Super Kid: Alex Springer, 17, senior, Edmonds-Woodway High School
A: I found in eighth grade that my math classes weren't challenging enough. I was kind of sitting in class twiddling my thumbs and looking for a little more of a challenge. We petitioned Edmonds-Woodway to allow me to take classes. I was able to place at integrated math 3 at the high school. I also took honors biology as an eighth-grader.
Q: So where did this place you with your high school courses?
A: As a freshman, I was a year ahead of my peers in both math and science. That was even among honors students. Looking back, I really appreciate that I took classes ahead of time. It gave me a taste of high school before actually enrolling in it.
Q: What type of math courses have you been taking?
A: A combination of a bunch of mathematics, trigonometry, geometry and proofs and that kind of thing. And then simple algebra 2, quadratic equations. Lots of algebra. I think, for me, I like challenging myself and learning new things. When I approach a problem, I appreciate the challenge inherent in the problem as well as the feeling you get for arriving at a solution.
Q: Have you been interested in math since you were a very young student?
A: I would say so. My parents joke that I inherited my mom's math gene. She's an accountant. My older brother, Tyler, would help me with math problems and show me advanced math while I was in elementary school. Then my parents supported my interest in math, buying me supplementary math workbooks. They would turn math into fun games and word problems.
Q: You're in involved in sports as well?
A: So there're three sports seasons. I've been captain of the cross-country team and on varsity for all four years.
Q: Could you talk a little about the cross-country meets?
A: Cross country, it's 5-kilometer races. And so it's an individual sport in that you're racing for your own time, but there's also a team aspect in that if you have the top five runners finish before the other teams, generally you'll win the meet. There's a lot to going into training and race strategies. After four years, I would say there's a lot more to cross country than meets the eye.
Q: You're involved with the swim team now?
A: Yeah, so I got involved in triathlons during my sophomore year. I decided to join the swim team in my junior year. It was my first year swimming. In the process of one year of swimming the crawl stroke and making it to district, also the backstroke that year. Because of my improvement and enthusiasm, the coach made me swim-team captain.
Q: Why are sports important to you?
A: I use sports as kind of like a break from school, a stress reliever, almost. I'm in classes all day and then I want to go play a couple of hours.
Q: Have you decided on college and what degree you'll pursue?
A: Biomedical engineering, medicine and engineering. Ultimately, I would like to study genetic engineering or gene therapy in graduate school. I'm traveling back to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge for visits.
I actually got an internship at the University of Washington this past summer as a research assistant. I also like the engineering. Biomedical engineering combines research with problem-solving. Genetic engineering or being a researcher are on my mind for career options.
Q: What sorts of things do you like to do for fun?
A: As often as I can, I like to get out to do hiking and camping. (One recent) weekend, we went up and stayed at Stevens Pass for three days. It's nice to get away and relax in the outdoors. For me, going into the outdoors is a peaceful and serene time that helps me relax from some of the pressures of life.
Q: I was told about the loss of your brother in a car accident in November. Would you be willing to discuss that and how you coped with it?
A: I would love to speak to it. Obviously, I loved my brother. There's not a day that goes by that I don't think of him.
When I was growing up, my brother was a role model for me. He would babysit me and was an older brother and friend. I can repay that favor and be the same the role model to his son, who's 6 years old. It's a joy to play with him and take him out and be the role model for him the way it was for me.
There're still moments when it gets really tough. I have to hold onto the memories of my brother, the good moments rather than the bad moments.
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