Science Talent in the Young Expressed Within Ecologies of Achievement

Paul F. Brandwein

Six interrelated constructs form the body of this study.

The first is built upon researches and studies that lead to a preliminary conception of an ecology of achievement: It describes a skein of achievement-centered, goal-targeted environments that do—or should—comprise the inspiring teaching and learning that can enhance the endowments of the young.

The second presents studies of unfavorable environments that block the goals of equal opportunity, optimum achievement in science, and the discovery of science proneness or talent. These unfriendly ecologies have contributed to a fall-off in the general science pool deemed necessary to maintain equitable achievement in the present postindustrial era.

The third comprises elements of formal learning in augmenting environments focusing on instruction as an event evoking early discovery through self-identification of gifted children with a particular bent (or proneness) to science.

The fourth is based in the conviction that curriculum and instruction are distinct but related fields within present models of instructed learning. It sees curriculum as serving as content within an open, facilitating structure, and instruction as a passport to activities enabling early self-identification. It provides a system for discovery and self-selection of all young for differentiated, sustainable futures in today’s postindustrial world. Such a design would enable the young to demonstrate their powers in pursuit of their individual excellence. In short, instructional and curricular innovation combined as instructed learning constitutes a system of self-identification and discovery of early science proneness in its stage-shift to developing science talent.

The fifth exemplifies curriculum and instruction, focused in special aptitudes and abilities, relevant to science proneness as precursor to self-identification of a science talent. This goal depends on an augmenting environment, differentiated in instruction and learning, which provides open opportunity for originative inquiry resulting in a creative act. The latter criterion sample is a work, which expresses science talent. (An empirical evaluation establishes the validation of this approach as a specific criterion for self-discovery of science talent.)

The sixth concerns science talent in practice. It describes a skein of discoveries, one leading to another, and concludes with a definition of science talent.


Brandwein, P. F. (1995). Science talent in the young expressed within ecologies of achievement (RBDM9510). Storrs: University of Connecticut, The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented.

Science Talent in the Young Expressed Within Ecologies of Achievement
Paul F. Brandwein


  1. The widest net ought to be flung to open opportunity for all young in an idea-enactive, inquiry oriented learning curriculum and instruction. This generous cast offers access to equal opportunity for self-identification, along with, but not exclusively through, ability and achievement testing as composite factors for entry into the science talent pool.
  2. The structure of curriculum and the mode of instruction in classroom and laboratory serve to identify science proneness, an understanding that suggests a significant way to increase the science talent pool.
  3. Science proneness begins in a base of a general giftedness and develops its component skills in verbal, mathematical, and in time, the nonentrenched tasks of problem seeking, finding, and solving in specialized science fields. Eventually given favorable ecologies, science proneness can shift to an expression in a work showing science talent.
  4. Science talent calls for identification through in-context evaluation in long-term inquiry without reference to IQ or standardized tests of achievement. It provides for testing of science talent through a criterion sample of work of the young as predictive of their future accomplishments.
  5. When the young enter into the climate of science, they should benefit from at least two resources as gifts of schooling. First, they deserve access to the substance of science, a rich even massive, conceptual structure of cumulative knowledge. Second they deserve opportunities to participate in problem finding and concept seeking and forming—that is, to experience the style of science—its particular modes of inquiry and explanation.
  6. The experience of originative research in high school may motivate a decision to pursue a career in science and thus qualify students for continued research in their undergraduate years. Originative inquiry can lead to early expression of science talent in the young; it therefore is a worthy practice in the quest of the young scientist-to-be.