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This Wednesday: Learn about the animals of Georgia’s barrier islands

September 21, 2020 Leave a comment

Take a virtual tour of Georgia’s barrier islands with Dr. Tony Martin, a paleontologist and ichnologist (that means he studies the tracks and traces that animals leave behind; yes, I had to look it up). He’ll show examples of animal markings and talk about what we can learn from them.

The event will be this Wednesday, Sept. 23, at 12:15 p.m., on Facebook live (on the Tellus Museum Facebook page) and YouTube live (on Tellus Museum’s YouTube channel). It’s part of Tellus Museum’s ongoing “Lunch + Learn” series.

You’re invited to submit questions about fossils or tracks on the event page ahead of time.

Categories: Enrichment

Emory Math Circle goes virtual this fall

September 8, 2020 Leave a comment

Emory Math Circle is a place for kids who think math is cool.

Students in grades 6 to 12 use games, puzzles and problems to look more deeply at how math works and discover fundamental advanced math concepts. Groups are taught by Ph.D. students from the Emory Department of Mathematics and Computer Science.

This fall, Math Circle will meet on Saturdays — about twice a month — via Zoom.

Interested students have until September 16 to register. The program is free, although donations are appreciated.

Categories: Enrichment

Online STEAM mini-workshops from Georgia Tech

August 4, 2020 Leave a comment

Georgia Tech’s CEISMC program has scheduled a series of single-day workshops this month, covering a variety of STEAM topics:

  • Kirigami: The Art of Paper Engineering (Grades 6-8)
  • Design Your Own Board Game Using the Engineering Design Process (Grades 6-8)
  • Game Creation with Micro:bit (Grades 6-8)
  • Game Creation Using Scratch (Grades 4-5)
  • Human Powered Generator (Grades 6-8)

Each workshop lasts two hours. Cost is $18 per workshop, plus supplies, which you have to purchase on your own.

Categories: Enrichment

VOX looking for teen staff, teen voices, teen opinions

July 24, 2020 Leave a comment

For more than 25 years, VOX has been supporting the self-expression of Atlanta’s teens through print and online publications. Here are three ways Atlanta teens can get involved with VOX right now:

  1. VOX is now accepting applications for its fall 2020 teen staff. The programming year will start with virtual meetings only. Activities may move to in-person as circumstances allow.
  2. VOX is running its Atlanta Teen Survey to find out what’s on teens’ minds. They use the survey results to guide VOX programming. They also share this information with people who work with teens.
  3. Teens are always invited to submit their original stories, art or poetry to VOX’s Atlanta Teen Voices.
Categories: Enrichment

Webinar tomorrow about Mary Baldwin University’s early college for gifted girls

July 14, 2020 Leave a comment

Mary Baldwin University’s Program for the Exceptionally Gifted (PEG) gives highly gifted girls ages 13 to 16 the chance to forgo high school and enter college early, working toward a 4-year degree while living on MBU’s campus in Virginia.

PEG will host a webinar about its program tomorrow, July 15, at 6 p.m. (Sorry for the late notice — I only got word of the event this evening.) The web conference will provide information about admissions, academics and financial aid, and give a tour of the residence hall. No registration is needed to attend the webinar; simply sign on when it starts.

Categories: Beyond K-12

Online summer program from Vanderbilt University

June 25, 2020 Leave a comment

In lieu of its usual residential summer program, Vanderbilt Programs for Talented Youth (PTY) is offering an online summer academy for rising 8th through 12th graders.

PTY Online Academy is open to students who have scored in the top 5 percent (approximately) on a standardized test. Courses are two weeks long and include biochemistry, rhetoric, psychology, astronomy, and moral leadership, among others.

Classes will meet daily online from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern, with additional individual or group assignments in the afternoons. Social opportunities are offered in the evenings.

Registration for July sessions is taking place now. Program fee is $550 per two-week course. Financial assistance may be available.

Categories: Summer programs

Gifted education and racial justice

June 10, 2020 1 comment

Racial inequity has been one of the top concerns in the American gifted education community for years. Here in Georgia, we have it better than some, because Georgia law requires that every public school student identified as gifted must be provided with gifted instruction. In other states, that’s not the case, and in some cities — most prominent among them New York City — there aren’t nearly enough spaces in the highly coveted gifted schools for all the children who need gifted instruction. Yet even in Georgia, questions remain about whether the processes used to identify gifted children are fair to minority children.

