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PTY Online Academy Courses

We will continue to offer virtual programs this summer through PTY Online Academy (rising 3rd through 12th grades). Summer courses for PTY Online Academy will be announced Friday, March 19 and the application will open March 30.

We are glad you are interested in PTY Online Academy! In the sections below, families may view the course titles, descriptions, meeting times, as well as availability for each of the upcoming PTY Online Academy sessions. Please note that synchronous course meeting times vary by course. The meeting time for each course is listed with the course description in the sections below.

Course Availability Key:

full- no longer accepting applications
full- waiting list only
available- limited space
available

Course availability will be updated on a weekly basis, starting 2-3 weeks after the application opens. If you submit an application for PTY Online Academy within 2-3 weeks of the application opening, please note that course availability may not be up-to-date on this page. Please contact our office at 615-322-8261 or pty.peabody@vanderbilt.edu if you have questions about availability or the length of the waiting list for a particular course.

Please select a session to jump to the course descriptions and class times for that session. Please note that courses and descriptions are subject to change.

Summer 2021

Session 1: June 7-18, 2021 | Session 2: June 21-July 2, 2021

Session 3: July 12-23, 2021

Session 1: June 7-18, 2021

Rising 3rd & 4th Grade
Rising 5th & 6th Grade
Rising 7th & 8th GradeRising 9th & 10th GradeRising 11th & 12th Grade
Creative Contraptions (Week 1)
Cryptology 101 (Week 2)
Neuroscience 101Debate and Rhetoric
Intro to Public Policy
Mathematical Physics

Choose a grade level below to view the course descriptions and class meeting times. All class meeting times are in Central Time.

Rising 3rd/4th Grade

Creative Contraptions
Week 1: June 7-11, 2021
Class Meeting Time: 9:00am-12:00pm CT | Office Hour: 12:30-1:30pm CT
Instructor: Karen Tyson | View Instructor Bio

Do you have chores to do at home? Do you want to make your work easier? Perhaps you want to become the world’s next inventor. How do you come up with good ideas and go past the brainstorming stage to apply these ideas to the creation process? Maybe you have heard the phrase “Necessity is the mother of invention”? What does that mean? In this class, we will conduct investigations to learn more about simple and compound machines and how these machines can make work easier. We will learn about famous inventors, their lives, and how they came up with ideas for their creations. Then, it’s your turn! Apply what you have learned to design, create, and test your own invention that solves a problem or makes your life or work easier. Who knows, you may be the next Shark Tank sensation!

*Course adapted from an evidence-supported curriculum, Invitation to Invent, from the College of William and Mary.

Code Breakers: Cryptology 101
Week 2: June 14-18, 2021
Class Meeting Time: 9:00am-12:00pm CT | Office Hour: 12:30-1:30pm CT
Instructor: Jennifer Holt | View Instructor Bio

Reverse Trail, Ceasar Ciphers, Shift codes – Oh my! In this exciting interdisciplinary unit that uses the children’s book, “The Eleventh Hour” by Graeme Base as our guide, we will become code breakers who can not only solve the mystery of who stole the feast but can solve other puzzles that come our way! We will be able to use basic cryptology ciphers, and we will also look at how the universal code of place value and mathematics helps us communicate our thinking. The mathematics behind encoding and decoding information is one of technology’s hottest careers! Encryption plays a huge role in our society, protecting our electronic information. Cryptology is the study of secret codes and ciphers that involve encoding and decoding information. We will study ancient number systems like the Babylonians used, Roman Numerals, and the base 2 system used in computer coding to unlock secret messages and discover how mathematicians must universally understand the language of numbers to communicate effectively.

Rising 5th/6th Grade

Neuroscience 101
June 7-18, 2021 (M-F)
Class Meeting Time: 10:00am-1:00pm CT | Office Hour: 1:30-2:30pm CT
Instructor: Pietra Bruni | View Instructor Bio

Do you ever wonder how your brain learns and stores information? So do neuroscientists! This class will introduce you to the science of the most marvelous, and mystifying, component of the human body — the brain. In this class, we will explore how the brain works and interacts with other body systems to support life. We will learn about the important neurotransmitters in your brain and how they contribute to your emotions, learning, and overall health. We will then apply our new understanding of the brain to learn about research in this exciting field. We may even have the chance to virtually visit state of the art labs to see neuroscientists at work. As neuroscientists-in-training, you and your classmates will put your new knowledge of brain function and the ways neuroscientists conduct research to develop hypotheses, analyze data, and draw conclusions about how the brain learns new information. Get ready to learn about one of the fastest-growing and exciting scientific fields– neuroscience! Come ready to engage, think critically, and contribute to science in this collaborative, hands-on course.

