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Utah students win award for Advanced Placement testing

Published April 4, 2013 3:15 pm

Honors • Logan junior, Davis senior each win a $2,000 scholarship.
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Two students in Utah outperformed all others in the state to win the Siemens Award for Advanced Placement testing. Steven Ban, a junior at Logan High School in Logan, and Helena Ma, a senior at Davis High School in Kaysville, were each awarded a $2,000 scholarship in recognition of their achievements in Advanced Placement Program testing.

A total of 101 high school students in 50 states were honored. Students were chosen who had earned the greatest number of scores of 5 on AP exams in biology, calculus, chemistry, computer science, environmental science, statistics, physics and magnetism.

"We commend this year's Siemens Awards for Advanced Placement winners on their hard work and dedication to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects, and the teachers, parents and schools who supported their scholarship," said Jeniffer Harper-Taylor, president of the Siemens Foundation.

Helena Ma, a winner of four National Science Olympiad Medals, completed 12 STEM AP courses. Her favorite was economics. Helena plans to major in biomedical engineering in college. In addition to academic achievements, Helena is an accomplished pianist.

She said that she has been academically inclined from the time she was small. She credits her parents for influencing her academic success.

"My mom started me reading when I was pretty young," she said. "When you are younger, being successful is something that is expected of you, but by the time you hit junior high or high school it's something you want to do. You are genuinely motivated to learn. It's just a choice you make."

Helena's advice to other students: study hard, learn to manage your time, learn how much you can handle and most of all be self-motivated.

According to Kelly Oram, Advanced Placement art history and economics teacher at Davis High, Helena is an engaged learner.

"She thinks about what she is learning and internalizes it," she said.

Steven Ban was one of only eight juniors recognized in the nation. Steven has completed 12 AP courses. His favorite is biology.

"If you want to prepare yourself for college, take the AP courses in high school," Steven said.

Like Helena, Steven too was an Olympiad medalist and is a pianist. He plans to study science and math in college.

"I would like to have a career that can help people and make the world a better place for everyone," he said.

Drew Neilson, Steven's AP physics teacher, said Steven has a math ability that he has seen only a couple of times in his 16 years of teaching. Added to his knowledge, he has an incredible work ethic and problem-solving skills. He describes Steven as a "truly amazing young man."

In addition to the Siemens Award, Steven was the only semifinalist from Utah for the United States Physics team.

The Siemens Awards for Advanced Placement was established in 1998. The Siemens Foundation provides more than $7 million annually to support education initiatives in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math in the United States.

"We are proud to join our partners at the Siemens Foundation in recognizing these exceptional students," said David Coleman, president of the College Board. "Today's award-winners have the foundation to achieve great success in some of today's most exciting, innovative careers."

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Scoring AP exams

The process of score setting—establishing the AP score boundaries (determining how many composite score points equals what AP score)—takes place immediately after the Reading.

AP Exam scores are reported on a 5-point scale as follows:

5 • Extremely well qualified*

4 • Well qualified*

3 • Qualified*

2 • Possibly qualified*

1 • No recommendation**

*Qualified to receive college credit or advanced placement

**No recommendation to receive college credit or advanced placement

Source: The College Board