Today, I share an opinion piece about why access to gifted education is essential to the pursuit of racial justice. This essay, written by Colin Seale, was originally posted on Seale’s web site, thinkLaw, and is posted in full here with permission from the author.

Black Lives Matter. Black Minds Matter, Too:
The Case for Prioritizing Equity in Gifted Education
as an Urgent Racial Justice Issue

by Colin Seale

It is unacceptable that the question of whether Black lives matter is still a question. It is impossible to silence the screams and cries of the fed up after the unspeakable and unjustifiable killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless other Black lives lost to police officers and wannabe police officers. But these screams and tears have echoed in my heart since I was 16 years old. 

This pain started when I was 16 years old because that is when police officers stopped and frisked me around the corner from my home in Brooklyn, NY. I was one of few Black students attending the prestigious Bronx High School of Science (where there are even fewer today) and I was getting ready to start an exciting summer enrichment program the next day. But none of that mattered when I was up against a brick wall being searched and aggressively questioned about where I was coming from and where I was going. It might not sound like much to be questioned about where you are coming from and where you are going. But I was taught that I was free. Yet, I still had to very respectfully justify my movements to angry men as the only way out of the shamefully deadly crime of walking while Black. This moment permanently stripped me of my full humanity. This idea of America, this promise that lit up my family’s eyes in the depths of their dark struggle to immigrate to the United States was betrayed. This firm belief that their American children will be entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that all will be well if you just do the right thing, was shattered.  

There is something about this notion of an unfulfilled promise that leads me beyond the criminal justice system. As a teacher-by-day, law student-by-night, I was grateful for the incredible volunteer experience of spending time with brilliant young people who were amazing problem solvers, brilliant at thinking on their toes, and born leaders. These mostly Black, Brown, and overwhelmingly poor youth were, without question, the most entrepreneurial, analytical, and persuasive young minds I had ever come across. I could not figure out, however, how these brilliant young minds ended up juvenile detention. My semester as a student attorney for my law school’s juvenile justice clinic showed that we are leaving genius on the table. There are no doubts about the promise these youth showed, but their promise was going unfulfilled. I watched enough commercials for the United Negro College Fund to understand that a mind is a terrible thing to waste. Yet, here I stood, seeing brilliant minds needlessly placed in cages. 

This confined brilliance felt familiar. It reminded me of what it felt like to constantly be labeled as having “poor self-control” and to always find myself in some sort of trouble in kindergarten and first grade. These challenges miraculously disappeared when tests for my speech impediment and behavior challenges revealed that I should have been in gifted and talented classes since I was in kindergarten. My part of Brooklyn did not have an elementary school with a gifted program, so I was bussed to a different school as one of twelve students in my grade level with access to this transformational experience. Transformational is not an exaggeration, because the same behaviors that would have eventually landed me in juvenile detention were required in my gifted classroom. Walking around and interacting with my peers was meaningful collaboration, not goofing off. Questioning the teacher was intellectual curiosity, not badgering. Telling the teacher there was a better way to do something was effective advocacy, not willful defiance. I was still, surely, subject to the injustices of a systemically racist school system and society. But my mind was free. 

A free mind gave me the privilege to ask questions. Questions like why did I have to get bussed to a school to have access to rigorous and challenging instruction grounded in critical thinking? And why were there only 12 of us in this program when there were brilliant young minds in every single classroom? Education equity advocates in New York City are outraged at the dismal numbers of Black and Brown students admitted to Bronx Science and the 8 other specialized high schools. But when there are over 400 high schools in New York City, what does it mean, really, when “success” means you make a child like me commute 90 minutes each way from Brooklyn to the Bronx? 

Black lives matter. But if we are to truly live, don’t our brains matter, too? I understand and deeply resonate with the cry of “stop killing us.” But I cannot ever be content with simply having permission to exist. Descartes’ revelation that “I think, therefore I am” speaks to the need that mere survival is not enough. The Notorious B.I.G.’s observation “my mind’s my nine, my pen’s my MAC 10” goes a bit further, speaking to the unquestionable power of a brilliant, expressive mind. The reality is, access to critical thinking matters now more than ever. We need to unlock brilliance any and everywhere it exists. The survival of our world depends on it.  

