It’s that time again: Firefly Watch

June 7, 2019 Leave a comment

I’ve been noticing fireflies in the evenings the past week or two. That reminds me, it’s time again for Firefly Watch.

This is a low-commitment, fun way to involve children in citizen science. If you can spend a minimum of 10 minutes a week observing fireflies in your back yard, you can take part in this project that helps Tufts University researchers track firefly populations across North America. It’s easy to do, and the web site letsĀ  you compare your data with what observers in other regions are seeing.

Firefly Watch began in 2008 as a program of the Museum of Science in Boston. It’s now part of Mass Audubon. Participation is free.

Categories: Enrichment

New, private high school for self-motivated learners

May 27, 2019 Leave a comment

Coming to the Atlanta area this fall: Sora Schools, a private high school catering to students who want to create their own educational path.

Sora Schools is for self-directed students, especially those with a passion that falls outside the bounds of traditional academics. Examples include computer science, writing or film-making.

At Sora Schools, students complete personal projects that utilize their passion and incorporate other academic elements, keeping them engaged while ensuring they’re exposed to a broad education.

School is mostly conducted online, with students meeting in person once a week in the Dunwoody area.

Spaces are available for the 2019-2020 school year.

Categories: In the schools

Summer day camps at UWG

May 17, 2019 Leave a comment

The University of West Georgia will offer a number of day camps this summer at its Carrollton and Newnan campuses.

Camps are offered for children as young as 5 (rising kindergarten) through teens. Camp themes include dinosaurs, STEM, ocean life, art and movie making.

The camps are described as fun with a touch of academic content.

Categories: Summer programs

Summer program in Gwinnett for elementary and middle school students

May 1, 2019 Leave a comment

The Gwinnett Alliance for Gifted Education (GAGE) will offer two weeks of its Summer Exploration Program this summer.

The camp is open to rising 1st through 8th graders. Campers choose a morning class and an afternoon class. Topics include brain teasers, event planning, food science, criminal justice, games, and more. Each class is taught by a certified teacher.

Summer Exploration Program camps will be held June 3-7 at Partee Elementary School in Snellville, and June 10-14 at Arcado Elementary School in Lilburn. The registration deadline is May 24, 2019.

Students don’t have to be enrolled in Gwinnett County Public Schools to attend the GAGE camps.

Categories: Summer programs

Major birdwatching event this Saturday

April 30, 2019 Leave a comment

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology invites anyone interested in birds or citizen science to take part in its annual Global Big Day this Saturday, May 4.

By participating, you’ll be joining tens of thousands of other birders around the world who are making note of birds they see. As with other citizen-science birding events, Global Big Day helps scientists see patterns in bird populations and migrations.

You can be part of Global Big Day by watching for birds for as little as 10 minutes, anytime during the day, at any location — although if you’re looking for a birding hot spot, the Cornell Lab can make suggestions.


Categories: Enrichment

Summer music camp at Clayton State

April 15, 2019 Leave a comment

Spivey Hall at Clayton State University will offer a music camp this summer for students rising to grades 4-7.

Campers will sing in a chorus, play percussion and chimes, and learn folk dances, in addition to other social and artistic activities. Musical experience isn’t required to attend the camp, but campers should be enthusiastic about making music with others.

The camp will be held June 10-14, 2019, on the Clayton State University campus. Registration is open now. Enrollment is limited to 45 students.

Categories: Summer programs

Update on Dual Enrollment bill

April 11, 2019 Leave a comment

HB 444, which would have created new guidelines and limitations for Georgia’s Dual Enrollment program — see my prior post for details — was tabled in the Georgia Senate and was not passed into law.

The Senate Higher Education Committee had written a substitute version of the bill, which made some noteworthy adjustments to the version that had been passed by the House. Among them:

  • Ninth and tenth graders could take Dual Enrollment classes at four-year colleges and universities, but only online — not in person on the college campuses. (In the House version, freshmen and sophomores would be ineligible for Dual Enrollment.)
  • Dual Enrollment would be capped at 32 semester hours total, with a maximum of 16 semester hours in any one semester. (The House version of the bill would cap the hours at 30.)
  • The Senate’s version eliminated all language about tapping into a student’s HOPE Scholarship allotment to pay for Dual Enrollment courses beyond the cap of 32 total semester hours. Instead, those additional classes — referred to in the bill as “noncovered dual credit courses” — would be paid at the student’s own expense.

Based on feedback I received in response to my prior post, I imagine the gifted community would prefer the eligibility of freshmen and sophomores that’s contained in the Senate version of the bill, even though it provides for online Dual Enrollment classes only.

Where I think parents of gifted kids won’t be happy with the Senate version is the removal of the option to use HOPE funds to pay for Dual Enrollment. Last month, I heard from some parents who were vehemently against the idea of having extra Dual Enrollment hours charged against their HOPE allotment. I’m guessing they’ll be even unhappier with having out-of-pocket payment as the only option for students who complete much of their high-school coursework by taking college courses.

Personally, I saw the use of HOPE funds as a reasonable compromise. While I recognize there are some highly gifted, highly mature students who are more suited to take their high-school classes in a college setting, I don’t think the state of Georgia should be on the hook to pay for more than one college degree for any student.

Those who contacted me seemed to hold the position that for their children, the Dual Enrollment classes weren’t really a college degree program, but rather a substitute high-school education with a level of rigor that wasn’t being provided through their public school. I sympathize with these parents, but I think that battle should be taken to the public schools, which need to offer appropriate education for all students. If a student truly is ready for full-time, college-level work on a college campus at 15 or 16, then yes, they should be allowed to “Move on When Ready,” to use the former name of Dual Enrollment. However, in doing so, they are in fact moving on to college, essentially skipping high school, and under that circumstance, I think it’s completely appropriate that they utilize the HOPE Scholarship as they embark on their college education.

As I wrote in my previous post, the state wants to adjust the Dual Enrollment program because its popularity is busting its allocated budget. For that reason, I’d expect the legislature to take this up again in the 2020 session.

If this is an important issue to you, I suggest you don’t wait until January of next year to give your input. Use the legislative off-season to contact legislators with your opinions and suggestions. This would include the bill’s sponsors, all of whom are listed on the bill’s dedicated page, and members of the House Education Committee and Senate Higher Education Committee. If one of these legislators is your elected representative, start there. If not, I suggest you contact one of the bill’s sponsors with your perspective.


Categories: Advocacy and policy