Message from the Director: The Belin-Blank Center as Catalyst

Catalysts bring about change through reactions.

All year, the Belin-Blank Center staff and faculty prepare to act as catalysts, promoting and facilitating daily reactions between students and instructors. Why? Talent cannot be developed in a vacuum.

Full development of talent requires committed teachers, engaged students, and a challenging learning atmosphere. The Belin-Blank Center is the catalyst that converts these reagents into life-changing experiences for hundreds of pre-college and professional development participants. We develop talent through our year-round programming; however, the most intensive moments occur over a six-week period from mid-June to the end of July.

What does a Belin-Blank Center catalytic reaction look like? Follow the Belin-Blank Center’s Twitter account for up-to-the minute information about programs or visit our @BBC page to see students and teachers in their classes, to learn the schedule for opening activities, and/or to locate where you can tour (either virtually or in person) the closing activities.

A culminating experience for one of our high school programs, the Secondary Student Training Program (SSTP), will be the public open house of the individual research posters (July 24). SSTP is a five-week program for extremely-able high schools students who spend five weeks conducting research with University of Iowa professors. Last year’s posters and abstracts can be viewed here.

July will be a phenomenal month for students and teachers. A couple of highlights from the multitude of professional development opportunities include the Advanced Placement Teacher Training Institute (APTTI), which starts on July 6, when we welcome more than 150 teachers and 12 AP trainers to campus for an intensive week of College Board training for Advanced Placement (AP) Coursework. These dedicated professionals recognize the importance of AP in the lives of their talented students. The positive impacts – academic as well as psychological – are undisputed. The following week, at least 100 educators will participate in the innovative Chautauqua seriesRecognizing that teachers give up several days of their summer to become gifted educators (not just educators of the gifted) is a humbling moment for us.

It’s possible that some of these “reactions” would happen without a catalyst, but why take the chance? Twenty-seven years (and counting) of phenomenally innovative and research-based programming doesn’t just happen…it takes hours, weeks, months, and sometimes years of planning by a wonderfully dedicated and committed staff. In August, I’ll be sharing information about new programming, including an online above-level test that is being piloted with 4th through 6th graders, innovations to the Invent Iowa Program, and a virtual tour of our newly-acquired art in the building. Between now and then, enjoy reading about our activities, and I hope we connect with you through one of our many social media options.

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