Two of our previous programs, Blast and the Junior Scholars Institute, have joined forces to create the Junior Scholars Academy (JSA)! Students from 2nd to 8th grade with a deep curiosity, a love of learning, or a lot of talent in a particular area will feel right at home in this program.
JSA is a summer commuter program designed specifically for bright elementary and middle school students who want to thoroughly explore a topic – all while having fun with other kids who share their enthusiasm for learning. Students get to choose one class to focus on all day, for a full week – and these aren’t just any regular classes! With past options like Harry Potter, STEAM, Mixed Media Art, Virtual Reality, Programming (and more!), we’re sure to have something for any curious kid.
Applications open December 15th and will be reviewed by a selection committee composed of Belin-Blank Center faculty and staff. Program acceptance is based on a review of the student’s strengths and interests. The selection committee works to ensure that the class is a good academic fit to nurture the student’s potential. Participation in a school’s gifted education program is not required.
Grade bands for JSA will be 2nd-3rd, 4th-5th, 6th-8th, with the structure consisting of four 1-week sessions. Choose any one (or more!) that works best for you:
Looking for a residential opportunity for 7th and 8th grade students? The Blank Summer Institute (BSI) is a prestigious one-week residential summer program for 120 of Iowa’s most talented 7th- and 8th- grade students, nominated by their schools.
As the school year has come to a close, excitement and planning for summer fun is in the air! What are you imagining for these sun-drenched days—beaches, camping, novels, hiking, blockbuster movies? If you are a teacher, which of your students might be dreaming about digging into a science or engineering challenge this summer and how can you encourage them? Perhaps you have a child whose curiosity needs an outlet and encouraging nudge. Summer science to the rescue!
With the increase in the number of researchers looking for
everyday citizens to aid them in research projects, opportunities to contribute
to actual research projects right from home or the classroom are more abundant
than ever! In today’s information-rich world these opportunities are available
We have collected a few projects that span a variety of interest areas to nurture the curious indoor and outdoor kids in your life:
Join the Zooniverse (https://www.zooniverse.org/) and get
connected to projects ranging from analyzing images identifying wildlife,
analyzing images and data identifying celestial bodies, to transcribing
historical documents. These projects seek out ordinary individuals to
contribute to research, making an impact in the world. One example project is
Bash the Bug (https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/mrniaboc/bash-the-bug),
a project in which an individual analyzes the antibiotic resistance of M.
tuberculosis, helping hospitals around the world accurately predict which
antibiotics are effective at treating this disease.
National Geographic (https://www.nationalgeographic.org/idea/citizen-science-projects/)
lists several projects on their website such as bird counting projects,
monitoring light pollution with the night sky, or participating in water
quality monitoring with people from around the globe. Some of the projects such
as the Global Garlic Mustard Field Survey (https://garlicmustard.wordpress.com/)
even give teachers tips on how they can use the project in their classroom: “Educators
can offer their students an invaluable opportunity for hands-on participation
in peer-reviewed scientific research, and compare class results to the larger
dataset involving hundreds of populations.”
is a website in which students can help track seasonal changes and seasonal
migrations of different species right where they live. This site also offers
teacher resources (https://journeynorth.org/tm/educators_index.html)
to help a teacher drive discussion using data that was input by citizen
scientists just like your students.
If you want to search for projects by location,
then check out Scistarter.org. This
website connects citizen scientists to local projects. Projects range from
migration tracking to water and air quality. One project, School of Ants USA, (https://www.scistarter.org/school-of-ants-usa)
asks citizen scientists to help track ant diversity by collecting and sending
in a sample of ants.
What if you have a high school student on your hands who wants to take summer science to the next level? No problem! Citizen science projects and the associated publicly available data sets can be used by students to ask their own questions and conduct their own research. Then, they can submit their work to the Iowa Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS)!
Iowa JSHS showcases research conducted by high school
students each year to provide students with an outlet to share their work and
be recognized for their efforts. Attending the symposium provides youth with
exposure to Iowa high school research, and they also benefit from networking
opportunities with other student researchers and research professionals.
Want more information on student-led research? Be sure to
check out our previous posts on this topic!