Rising 7th/8th Grade

Debate and Rhetoric: The Art of Argument
June 7-18, 2021 (M-F)
Class Meeting Time: 10:00am-1:00pm CT | Office Hour: 1:30-2:30pm CT
Instructor: David Lee | View Instructor Bio

Do you want to be a better public speaker? Are you curious how someone understands what is true and what is hyperbole? Do you want to explore techniques experts of rhetoric and debate use to effectively research and organize arguments when they have massive amounts of information to make sense of? In this class, you will learn how to conduct research, develop and organize arguments, adapt persuasive appeals to specific audiences, and, perhaps even change minds. Through the use of logical arguments and appropriate evidence, you will learn how to defend your viewpoints, persuade your friends, and influence people. Just like any skill, the art of persuasion takes practice. By exploring specific types of fallacies that can negatively impact your ability to persuade, we will become more aware of the principles great debaters and public speakers use to present their points. We will also analyze arguments in context as we learn basic rhetorical theories and apply them to speeches from history and current events. Become a more involved and informed citizen, a better public speaker, and a critical consumer of information as you learn the art of the persuasive argument.

Note: Multiple perspectives (both popular and unpopular) will be examined and discussed for the purpose of building critical thinking skills and understanding or critiquing multiple viewpoints and data (or lack thereof) as well as incorporating and responding to classmates’ views and ideas. The ideas, readings and discussions are not necessarily the expressed views of the instructor, PTY, or VU. While we encourage students to engage in the orderly and civil exchange of diverse ideas and opinions, we expect that they will do so in a respectful way so that all participants feel welcome and safe.

Rising 9th/10th Grade

Introduction to Public Policy
June 7-18, 2021 (M-F)
Class Meeting Time: 10:00am-1:00pm CT | Office Hour: 1:30-2:30pm CT
Instructor: Walt Ecton | View Instructor Bio

What impact do statistics and past history have on future policy initiatives? What are the unintended versus unanticipated consequences of creating policy? How does one negotiate public opinion and quantitative data into a well-crafted policy when the two conflict? Step into the role of a policy analyst and examine key issues through the lens of social science and economics. Participate in policy debate and support your arguments using both classical and emerging political theory, historical precedent, public opinion, and quantitative analysis. Be prepared to grapple with current political topics such as healthcare, taxation, education and foreign policy. Together we will leverage theory and technical skill to engage contemporary hot-button policy issues.

Note: Multiple perspectives (both popular and unpopular) will be examined and discussed for the purpose of building critical thinking skills and understanding or critiquing multiple viewpoints and data as well as incorporating and responding to classmates’ views and ideas. The ideas, readings and discussions are not necessarily the expressed views of the instructor, PTY, or VU. While we encourage students to engage in the orderly and civil exchange of diverse ideas and opinions, we expect that they will do so in a respectful way so that all participants feel welcome and safe.

Rising 11th/12th Grade

Mathematical Physics: An Introduction to Special Relativity
June 7-18, 2021 (M-F)
Class Meeting Time: 10:00am-1:00pm CT | Office Hour: 1:30-2:30pm CT
Instructor: Brian Luczak | View Instructor Bio

What would happen if we boarded a rocket ship moving closer and closer to the speed of light? Do our physical notions of time, length, and simultaneous events break down? In the early 1900s, physicists such as Albert Einstein pondered these questions, but it was with the help of some clever mathematics that he was able to accurately describe the theory of Special Relativity. In this course, we will develop these mathematical tools and focus on the intricate connections between math and physics. How does math help us explain our physical theories? And in turn, how do our physical theories lead to new questions in mathematics? By the end of the course, you will use these tools to explain a new physical phenomenon and design a futuristic experiment to test your results.

Prerequisites: Precalculus required and familiarity with introductory physics necessary. Having dedicated calculus experience is a bonus, but not required.

Session 2: June 21-July 2, 2021

Rising 3rd/4th Grade
Rising 5th/6th Grade
Rising 7th/8th Grade
Rising 9th/10th GradeRising 11th/12th Grade
Aquatic Ecology (Week 1)
Ecological Expedition (Week 2)
Debate & RhetoricUnderstanding Human BehaviorResearch Methods in Clinical PsychIntro to Medicine
Treating the Whole Person

Choose a grade level below to view the course descriptions and class meeting times. All class meeting times are in Central Time.

Rising 3rd/4th Grade

Aquatic Ecology
Week 1: June 21-25, 2021
Class Meeting Time: 12:00-3:00pm CT | Office Hour: 3:30-4:30pm CT
Instructor: Karen Tyson | View Instructor Bio

Oh no! Your local pond used to be a thriving habitat for diverse aquatic plants and animals, but unexpectedly the water has turned brown and sludgy and all the fish are dying. What is happening to the pond? Come along as we uncover the mystery of what, or who, is behind the destruction of this watery ecosystem and decide how to clean up the mess. In this problem-based course, you’ll take on the role of a scientist as you investigate aquatic ecosystems and all of the ways the systems within this habitat are related. You will learn about chemical reactions and the systems at play as you work with your “community” of classmates to develop a solution to restore this once healthy pond. As you investigate the problem, you’ll also uncover and discuss other real-world concerns involved in cleaning up a polluted habitat in a community. We need your help to solve this fishy mystery!

