Category Archives: STEM

Message from the Director: Summertime is Talent Development Time

Welcome to the Belin-Blank Center’s 29th summer of programs for teachers and students!  While in the midst of serving hundreds of elementary, middle, and high school students, we will deliver TAG courses and workshops to teachers, evaluate clients in the Assessment and Counseling Clinic, and prepare for 2017-2018 fall and spring opportunities.  Dozens of short-term faculty and staff, including program coordinators, teaching assistants, instructors, and residential advisors, assist our permanent staff members in accomplishing our goals for Summer on the Brain.  While many students come from Iowa, we will also welcome students from 28 other states, plus Canada, Hong Kong, China, South Korea, and Turkey!

Saying good-bye at the end of each program is always difficult.  However, everyone can stay connected to the Belin-Blank Center through our newsletter and The Window, a new podcast hosted by Director Emeritus, Dr. Nicholas Colangelo.  As described in the article published in The Gazette, The Window aims to make a meaningful difference in the lives of the listeners and break new ground in our thinking about talent development and our educational systems vis-à-vis the talent development process.

Speaking of talent development, we are thrilled to share that the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation has introduced a new grant program, the Rural Talent Initiative, and the Belin-Blank Center is one of the six grantees.  In 2014, the Center received a $500,000 Talent Development Award from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation for its STEM Excellence and Literacy (SEAL) program for students in grades 5 to 7.  It will use its new grant to expand the program to students in grades 8 and 9 in the 10 rural Iowa school districts currently implementing SEAL. More than 1,000 students and their teachers in these districts will receive direct benefits over a two-year period due to this grant.

One thing we’ve found in nearly thirty years of summer programs is that there is always more to learn.  Even on the sleepiest summer days, students of all ages are at the Center learning exciting new things!

Science in San Diego

The 55th Annual National JSHS starts tomorrow! The top five students from the 2017 Iowa Regional Junior Science and Humanities Symposium are going to Nationals.  Good luck to all!

1. Kathryn Bozer – West High School, Iowa City
2. Manasa Pagadala – Rivermont Collegiate, Bettendorf
3. Mason Burlage – Beckman Catholic High School, Dubuque
4. Megan Ertl – Beckman Catholic High School, Dubuque
5. Maddie Zastrow – Prairie High School, Cedar Rapids

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Come Join Us This Summer For Blast!

Check out more about the courses below and additional academic programming at belinblank.org/summer.

Introducing And Increasing Computer Science Education In Schools

There are innumerable benefits to offering computer science instruction in K-12 schools. This policy statement from the Association for Computing Machinery makes a compelling case in favor of increasing CS opportunities for students. The question now concerns how to go about expanding those opportunities. Below are a few resources to aid in bringing CS education into schools.

General Resources: LeadCS.org offers tools to answer questions facing district and school leaders who are working to expand CS in their schools and districts. Code.org contains a wealth of information regarding CS advocacy, methods of teaching CS, and opportunities for students to employ both in and out of school.

Preparing Teachers: The Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) provides community and professional development opportunities. Advanced Placement training for a CS course through an AP Summer Institute (like our Advanced Placement Teacher Training Institute) is another way for teachers to gain skills and confidence in teaching computer science.

Offering Courses: There are a wide variety of options for CS instruction that can be implemented by teachers with varying levels of CS content knowledge. One such option is our Iowa Online AP Academy. We offer a high-school level Introduction to CS course for middle school students, and both AP Computer Science courses for high school students through our partnership with Edhesive. Additionally, Code.org offers courses through their Code Studio, and they compiled a list of 3rd party resources offering courses and/or programs at elementary, middle, and high school levels.

Check out the IOAPA website for more on our courses, and the APTTI website to find out how to join us this summer.

Computer Science Education Week!

Next week (December 5-11, 2016) is Computer Science Education Week (CSEd Week)!

One way to get involved is through Hour of Code. You may have heard of it through our presentation at ITAG, our Twitter, or some other means. Last year, 590,000 Iowans tried an hour of code (or more!), and this year Code Iowa is in its third year of a partnership with Code.org to generate more interest and participation in Iowa. Visit the Hour of Code website to learn more about how to teach an Hour of Code, how to promote your event, and to find activities to fill your Hour of Code and beyond! You can also register your event and find local volunteers who can inspire your students by visiting your classroom in-person or remotely. Share pictures of your event using #CodeIowa or @IowaSTEM (and share them with the Belin-Blank Center using @belinblank)! By participating in Hour of Code, your school and/or organization can become “Certified Code Iowa Partners” and gain access to free CS trainings in 2017. Find out more at www.iowastem.gov/CodeIowa.

So you have a plan for your Hour of Code; how else can you participate in CSEd Week?

What are your plans for CSEd Week? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @kflanaryIOAPA

JSI Alliant Energy Community Grant

students_for_ae_blogThe Belin-Blank Center is proud to announce a new scholarship opportunity for gifted students. The Alliant Energy Community Grant will provide scholarships for 10 STEM Excellence and Leadership students to attend our Junior Scholars Institute.

As an advocate for education and innovation, Alliant Energy offers a number of scholarships. In less than 20 years, the Alliant Energy Foundation has given nearly $50 million to local communities. We want to thank Alliant Energy for helping us pave the way for gifted education for students in rural Iowa.

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One student from each of our STEM Excellence & Leadership schools will be eligible to receive this grant. STEM Excellence & Leadership, funded by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, is a unique educational program that helps empower under-resourced rural schools in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math.

Alliant Energy’s generous donation will allow ten 6-8th grade students from these schools to participate in a one-week-long summer program. JSI students take an advanced course and live on the University of Iowa campus in the Honors program residence hall.

Other students interested in attending are also welcome. Registration for this and other summer programs will open December 15, 2016. For more information on the Belin-Blank Center’s summer programs, visit belinblank.org/summer.

To learn more about all of Alliant Energy’s charitable donations and community involvement, visit: http://www.alliantenergy.com/CommunityInvolvement/

Challenge Comes to Cedar Rapids!

We’re excited to partner with Imagination Iowa to offer enrichment courses in Cedar Rapids for gifted middle school students this fall!

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Starting October 21 – November 18, gifted middle school students in Cedar Rapids can explore the world of business development with the iEntrepreneur class or try out the art of 3D Design & Printing. Classes will start at 2:00 pm after the early release from school and last for three hours.

Imagination Iowa is a K‍–‍12 STEAM-based program powered by the non-profit NewBoCo. It prides itself on encouraging creative growth by teaching students coding, engineering and entrepreneurship skills. All Imagination Iowa courses are hands-on, experiential and project based. This ensures that students apply real world concepts to their learning and have opportunities to work with experts in those fields. Located in the heart of the NewBo District, this innovative program is growing quickly and expanding its efforts to reach the needs of all learners.

Are you in the Cedar Rapids area? Check out the courses!