The Belin-Blank Center is home to one of the oldest gifted education professional development programs in the country. The last week in June, 2019, the Center will have educators living on campus and immersing themselves in the field of gifted education and talent development during Belin-Blank Fellowship XXXIX! For almost 40 years, the Center has been committed to offering the coursework that educators need to earn the required Talented and Gifted Endorsement, but even more, to providing the understandings that make teachers feel much better informed about the nature and needs of gifted/talented learners as the new academic year races toward them. (Where DOES the summer go?)
opportunities listed below are offered as workshops (with no additional
technology or other fees added to the basic tuition); all of these classes that
are still available allow educators to focus on specific topics that are
beneficial to their gifted and talented learners. These are described in more detail at belinblank.org/courses:
EDTL:4074:0WKA Differentiation at the Secondary Level, July 8 – 26, emphasizing the importance of differentiation rooted in content areas, including specific strategies to strengthen secondary courses; those who attend APTTI receive the same automatic tuition scholarship for this class;
EDTL:4096:0WKF Topics:Common Core State Standards for Gifted/Talented: Mathematics, July 17 – August 6, utilizing a NAGC publication about strengthening standards developed for general education to provide differentiated learning for meaningful experiences in math for advanced learners (participants do NOT need a background in mathematics to understand the needs of their mathematically gifted youth);
RCE:4119:0WKA Family Issues in Giftedness, August 7 – 27, the last of the summer classes, designed to allow teachers to be ready to work with parents in the new school year, better understanding their concerns and planning effective ways to communicate with parents as the school year begins.
The Belin-Blank Chautauqua will begin on July 8, and will provide six classes in a hybrid format that includes two days on campus with online opportunities for reflection, reading, and final projects submitted online. The Belin-Blank Chautauqua includes three classes in Week I:
enroll at the graduate level for all three workshops in either week—or both—receive
an automatic tuition scholarship from the Belin-Blank Center for one of three
classes (i.e., three workshops for the cost of two; six for the cost of four). Chautauqua includes a lunch on Friday of each
week, provided by the Belin-Blank Center, when participants can enjoy talking
with nationally recognized leaders in gifted education.
look forward to working with you this summer; we appreciate your commitment to
the needs of gifted and talented learners!
Chautauqua I and II
feature an energizing array of one-semester-hour classes and an opportunity to
meet face-to-face with colleagues. Just
as we know it’s important for gifted students to have some time to spend with
true peers, Chautauqua provides gifted teachers time to spend with their
true peers! You can read more about this
opportunity at belinblank.org/chautauqua.
Classes are offered in a “hybrid” format, meeting for two days on
campus in Iowa City, and providing additional time online for readings,
reflection, and submission of final projects.
enroll at the graduate level for all three workshops in either week—or both—receive
an automatic tuition scholarship
from the Belin-Blank Center for one of three classes (e.g., three workshops for
the cost of two; six for the cost of four).
(July 8 – 13)
Design Innovation: Talent Development in the 21st Century, inspiring
your awareness of design principles at the heart of the way we live and work so
you can ready your gifted learners for the unknowns that their futures will
Writing for High-Ability Learners,
featuring ways to develop creative writing skills among gifted students,
enhancing both interpersonal and intrapersonal skills critical for their
success in any professional field;
Skills: Skills for Lifelong Learning, sharpening your awareness of the
factors involved in teaching thinking skills;
Chautauqua II (July
15 – 20)
Issues and Applications in Gifted Education, including an overview of
definitions of and activities that serve as catalysts for student creativity;
Bibliotherapy for the Gifted,
readying participants to select appropriate
materials for students to help them deal with the challenges of growing up
gifted (videotherapy is also considered);
Development for Gifted Programs, preparing educators to lead
professional development/learning in their own schools and/or districts in
order to provide the best programming possible.
Limited housing will be available at Currier Hall, near Blank Honors Center, for those enrolling in all
three workshops during either Chautauqua (or both). Contact Rachelle Blackwell by email or
at 800-336-6463 for registration information. Single rooms are available for $312 for Sunday
– Friday night (additional charge of $52/night for those staying Saturday and
Sunday between the two weeks). Reservations, including payment, are due by
Thursday, June 6th, 2019.