*Course adapted from an evidence-supported curriculum, Something Fishy, from the College of William and Mary.

Ecological Expedition: Exploring Ecology through Literature
Week 2: June 28 -July 2, 2021
Class Meeting Time: 9:00am-12:00pm CT | Office Hour: 12:30-1:30pm CT
Instructor: Beth Waight | View Instructor Bio

Should we kill spiders in our houses? Should animals be kept in zoos? Should a forest be cleared to make way for a much-needed grocery store? In this class, you will become a scientific researcher to investigate these questions and more as we learn about the complex study of ecology. Using the concept of interactions, we will explore interactions between plants, animals, and humans in the environment. If you are a scientist who also loves reading, then this class is for you! Through an interdisciplinary investigation of ecology, we will explore multiple examples from literature that address interactions between plants, animals, and humans as we also investigate the interaction of the story elements. Come ready to debate big questions in ecology through multiple perspectives. Along the way, we will learn that there is a lot to consider when answering questions about the relationships among living things and the environment. After this ecological expedition you will better understand living organisms and the world they inhabit, and you will be able to justify your ideas about how these interactions work by using evidence, just like a professional ecologist!

*Course adapted from an evidence-based science and ELA curriculum, Ecology in Literature, from Vanderbilt Programs for Talented Youth.

Rising 5th/6th Grade

Debate and Rhetoric: The Art of Argument
June 21-July 2, 2021 (M-F)
Class Meeting Time: 10:00am-1:00pm CT | Office Hour: 1:30-2:30pm CT
Instructor: David Lee | View Instructor Bio

Do you want to be a better public speaker? Are you curious how someone understands what is true and what is hyperbole? Do you want to explore techniques experts of rhetoric and debate use to effectively research and organize arguments when they have massive amounts of information to make sense of? In this class, you will learn how to conduct research, develop and organize arguments, adapt persuasive appeals to specific audiences, and, perhaps even change minds. Through the use of logical arguments and appropriate evidence, you will learn how to defend your viewpoints, persuade your friends, and influence people. Just like any skill, the art of persuasion takes practice. By exploring specific types of fallacies that can negatively impact your ability to persuade, we will become more aware of the principles great debaters and public speakers use to present their points. We will also analyze arguments in context as we learn basic rhetorical theories and apply them to speeches from history and current events. Become a more involved and informed citizen, a better public speaker, and a critical consumer of information as you learn the art of the persuasive argument.

Note: Multiple perspectives (both popular and unpopular) will be examined and discussed for the purpose of building critical thinking skills and understanding or critiquing multiple viewpoints and data (or lack thereof) as well as incorporating and responding to classmates’ views and ideas. The ideas, readings and discussions are not necessarily the expressed views of the instructor, PTY, or VU. While we encourage students to engage in the orderly and civil exchange of diverse ideas and opinions, we expect that they will do so in a respectful way so that all participants feel welcome and safe.

Rising 7th/8th Grade

Why are they doing that?! Using Science and Research to Understand Human Behavior
June 21-July 2, 2021 (M-F)
Class Meeting Time: 10:00-1:00pm CT | Office Hour: 1:30-2:30pm CT
Instructor: Emily Conder | View Instructor Bio

Want to know why people do what they do? Ever wonder if there was a way to figure it out? In this class you will learn how to do just that! Science class isn’t the only place for experiments. Just as you would measure a chemical reaction, human behavior can also be measured and tested. Taking on the role of a team of research scientists, you and your classmates will learn about and use different scientific methods to investigate why people act and think the way they do. We will also explore how psychologists measure things that they cannot see — how someone feels, or what they think. This class will feature several guest speakers who will offer their views in different fields of research related to human behavior — from brain scientists to statistics experts. And that’s not all! Once you are confident in your research skills, you will conduct your very own psychology research experiment and report your findings like real scientists!

Rising 9th/10th Grade

Research Methodologies in Clinical Psychology: Studying Cognitive and Biological Bases of Stress and Emotion Regulation
June 21-July 2, 2021 (M-F)
Class Meeting Time: 10:00-1:00pm CT | Office Hour: 1:30-2:30pm CT
Instructor: Allegra Anderson | View Instructor Bio

Did you know that the American Psychological Association describes stress as a national mental health crisis? In this class, taught by a clinical psychology doctoral student at Vanderbilt, you will critically engage a broad range of research methodologies commonly used within clinical psychology research to think critically about the effects of stress and how we might reduce it. We will begin the course with an overview of biological and cognitive processes underlying stress response, emotion regulation, and human behavior. This overview will serve as a framework for often complex discussions about hypothesis generation, as well as differential research methods to examine cognitive and neurobiological bases of stress and emotion regulation. From primary readings, group discussion and guest lectures, you will critically consider diverse methodologies in order to test the efficacy and feasibility of interventions aimed at reducing the effects of stress. In your final group project, you will present a poster evaluating a specific methodological approach.

