Author Archives: belinblank

Free Fuel for Aspiring Inventors

We’re excited to announce the STEMIE Coalition, the host of the National Invention Convention and Entrepreneurship Expo, have developed a K-12 Youth Invention Curriculum available for use by Invent Iowa teachers!

This comprehensive online invention and entrepreneurship curriculum has been released in beta version, and will be in development for the next few months. Each week, new lesson plans including videos, alignment to standards, activities, and slideshows are added, with material ranging from lasers to a shark tank styled activity. All resources are freely available for you to adapt to meet the needs of your inventors. You can access the free curriculum here:

Also, be sure to check out information about the 2018 National Invention Convention and Entrepreneurship Expo (NICEE), that will be held at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan in June 2018! Winners of the Invent Iowa State Invention Convention will have the opportunity to attend the National Invention Convention funded by Invent Iowa. If you have questions regarding Invent Iowa, please email them to

Countdown to Applications

Our five-and-a-half-week intensive summer research program is now accepting applicants!

Secondary Student Training Program at the University of Iowa

The Secondary Student Training Program at the University of Iowa is now officially open to applications! To prepare, let’s take a moment to go over what you can expect during the application process.

Step 1: Create Your Account 

Get started by creating your very own SSTP application account. You will be required to provide personal information, including your address, your home phone number, and your date of birth. Please also include the email address you intend to use for all future communication with the Belin-Blank Center staff.

Step 2: Your Application Checklist

Once you have your account, you will land at the Application Checklist page. It will look something like this:

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 3.11.06 PM

Lots of the buttons should be red. They will turn green as you complete the application requirements. To see a detailed description of what you still need to complete, click on one of the red buttons.

Step 3: Application Responses and…

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A New Project, a New Way to Connect, and More: Our October Newsletter is Out!

Get the latest from the Belin-Blank Center in our October newsletter!

Message from the Director: Fear Gives Way to Admiration, Inspiration, and Gratitude

Fear. My first meeting with David Belin and Myron and Jacqueline Blank occurred nearly 30 years ago, but the memory of that primal emotion remains strong today. Of course, fear is a product of the unknown and, to my knowledge, I had never met a millionaire, let alone a millionaire whose generosity was to lead directly to what would become my life’s work and passion.

The moment I met Myron and Jacqueline Blank, along with their friend and Belin-Blank Center co-founder, David Belin (Belin’s wife, Connie, had been deceased for about a decade), my fear immediately was replaced by admiration. I appreciated their gracious and genuine attention to me and the center’s staff—and their belief in our mission of empowering and serving gifted and talented students, as well as their teachers and families.

The Blanks and Belins were philanthropists who recognized what we could do with their generosity and trusted us to be innovative and groundbreaking, and they conveyed their gratitude for our efforts. Their visionary gift, which created the University of Iowa Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development, freed us from the constraints of convention, a hallmark of education, and inspired us to develop a trailblazing model for service and program delivery for talented students and their teachers. These innovations led to additional gifts from the original founding families and their descendants—as well as new gifts from other equally generous and gracious philanthropists.

Throughout the past three decades, the Belin-Blank Center has been growing programs and services for students and teachers. Iowans are at the core of our programming, but we serve students from around the country and the world. We’ve been competitive in our efforts for foundation, state, and federal grants, which were made possible because of those initial gifts. The Blank Honors Center never would have been built, and the Belin-Blank Center would not exist, without that initial philanthropy.

I acknowledge our founders every day. Now deceased, their generosity lives on; their gifts to this campus have impacted tens of thousands of young people and their teachers, and they will continue to do so for decades to come. That’s the power of philanthropy. Fear is a useless emotion, but gratitude, manifested through stewardship of the philanthropy, is powerful and can change the world, one student and one teacher at a time.

This story appeared in slightly different form in The Daily Iowan as part of their Voices of Philanthropy Series. Other installments of the series include a piece about philanthropy’s impact on one student, a student philanthropist’s point of view, and how crucial philanthropy is to Hancher Auditorium.

To help support the Belin-Blank Center, please visit our website.

Credit for the NAGC Conference, Best Practices in Differentiation, and More

The Belin-Blank Center still has upcoming professional learning opportunities this fall!