Free music performances are available in downtown Iowa City every Friday
evening. Other extracurricular
opportunities will be available for Chautauqua participants.
The Belin-Blank Center
also offers the Advanced
Placement Summer Institute in Iowa (June 25 – 28), providing teachers the
comprehensive preparation required to develop and teach an AP course. An optional two-semester-hour class,
EDTL:5080:0WKA, Teacher Training for Advanced Placement Courses, is available
for participants; participants receive an automatic
50% tuition scholarship (based on the cost of graduate tuition); participants
can choose to register for two Iowa Licensure Renewal Units as part of their
In addition to
Chautauqua, the Center is offering online only professional learning opportunities
throughout the summer, from May through August.
PSQF:4123:0EXW Academic Acceleration is a three-semester-hour class,
focused on the most effective but most underused intervention for many gifted
learners. Eight additional
one-semester-hour classes are available, each lasting three weeks and focusing
on topics significant to your gifted learners.
Details are available at belinblank.org/educators/courses.
We look forward to
working with you this summer; we appreciate your commitment to the needs of
gifted and talented learners!
We have classes available for those working on their endorsement, addressing the required strands—or for those who just want to add to their “professional toolkits.” For the summer schedule, we offer an array of opportunities to ensure that anyone new to gifted education can begin their position in the fall with confidence, and to allow the most experienced teacher of the gifted to choose from the wide variety of choices that we offer, strengthening gifted programs in the school and/or the district.
This summer, Dr. Ann Lupkowski Shoplik will offer the newly revised PSQF:4123:0EXW Academic Acceleration, from June 10 – August 1. This three-semester-hour class ensures that educators of the gifted understand the powerful research underpinning acceleration as one of the most important strategies for high-ability learners, are aware of the multiple types of acceleration available, reflect on the reasons why many teachers hold negative attitudes, and have confidence in implementing acceleration in their schools.
The summer opportunities below are one-semester-hour workshops; these classes allow educators to focus on specific topics that are beneficial to their gifted and talented learners. These are described in more detail at belinblank.org/courses:
Topics:Teaching Outside the Lines, exploring the book by the same name
to enhance creativity in the classroom;
Common Core State Standards for Gifted/Talented: English Language Art, utilizing a NAGC
publication about strengthening
standards developed for general education to provide differentiated learning
for meaningful experiences in ELA for advanced learners;
EDTL:4029:0WKA Leadership Skills for G/T Students, K – 12,
focusing on developing leadership skills (one of the categories referenced in
the definition of “gifted” in Iowa and many other states);
RCE:4125:0WKA Counseling and Psychological Needs of the
Gifted, essential for understanding unique student concerns about
socio-emotional development, career development, and attitudes toward
EDTL:4074:0WKA Differentiation at the Secondary Level,
emphasizing the importance of differentiation rooted in content areas,
including specific strategies to strengthen secondary courses;
EDTL:4096:0WKF Topics:Common Core State Standards for Gifted/Talented: Mathematics,utilizing a NAGC
publication about strengthening standards developed for general education
to provide differentiated learning for meaningful experiences in math for
advanced learners (participants do NOT need a background in mathematics to
understand the needs of their mathematically gifted youth);
RCE:4119:0WKA Family Issues in Giftedness, the last
of the summer classes, designed to allow teachers to be ready to work with
parents in the new school year, better understanding their concerns and
planning effective ways to communicate with parents as the school year begins.
The Belin-Blank Center also
offers six classes in a hybrid format that includes two days on campus with
online opportunities for reflection, reading, and final projects submitted
online. You’ll find more about these at
our page about the Belin-Blank Chautauqua (belinblank.org/chautauqua)
We look forward to
working with you this summer; we appreciate your commitment to the needs of
gifted and talented learners!
Are you starting to make summer plans? Don’t forget to add the Advanced Placement Teacher Training Institute (APTTI) into your summer schedule! This professional development opportunity takes place at the University of Iowa campus on June 25-28, 2019. Registration is now open!
