Column One: Students

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But unlike most other researchers, Preston is barely old enough to drive: He is a senior at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics.

One of five students in a class in chemistry research, Preston has created what is considered the only lab in the country designed for diamond-synthesis research, a process to create an impenetrable diamond film that is useful as a protective coating. The film could be used to make eyeglass lenses and electronic scanners at supermarket check-out counters.

Last fall, after attending a summer program at North Carolina State University, Preston built his lab, and then conducted two workshops on diamond synthesis for teachers across the state.

As a result of the workshops--and teaching materials Preston created--at least seven North Carolina schools have built similar labs.

Students who work after school more than 10 hours a week tend to drop out of extracurricular activities and spend less time on homework, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin at Madison has found.

But the study of 12,000 high-school students in Wisconsin and California also found that those who participate in extracurricular activities--even up to 20 hours a week--tend to have higher grades than those who do not.

"There appears to be some benefit--a modest benefit," to participation in extracurricular activities, said B. Bradford Brown, a professor of educational psychology at Wisconsin.

Mr. Brown noted, however, that students who said their favorite activities were "glory sports"--baseball, football, and basketball--did not enjoy the same academic benefits as those involved in school-leadership activities or clubs.

Although millions of adolescents are at risk of problem behaviors and school failure, there are dozens of programs that have proved effective in helping them, a new book concludes.

Adolescents at Risk, published by Oxford University Press, notes that several states and cities have developed comprehensive programs linking schools and community agencies to deal with delinquency, teenage pregnancy, school failure, and substance abuse.

The author, the researcher Joy Dryfoos, urges the creation of an independent federal agency to coordinate state and local efforts and sharpen their focus.--rr

Vol. 10, Issue 27

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