A home-schooled girl named Caitlin Snaring this week became the second girl to win a National Geographic Bee competition, making her the most recent winner in a string of contests dominated by children who were educated outside government-run schools.
Educating kids at home has become easier and more affordable through advances in technology, including distance learning and the Internet. That's led to ideas like the Laurel Springs School, which offers an online program with one-on-one interaction with teachers. (Estimates place the number of home-schooled kids at around 1.1 million 2003, which would be 2.2 percent of the total student population.)
Home-schooled kids have consistently done well in these kinds of competitions. In 2000, the first, second, and third place contestants in the National Spelling Bee were educated at home. Plenty of other examples exist. And it can pay off academically: In 1999, Stanford accepted over a quarter of home-schooled applicants, double the university's average acceptance rate.