If you attend the National Association for Gifted Children Conference this year in Charlotte, North Carolina (November 9 – 12), the Belin-Blank Center is offering Leadership in Gifted Education: NAGC 2017 for either one or two semester hours of credit; this workshop is offered from November 16 – December 8.  The Center provides an automatic 50% tuition scholarship, applied to the cost of graduate tuition, for those participating in this conference credit.

Our final one-hour workshop this fall is Differentiated Instruction for the Gifted, beginning on November 13 and ending on December 5.  Be sure to share the availability of this workshop with teachers who would benefit from information focused on best practices in differentiating for high-ability learners.

Educators completing their endorsements still have time to sign up for the practicum experience beginning on November 6.

Please visit the in November to see what professional learning opportunities are available this spring; if you have a topic that you would like to see offered, please contact Dr. Laurie Croft at either or  319-335-6148.  And for some of the best informal professional learning in the field today, please join our gifted-teachers listserv.  To subscribe to the list, send an email to LISTSERV@LIST.UIOWA.EDU and, in the text of your message (not the subject line), write: SUBSCRIBE GIFTED-TEACHERS First-Name Last-Name.  You can also join our new Gifted Education and Talent Development Ning, designed to extend the topics discussed on the listserv, for another tool to facilitate professional development in gifted education.

An Exciting Javits-Funded New Project

We are thrilled to announce that we have received a Javits grant!  The joint project – by co-PIs Professors Susan Assouline, Saba Ali, and Megan Foley-Nicpon, and methodologist Dr. Duhita Mahatmya – consists of a five-year, $2.1 million plan to increase educators’ capacity to identify and provide talented and gifted programming to underrepresented students in Iowa.  Dr. Ali, Associate Dean for Research in the University of Iowa College of Education, and Drs. Assouline, Foley Nicpon, Mahatmya, of the Belin-Blank Center, will use a career intervention Dr. Ali developed, along with I-Excel, a Belin-Blank Center online above-level assessment, to further the goals of this project.

We are fortunate to bring talent and career development opportunities to students with disabilities and students of color living in rural Iowa communities…I look forward to the difference we will make for many students who otherwise would never have been seen or heard.

– Dr. Megan Foley Nicpon

The title of the effort is the “Culturally Responsive Talent Identification and Career Exploration (TICE).”  According to the project abstract, “[u]nderrepresented students, especially students from economically  disadvantaged backgrounds, students of color, rural students, and students with disabilities, are at risk of being overlooked for participation in talented and gifted programs. Project personnel will integrate an expanded talent development model…and a career intervention program…to maximize the identification and development of underrepresented talented and gifted students.”  The Iowa Online AP Academy (IOAPA) will also contribute to this project, broadening the courses available to these students by offering online coursework in the schools.  We look forward to this opportunity to use the experience and knowledge of the Belin-Blank Center and the College of Education from the last several decades to impact bright students who are so often overlooked.


Gifted Education and Talent Development Ning

In 2008, Adam Penenberg described a Ning as a collection of free social networks, “growing automagically.”  Educational Technology and Mobile Learning wrote in 2012 that Nings provided “great social networking for educators…where they can meet up with other like-minded teachers,” listing some popular educational Nings about a variety of educational topics.  Educational Networking has provided a much more extensive list of opportunities online, including Nings, among all kinds of resources (from “Buddy Press” to “Vocational”).

Since 2003, the Belin-Blank Center has hosted one of the largest and most active listservs for advocates for gifted students (including teachers, administrators, parents, and university faculty, with subscribers from Iowa, from all around the United States, and from a variety of other nations) and for best practices in the development of their talents.  The Gifted-Teachers listserv has attracted over 1,100 subscribers, and it provides members with peers who can respond to questions, both on the list and directly to the email of those who ask questions.  While many teachers of the gifted have few “true peers” in their buildings to talk about topics important to gifted, the listserv offers a community—and “just-in-time” learning when a teacher hopes to find an answer as quickly as possible.  Now, to complement the listserv, the Center has created a Gifted Education and Talent Development Ning, hoping to provide a resource for many of the questions that appear on the listserv and extend the learning opportunities.

The Ning is a free resource for those interested in gifted/talented education, and we welcome your participation, your additions to the site, and your recommendations to make it as helpful as possible.  Please visit  In the top right-hand corner, notice the link to Sign Up.  You’ll be asked to create a new account linked to your email address.  After you have created your new account, you’ll be able to Sign In and take advantage of professional learning with no walls or time constraints.