Unfortunately, the same racial injustices that treat Black lives as unworthy also treat our minds as inferior. My existence in advanced academic programs was inseparable from the broader conversation, then and now, about equity and access in gifted education. The glaring underrepresentation of Black students in gifted education means that at the moment we need critical thinkers more than ever, we are still deciding to treat critical thinking as a luxury good. The critical thinking gap in our education system results in an underclass of students who get taught what to think while the most “elite” students in the most “elite” schools learn how to think. I am sick and tired of seeing Black folks with brilliant minds behind bars. I am even more sick and tired of the more systemic challenge of denying brilliant Black minds access to educational opportunities that keep their minds in cages. 

With the economic crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic estimated to force massive cuts to education budgets nationwide, a compelling case for treating gifted education as an issue of racial justice must be made. The common, but false, belief that gifted learners will be “just fine” already leads school systems to shift resources away from students who subjectively need these resources more. Even before this crisis, Seattle Public Schools eliminated their gifted and talented, and New York City discussed doing the same in the name of equity. This is not equity. 

A racial justice agenda in education must be committed to the full liberation of Black minds. This means that there need to be more, not fewer gifted and talented program opportunities in schools serving high numbers of students who are typically denied access. More, not fewer, advanced academic offerings at all middle and high schools serving large numbers of Black students. Equity means that education systems shift their focus to serving all students to unlocking the excellence of each student. This means that we need to hold several ideas in our heads at the same time.  

First, we must accept that all students have gifts, but not all students are gifted. Second, gifted students and advanced learners exist everywhere and deserve a right to experience an academic challenge every single day. Third, all students can and should benefit from gifted and talented teaching strategies, but gifted learners require services to meet their specific learning needs just like any other exceptional student population. Fourth, gifted education identification practices and service delivery remain deeply problematic across the country and must be improved. Fifth, fighting for equity should never result in an outcome where everyone gets nothing, even if the equity issues are not being resolved rapidly enough. These five considerations must be addressed in concert, so we can stop leaving genius on the table. Racial justice means we stop talking about simply closing achievement gaps and start talking about shattering achievement ceilings.

This is not just about Black students.  It also makes little sense that we have English Language Learners who are thinking in multiple languages, navigating across multiple cultures, and piecing together complex puzzles all day every day. Gifted education representation challenges and the availability of gifted programming for Native American students and students in poverty, everywhere, are additional examples of areas access and equity must be expanded.  

One of the most important moments in our lives is the moment we realize that our unique power, unique qualifications, and the opportunity to take advantage of opportunities put us in a unique position to make a unique difference in our world. It hurts me to the core that so many of our young people will never get to experience this moment based on nothing else but the color of their skin. Black lives matter. But we cannot ever forget that Black minds matter, too.  

Categories: Advocacy and policy

Two virtual STEM camps just for girls

May 29, 2020 Leave a comment

Girls’ under-representation in STEM careers has led to the formation of numerous programs and organizations to encourage girls’ interest in STEM.

Two such groups are offering online camps:

  • PROJECT SCIENTIST. This California-based organization ordinarily holds camps for girls on university campuses. This summer, they’re providing week-long camps online, starting at the end of June. Topics include robotics, DNA, energy, and more. Open to ages 4-12. Each weekly session costs $325, which includes 3 hours of programming each day and a virtual lab kit for conducting hands-on experiments. (Use discount code PS2020-20OFF to get $20 off.) Financial aid is available. Scholarship applications must be submitted by June 7.
  • STEM GEMS. This Atlanta-based group is focused on giving girls female role models who work in STEM careers, so that girls can envision and plan for their futures as STEM professionals. This four-day online camp is open to girls who are entering 6th through 9th grades. Cost is $250, which includes a copy of founder Stephanie Espy’s book, STEM Gems.
Categories: Summer programs

DeKalb County moves summer gifted program online

May 28, 2020 2 comments

The DeKalb County School District has long provided a week-long enrichment program called Serendipity to its gifted elementary-age students. This year, Serendipity will be a live, virtual program, June 15-19, 2020.

Enrichment activities will include art, Spanish language, drama, and physical education.

Serendipity is open to rising 1st through 6th graders who are enrolled in a DeKalb County public school.

Categories: Summer programs

Harvard offers online courses, lots of them free

May 7, 2020 Leave a comment

Harvard University has nearly 200 online courses in the humanities, social sciences, computer science, mathematics and more, with many offered at no charge.

Among the class topics are classical music, Shakespeare, religion, the science of cooking, game development, ancient Egypt, probability, Japanese scroll art, architecture, rhetoric, neuroscience, and bioethics . . . plus a lot more.

Categories: Enrichment