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Archive for April, 2011

Advance information about Atlanta Public Schools’ Xanadu summer program

April 13, 2011 Leave a comment

NOTE: This is information from 2011. For 2012 information, see the Xanadu / Summer Academy 2012 post on this blog.


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Atlanta Public Schools has released basic information about Xanadu, its annual summer program for gifted and high-achieving elementary school students.

The 2011 program will be built on the theme, “Adventures in Antarctica.” It will run from June 5 to July 1 and will be held at Parkside Elementary School. Cost for APS students is $250. The camp is open to students from outside APS, but the cost is double.

A simple flyer is posted on the APS web site now, but you can’t apply yet. The Office of Gifted and Talented Education promises to post the application by May 5.

Review: My weekend at Space Camp

April 11, 2011 Leave a comment

My son and I went to Parent / Child Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala., this weekend, and I thought I’d share a bit about the experience for those who might be considering it.

The program was 48 hours long, from Friday at noon until Sunday at noon, but it was so jam packed with activities, it felt more like a week. They really keep you busy and the days are long — 6:30 or 7 a.m. wake-up and then activities straight through until 9 or 9:30 p.m.

Having done it, I’d say Space Camp is more an adventure camp than a science / educational program. “Trainees” get to use a number of simulators that are like those used to train astronauts for missions, and they get to conduct a simulated space shuttle mission, with each child and parent playing a role on the team either in mission control or on a spacecraft. It’s exciting, but I can’t say we learned a whole lot. Yes, the staff ran through some brief information about the history of space exploration, but there was not a word about the science of it.

[Plenty of scientific information can be found in the U.S. Space & Rocket Center on the campus, so you could explore that on your own, but it would have to be before or after the camp, because you may not have more than 20 minutes to yourself during the weekend program. My point is, if your child is fascinated with the engineering side of space travel, you have to ask yourself whether it’s worth the $399 per person for the camp or whether you’d be better off just visiting the museum for a day or two.]

Parent / Child Space Camp accepts kids ages 7-11, but my personal take is that it’s probably better for the 9-11 crowd than for 7- and 8-year-olds. The nature of the activities and the length of the days seems a bit much for kids still in the primary grades, although I’ll admit that the 7-year-olds who attended with us (my son included) seemed very happy and showed no signs of fatigue, so maybe my concern about the long days and late bedtimes is misplaced.

If you have an anxious child or a child too young for regular Space Camp, where the minimum age is 9, the family camp is a way to give them the experience in an atmosphere where they have you with them to make them feel more secure. To make the most of the program, though, the parent or adult who is participating should be more than a chaperon. If they’re adventurous enough to try the activities, too, you’ll get more out of the weekend.

The staff was friendly, although not always as knowledgeable as I would have liked. In those rare cases where they were talking about the history of the program, it seemed there were some kids in our group who knew as much as or more than the staff members. I also ran into some issues during the camp where things did not run as smoothly as I would have expected, given their 30 years of experience running camps. That was disappointing.

If you are thinking about going, you should know that you’ll be staying in a “habitat,” which is a large building designed to look like a space station. The living quarters are quite spartan — bunks with thin mattresses, community bathrooms, doors that close but don’t lock, no windows in the bunk rooms. You also may be assigned roommates from your camp group. The whole experience brings to mind a military boot camp, minus any harsh drill instructors, of course. If that is a deal breaker for you, you can book a room at the Marriott hotel on the property and still take part in the camp. It’ll just add to your cost.

Final analysis: Good fun, great for the astronaut wanna-be, not so educational.

Solar astronomy workshop at Tellus Museum

April 8, 2011 1 comment

Mom always said, “Don’t look at the sun!” Good advice, unless you’re at a solar astronomy workshop at the Tellus Museum in Cartersville.

On Saturday, April 23, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., kids 8 and up can observe the sun using solar telescopes. The workshop also includes a lecture by a Tellus scientist.

The program costs $25 for non-members, and all children must be accompanied by an adult, who also has to pay for admission to the museum.

I’m not sure why this workshop isn’t listed on the Tellus web site as of this posting, but I called to verify it’s happening. To register, call the museum at (770) 606-5700.

Categories: Enrichment

Registration starts today for Science Night Out at Fernbank

April 6, 2011 Leave a comment

Fernbank Science Center will host its next Science Night Out on Friday, May 6. The theme for the program is, “Things that Wiggle, Squiggle, Creep and Crawl.”

Science Night Out is aimed at science lovers in 3rd – 6th grades. The program runs from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Registration, which is done only by U.S. Mail, is $15 for one child and $10 for additional siblings. The class will be filled on a first come, first served basis.

Categories: Enrichment

Atlanta Young Writer’s Institute programs for serious writers

April 3, 2011 Leave a comment

High-school students can learn about the craft of writing from pros, then put what they’ve learned to work in the Summer Intensive program offered by the Atlanta Young Writer’s Institute.

During this two-week workshop, rising 10th to 12th graders will learn about different literary genres, then will write a chapter of a novel, a one-act play, a short story or a collection of poems.

This year’s intensive will be held June 6-17, 2011, at Agnes Scott College. Applications are being accepted now on a rolling admission basis. The class size is limited to 16.

Meanwhile, students can get a taste of AYWI at a fiction and poetry slam seminar, which will be held April 23 at Decatur High School. The event, which is open to middle- and high-school students, is a combination of instruction and open mic reading. See AYWI’s upcoming events page for registration information.

Apply now for NASA summer program

April 1, 2011 1 comment

Rising 1st-12th graders can apply now to the Science, Engineering, Math and Aerospace Academy (SEMAA) summer program, a science and technology enrichment program. The program is sponsored by NASA, which also provides guidelines for the program; however, the local SEMAA programs are not actually run by NASA.

This free, one-week program will be held July 11-15, 2011 at Cedar Grove Middle School, a DeKalb County school. It is operated by the Fernbank Science Center. But don’t let the DeKalb connections fool you — kids don’t have to be DeKalb County students to apply.

Class size is limited to 20 students per grade level, and spaces are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Applications must be sent by fax, mailed by U.S. mail or submitted in person. The application was posted today and will only be up until April 15, 2011.

Categories: Summer programs