Enrichment opportunities are a great way to encourage gifted children’s love of learning and expose them to information and ideas not covered in the general school curriculum.
On this page, you’ll find classes, programs and venues in and around Atlanta. Not all of these are exclusively for children who have been formally identified as gifted, but all are great resources to challenge and engage bright minds.
Saturday School for Scholars and Leaders: Georgia State University has operated this program for gifted-identified students in grades K-8 since 1975. Courses range from architecture to anatomy to film making. While the kids are in classes, parents can attend informational sessions on topics related to gifted children.
K.I.D.S. (Kids Interested in Discovering Science): These single-day programs for students in 2nd-12th grades are held at Georgia Tech. Over the course of three hours, students will rotate to three, one-hour sessions. Hands-on activities are designed to build kids’ enthusiasm for science, mathematics, engineering and technology.
Ben Carson Academy: Operated by the Morehouse School of Medicine, this science academy gives kids in 4th-8th grades the chance to explore scientific concepts with hands-on activities. Classes are held on Saturdays.
IMPACT Science: (Note: This grant-funded program is not available now, but may be again in the future.) These Saturday afternoon classes for grades K-8 are held at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton. Scientific topics range from water and gravity to forensics.
Atlanta Young Writers Institute: The institute helps adolescent writers learn the craft of writing and find their unique literary voices. Offers a variety of classes, programs and events.
Callanwolde Fine Arts Center: This non-profit, community arts center in northeast Atlanta offers classes and summer camps in the fine arts, including visual art, dance, music, photography and writing. The center also hosts concerts, gallery shows and community programs. If you want to lead your children by example, Callanwolde offers adult classes, too.
Start : Code: Computer programming classes in the Decatur area for students in grades 6-12. Classes are offered after school, on weekends, or during weekdays for homeschool students.
Imagine That: After-school, homeschool and weekend classes, as well as school vacation camps and parents’ night out programs. Topics offered include art, science and technology. For kids from preschool to middle school.
Museums / Venues
Fernbank Museum of Natural History: Exhibits at this Decatur museum include dinosaurs, shells, ancient pottery and an IMAX theater.
Fernbank Science Center: Located in Decatur and operated by DeKalb County Schools, Fernbank is home to a natural science museum, an observatory, and a planetarium that puts on shows for all ages year round.
Tellus Science Museum: This vast museum in Cartersville — just off I-75 — offers something for just about any science-minded kid. Exhibits include fossils, minerals, transportation technology, a solar house, a fossil dig and a planetarium.
Atlanta History Center: Located in Buckhead, this museum offers programming on a variety of historical topics. The center also includes a research library with archival information about Atlanta and the South.
Atlanta Botanical Garden: Adjacent to Piedmont Park in Midtown, these extensive gardens provide an up-close look at a variety of plants from different climates, including a large collection of orchids. The gardens also include an amphibian exhibit and — for those interested in plant science — a tissue culture lab where new plants are grown from a small amount of plant matter. Atlanta Botanical Garden also offers occasional classes.
The National Archives at Atlanta: This branch of the National Archives, located in Morrow, has exhibits and occasional programs, and offers access to thousands of government documents that can be used to explore the history of the region.
Observatory at Georgia Perimeter College: Open house hours the second Saturday night of every month. Telescope also can be used by appointment.
The Wylde Center: Kids can explore the public gardens in this Decatur center, formerly known as the Oakhurst Community Garden. Classes are also available.
Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra: Established in 1974 under the auspices of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the ASYO performs in Symphony Hall at the Woodruff Arts Center. Open to students age 13-18. Auditions are held in September.
Atlanta Youth Wind Symphony: Founded in 1988 at Emory University, the AYWS is open to students who play wind instruments or percussion. The symphony plays collegiate and professional level pieces. Most members are in 11th or 12th grade. Auditions are held in August.
Odyssey of the Mind: Students from kindergarten through college compete in this international celebration of creative thinking. Teams of 2-7 kids work together to develop solutions to theatrical or engineering challenges, then present their solutions at regional, state and world competitions. The metro Atlanta regional competition, held each spring in Lilburn, typically draws 125-150 teams.
Destination Imagination: An international program for kids of all ages. Teams of up to 7 kids take on challenges, then present what they’ve done at regional, state and global competitions. DI is similar to Odyssey of the Mind, but is smaller than Odyssey here in Georgia — although it is gaining ground here and is very active in other parts of the country. I’ve had personal experience running teams in Odyssey and D.I. and found the D.I. experience much more rewarding for the kids and me.
For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST): This organization offers activities to inspire interest in science and technology. FIRST’s competitive leagues start with a junior LEGO league for kids in K-3rd grade and go up to robotics and technology competitions for high-school students.
Team America Rocketry Challenge: In this annual competition, students in grades 7-12 build and launch model rockets. Top performing teams from local competitions are invited to Washington, D.C. to compete for cash and scholarships and the opportunity to participate in NASA’s advanced rocketry program. Registration is open each fall.
Future Problem Solving Program International: Encourages students to apply creative problem solving to real-world scenarios. Students in grades 4-12, working independently or in small groups, research a problem, devise a number of possible solutions, then use critical thinking to choose the best of their possible solutions. A separate, non-competitive division is open to students in grades K-9. Information on local activities available at the Georgia FPSP page.
Links on this page verified 8/9/2013.