APTTI is a College Board approved Advanced Placement Summer Institute (APSI). AP Summer Institutes provide subject-specific training for teachers who are interested in teaching an AP course. Summer Institutes can also support current teachers of AP courses seeking to develop their skills, or gain familiarity with the course.
“It [APTTI] not only provided me the opportunity to gain an understanding of AP-teaching, but I gained resources and new ideas that I now apply to all of my classes. “
“The training was invaluable…I find myself continually going back to my notes, looking at the resources I obtained at the training, and even emailing the facilitator who still quickly responds to me even though it has now been 2.5 years. I would not be as successful in my classroom had it not been for this training.”
The Iowa Online AP Academy (IOAPA) offers the AP Institution Grant, a grant to support Iowa teachers in attending APTTI. (Participation in IOAPA not required.) This grant will cover $450 (more than 80%) of the $550 registration fee. Click here to learn more and click here to access the grant application. This application is due June 1st, 2019.
Teachers who register for APTTI may pursue additional opportunities for graduate-level academic credit and/or Iowa licensure renewal units (additional fees and registration required). University credit is NOT included in the cost of APTTI. Click here to learn more about academic credit options!
Apply today here, and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns.
If you’re still looking for summer programs for curious middle school students, look no further! Our Junior Scholars Institute (JSI) still has limited seats available in some amazing classes. Check them out before it’s too late!
Robot Theater: Exploring with Cozmo
The focus of this class is to learn the basics of dramatic storytelling that incorporate robot technology (Cozmo, created by Anki) as part of the story. If you have written a script, story, or poem that you have been dreaming of seeing performed on stage, then this class is for you—our Cozmos will be your actors. If you have an interest in robotics and want to work with sophisticated technology, then this class is for you—Cozmo will introduce you to the world of robotics. No previous experience with writing, puppetry, theatre, or working with robots is required.
Students will be exposed to real-world environmental challenges Iowans face with an emphasis on flooding and access to clean water. Through an interactive learning environment, students will connect with professionals from a variety of related fields to learn how we prepare for, respond to, and recover from disaster events, but then also mitigate for future disasters to build community resilience. Classroom learning will be mobile and designed to engage the students in career settings providing opportunities for practicing professional development skills.
Mixed Media Workshop
Are you ready for an exciting week of action-packed art adventures? If so, this class is for you! Our week will be an exciting exploration of several different kinds of art making. You will try your hand at a variety of studio projects throughout the week. The two-dimensional art portion of the class will involve some printmaking, drawing, and painting. The stop motion animation segment will introduce you to the basics of stop-motion in the making of an awesome animation that you will shoot, edit, and create music and sound effects. You will work on individual pieces, as well as work in small groups. Exploring collaboration in small groups will allow us to put our brains together to come up with unique, creative solutions. We will go on a couple of field trips to get ideas for work and look at other artists’ work. Bring your adventurous spirit and creative brain. It’s going to be a great week of getting a little messy, learning some new techniques, getting your creative juices flowing, and challenging yourselves.
Archaeology: Discover the Past!
Ever wonder how archaeologists know where to find ancient sites? Or how rocks and bones provide them clues about how people lived? Archaeologists are scientific detectives, studying people from the past and the objects they left behind. In this course, you will learn to think like an archaeologist using scientific inquiry. We will study real artifacts in the research labs at the Office of the State Archaeologist and participate in hands-on lessons and activities to learn about Iowa’s archaeological past, from the Ice Age to the first Europeans. You will also learn how today’s Native American communities work with archaeologists to strengthen our understanding of their cultures. Part of this course will take place at an outdoor classroom at the Macbride Nature Recreation Area, where we will learn archaeology field techniques to document a real archaeological site!
Other open classes include Leadership for Students Who Want to Make a Difference,Women in Engineering, and Project Discovery: Finding Your Writer’s Voice.
Participation in your school’s talented and gifted program is not required. Payment plans and financial aid are available. If you think JSI sounds like a good fit for your student, be sure to check it out at www.belinblank.org/summer or contact Ashlee Van Fleet at email@example.com!