New York Whiz Kids Shine Their Light

March 26, 2009 Updated: March 26, 2009

NEW YORK—It’s good to be young and living in New York City—and it doesn’t hurt if you’re a good deal smarter than almost everyone else. In a city known for separating the cream from the all that lies beneath it, New York’s brightest are steps ahead in the rat race.

And the past couple days the young and the bright have been shining brightly in the Big Apple. On March 25, a group of young robotics geniuses from Sheepshead Bay put their award-winning robot—made entirely from Legos—on display, and tried to sell a few cupcakes on the side. The group of youths aged 12-15 call themselves the “Nerd Herd”, and their bake sale was meant to raise money for a trip to Atlanta, where the “herd” hopes to showcase their robot at the FLL (First Lego League) World Festival.

The “Nerd Herd” won the First Place Champion Award, triumphing over 72 other teams at the recent NYC FIRST Lego League Championship Tournament held at NYC’s Javits Center. Because of their victory, the St. Edmund “Nerd Herd” has the honor of representing New York City in the FLL World Festival in Atlanta on April 16 through 18. Teams from all levels of robotics from around the world and the United States will converge in a competition and celebration of science and technology.

And for those more lexically inclined, there is the Daily News New York City Spelling Bee, where the city’s young verbal gymnasts come to spar for the title of linguistic lord.
The competition started March 23 with Thomas Harkins, a 13-year-old, eighth grade student from Dyker Heights Intermediate School beating out 44 competitors and finally taking the top spot after correctly spelling "philippic."

On day two of the Bee, 13-year-old Talia Weisberg, an 8th-grader from the Manhattan Day School on the Upper East Side, beat out her 44 competitors by acing the word “quietive.”

The two winners will go on to represent New York City in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, being held from May 26-28 in Washington, D.C.

Whether it’s words, robots—or percolating concertos—the events of the last few days are proof that as far as the next generation of Big Applers goes—as children’s book author Shel Silverstein might have put it—there is indeed a light in the attic.