Columbus High alumna on list of world’s 50 smartest teens

ssorich@ledger-enquirer.comOctober 23, 2013 

A Columbus High School alumna is among the 50 smartest teens in the world, according to a list that’s making the rounds online.

TheBestSchools.org put Erin King, 19, on the list. King attends Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she’s a sophomore studying computer science.

“It was really unexpected,” King said of the “smartest teens” recognition. “Other people on this list are way more deserving of the recognition than I am.”

How did she become one of the world’s smartest teens?

"Hacking” her MIT acceptance letter certainly helped. There’s a tradition in which early admission MIT students do something interesting with their acceptance letter tubes. Some students turn them into marshmallow shooters or an equivalent novel use.

In 2012, King sent hers to the edge of space.

Using a small weather balloon, a couple of GPS equipped radios, a video camera and a tank of helium, King released her tube from Lumpkin, Ga.

Volunteers from the Columbus Amateur Radio Club drove 100 miles across South Georgia, following the GPS coordinates of the silver tube.

The balloon carried King’s tube to 90,000 feet above South Georgia and floated on the atmosphere like a boat on water at the very edge of space.

The balloon popped and the tube came down by parachute near Cordele, Ga., where it was found in a small pine tree. The “hack” led to a YouTube video that at press time had attracted 93,900 views.

TheBestSchools.org bills itself as “a leading resource for campus and online education.” The website notes, “Our aim is to help students find the best college and university degree programs to advance their career goals.”

A spokesman for the website, James Barham, said in an email to the Ledger-Enquirer that the list of 50 smartest teens was based on information “gathered from online sources. The list was pared down from an initial list of 100, based on the judgment of the author as to the overall importance of the person’s contribution and its interest for our readers.”

King was the runner-up in the “career and technology” category at the 2012 Page One Awards.

She learned about the “smartest teens” when we posted our story Wednesday at ledger-enquirer.com. “Thanks, Ledger-Enquirer! I didn’t even know about this list. TheBestSchools.org got my age wrong...” she wrote on our website.

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