The bee is on!

Throwing Things is blogging the National Spelling Bee.

Six-year-old speller Lori Anne Madison didn’t make the semi-finals. She failed to spell “ingluvies,” which means “the crop or craw of birds.”

6-year-old qualifies for National Spelling Bee

A six-year-old Virginia girl who learned to read before the age of 2 will compete in the National Spelling Bee. Homeschooled by her mother, a college professor, Lori Anne Madison plans to become an astrobiologist, reports AP. She also excels in math and swimming.

“Hold on to that basalt,” Lori Anne Madison said in a bossy 6-year-old’s voice, shoving a chunk at her mother, “and do not drop it.”

“Go away,” her mother said playfully.

Sorina Madison held on the rock nonetheless, and soon was carrying more basalt and a nice hunk of quartz.

By then Lori Anne, wearing a green “Little Miss Sunshine” shirt, had joined up with more friends and had taken on a different quest, searching for snails, slugs, tadpoles, water striders, baby snakes at the Scotts Run Nature Preserve in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.

“Oh my gosh, what is it? A water worm. A water worm! It’s alive,” said Lori Anne. “I need it in my collection. It’s wonderful.”

Her mother tried to enroll Lori Anne in a private school for the gifted, but the headmaster said she was too smart.

The veteran spellers, some as old as 15, have honed sophisticated study methods, spending hours daily over many months in their attempts to master as much of the unabridged dictionary as possible.

Lori Anne? She likes to study while jumping on her trampoline, with her mother calling out words.

“She doesn’t sit at a table for hours to study anything. I mean, she’s 6,” Sorina said with laugh. “She’s still a 6-year-old and we want to allow her to be a 6-year-old.”

Lori Anne’s favorite word is “sprachgefuhl,” which means an intuitive sense of what’s linguistically appropriate.

Tops in math — and spelling

Evan O’Dorney, winner of the Intel Talent Search’s $100,000 top prize, previously won the National Spelling Bee and a gold medal at an international math Olympiad, reports the San Jose Mercury News. O’Dorney, 17, is home-schooled by his mother in Danville, California. Dad is a BART train driver.

“I’m excited and shocked,” Evan said after his win Tuesday. “This has been exciting, especially the judging interviews. All the science questions and working with scientists who are in very different fields than me, I’m very grateful.”

For the Intel contest, he solved a problem involving square roots —  “Continued Fraction Convergents and Linear Fractional Transformations” — in general terms.

In a layperson’s summary, O’Dorney wrote: “In this project, I have discovered and proved an unexpectedly simple formula that allows one to predict, given a particular square root, whether the two methods yield infinitely many results in common.”

A black belt in tae kwon do, O’Dorney studies piano performance and composition at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He’s written a musical representation of the number pi, an opera and a piano concerto. He will head to Harvard in the fall with plans to become a math professor.