isn't affect by the press coverage. It would suck for someone else's superior research to get shafted because he wasn't lucky enough to be appealing as a human-interest story.

  • On a similar vien, this is why you see more hardworking asian students (or first generation students who are forced to work hard by their parents)!? Once you are privy to poverty (even if you are not poor yourself) and have seen a better life out there.. you'll give your life to hang on to it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 13, 2012 @07:58PM (#38693256)

    The linked article kind of doesn't mention that her family was in the shelter for all of a week earlier this month. Still a nice accomplishment, but none of the work she did was done while she was in the shelter.

  • by forkfail (228161)

    ... and an abysmal failure by our society.

    • by yurtinus (1590157)
      ...How? Her family lost their home. They were supported (by that abysmally failing society...) for a short time until they found another.

      Pretty much working exactly as it should.
  • Samantha deserves to get the credit for not letting distractions others have created around her from stopping her desire to forge ahead.

    That is the American spirit alive and well in the U.S. It is the spirit that entrepreneurs must have to try and try again, as not all efforts succeed.

    Being homeless is so easy to have happen if one or two key earning parents get laid off and can't downsize quickly enough in a major downturn. It is not possible for everyone to come out whole. It is just the enforced posit

  • I doubt it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mfwitten (1906728) on Friday January 13, 2012 @08:37PM (#38693618)

    I seriously doubt that crabs change the thickness of their shells in the presence of predators. Rather, I bet the predators change the kind of shell that is dominant in the population of crabs.

    It is likely the case that the predators are more easily able to eat the crabs with thinner shells, thereby increasing the percentage of crabs with thicker shells in the remaining population, and those remaining crabs with thicker shells produce offspring that also have the same kind of shells (or perhaps even thicker shells in a few cases).

    Evolution, folks. Variation. Selection.

  • by IdolizingStewie (878683) on Friday January 13, 2012 @08:51PM (#38693756)
    As several others have pointed out, the family is back in a home today. Hopefully they can stay in this one. In and out of shelters seems to be a trend for the family. http://www.newsday.com/long-island/suffolk/intel-semifinalist-samantha-garvey-gets-bay-shore-home-1.3449717?obref=obinsite [newsday.com]
  • by unity100 (970058) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @09:32AM (#38696842) Homepage Journal
    i skimmed the comments, and over 50% of the comments are americans finding excuses or rationalizing homelessness.

    tells a lot about why that country is in that knee deep shit as it is.

    there is a hole in the roof of the house, half of household is getting wet, but the other half is making excuses and rationalizations about how hole will be magically self-fixed, or how there are holes in other roofs too, or how getting wet incentivizes people to 'work', or how the people getting wet in a fucking house with a hole in its roof are 'lazy'. its your fucking house.

    let me tell you : this is stupid. escapist. lazy. self-centered. and will eventually bite YOU in your ass, which deserves it soo much.

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