Perse students chosen for ground-breaking US education project
Four Perse students have been selected for a brand new programme bringing together the world’s brightest young minds to consider solutions to global issues.
Emma Harris, Eduard Baroyan, Daniel Chen (all Lower Sixth) and Natalie Ronco (Year 11) have been offered the chance to attend a 10-day Atlas Fellowship course in California’s Silicon Valley this summer.
Just 100 students from across the world have been invited to take part in the all-expenses-paid programme, which is supported by Open Philanthropy and FTX Future Fund, and will challenge them to think about how the world’s most pressing problems could be tackled.
As well as the course, Atlas fellows will also receive the incredible bonus of a scholarship of up to $50,000 to cover their future university tuition.
Emma, Eduard and Daniel were made aware of the Atlas Fellowship by Perse Assistant Director of Studies Jon Young, while Natalie heard about the initiative from languages teacher Rebecca Mitchell after taking part in the UK Linguistics Olympiad.
Eduard said: “I applied because I’m considering applying to universities in America. I thought it sounded like a really exciting opportunity, especially with a 10-day trip to California and a scholarship associated with it to help with university education.”
A rigorous selection process saw the students make a written application, where they were asked to consider a wide range of scientific and philosophical questions, followed by an online interview.
Emma said: “The application questions were really interesting. They tested your ethical reasoning and quantitative reasoning and forced us to think in ways we’d never done before.
Natalie added: “It was more about the thought process than the answer. They weren’t looking for the ‘right’ answer, so one of the questions was ‘Choose an unsolved problem and describe your initial approach to it’.”
Another example of the type of problem posed was outlined by Eduard. He said: “One question was ‘Predict the population of people by the year 3000’, but then they also said this could include digital people, which is basically people’s brains uploaded on to computers! My top end was 50 quintillion!”
For the online interviews, the students were either asked to expand on the answers provided in their applications or given on-the-spot problems on which to consider their response on subjects ranging from physics to economics.
Daniel said: “I’m very focused on maths, but they still chose me because I think they are looking for students who have gone out of their way to do their own thing in the past.”
The students cannot wait to get involved in the Atlas Fellowship scheme and are intrigued about what awaits them.
Emma said: “It’s going to be pretty wide ranging. It looks as if they want to help us develop an understanding of rationality and how the world works.
“I’m really looking forward to meeting other people and sharing thoughts and ideas with them.”
Natalie added: “It sounds as if it’s going to be really interesting. If what we’re going to discuss is anything like the questions they gave us in the application process, I’ll really enjoy it.”