Note: The focus of this class is on methodologies for investigating interventions aimed at reducing the effects of stress from a research perspective. The focus is not on exploring specific diagnoses in clinical psychology related to personal exploration/understanding nor is it a course on stress management.

Rising 11th/12th Grade

So You Want to Be a Doctor: Introduction to Medicine
June 21-July 2, 2021 (M-F)
Class Meeting Time: 10:00-1:00pm CT | Office Hour: 1:30-2:30pm CT

Is a physician on your short list of career options? What can you do now to set you on the path toward your dream job as a doctor? What skills, interests and content knowledge are important as you consider this amazing field of medicine? Throughout this fast-paced class, you will engage in conversation, simulation, and case studies as you get a glimpse of the day-to-day experiences of a medical student. Learn more about the complexity of the human body as an interrelated system as you dabble in chemistry, biology, physiology and the ethics of patient care while simultaneously gaining a better understanding of the interdisciplinary skills, knowledge base, dispositions, and training necessary to become a doctor.

This class is in partnership with the Vanderbilt School of Medicine and is taught by a team of medical students.

Treating the Whole Person: A Multidisciplinary Understanding of Healthcare and Social Context
June 21-July 2, 2021 (M-F)
Class Meeting Time: 10:00-1:00pm CT | Office Hour: 1:30-2:30pm CT
Instructors: Dr. Carrie Plummer, PhD, ANP-BC | View Instructor Bio &
Kanah Lewallen, DNP, AGPCNP-BC, GNP-BC | View Instructor Bio

How do factors like race, gender, sexual identity, religion, environment, and economic status impact one’s health? This course focuses on the need to combine an understanding of the social determinants of health with scientific knowledge in order to maximize quality of health for all people. Course instructors use simulated experiences and case studies to stimulate critical thinking and identify novel approaches to how healthcare should be provided while considering individual circumstances and identities. Be ready to discuss health issues from multiple and diverse perspectives. If you are analytical, enjoy challenging assumptions, and engaging in data driven discussions, or if you are considering a career in healthcare (e.g. nursing, medicine, pharmacy, public health, social work, physical/occupational/speech therapy, policy, or law) then this course will set you on a path of discovery in this amazing field.

Note: Multiple perspectives (both popular and unpopular) will be examined and discussed for the purpose of building critical thinking skills and understanding or critiquing multiple viewpoints and data as well as incorporating and responding to classmates’ views and ideas. The ideas, readings and discussions are not necessarily the expressed views of the instructor, PTY, or VU. While we encourage students to engage in the orderly and civil exchange of diverse ideas and opinions, we expect that they will do so in a respectful way so that all participants feel welcome and safe.

This class is in partnership with the Vanderbilt School of Nursing.

Session 3: July 12-23

Rising 3rd/4th Grade
Rising 5th/6th Grade
Rising 7th/8th Grade
Rising 9th/10th GradeRising 11th/12th Grade
Forensic Science (Week 1)
Secrets of the Moli Stone (Week 2)
Stories & Structure of Our UniverseReal World ChemistryUnderstanding Human BehaviorFiction and Poetry

Choose a grade level below to view the course descriptions and class meeting times. All class meeting times are in Central Time.

Rising 3rd/4th Grade

Forensic Science
Week 1: July 12-16, 2021
Class Meeting Time: 12:00-3:00pm CT | Office Hour: 3:30-4:30pm CT
Instructor: Karen Tyson | View Instructor Bio

We have a mystery on our hands, and we need your help to solve it! Someone has stolen a very important tool from our classroom but we don’t know who. Where do we start to solve this mystery? How would a detective in the field approach the case? What information can we gather from the scene and how do we analyze and extract meaning from it? Using the scientific method as our guide, we will develop hypotheses, conduct experiments, and analyze information to figure out the case of the missing microscope. Together we will take on the role of biologists, chemists, and researchers as we practice different techniques such as DNA extraction, chromatography, and fingerprint analysis to solve tricky cases. After collecting and studying evidence, we will make predictions about what we think happened and debate our ideas to come to a final conclusion. Will you crack the case?

Secrets of the Moli Stone
Week 2: July 19-23, 2021
Class Meeting Time: 9:00am-12:00pm CT | Office Hour: 12:30-1:30pm CT
Instructor: Beth Waight | View Instructor Bio

A stone tablet has just been unearthed. What an exciting discovery! The only problem is that the information on it is written in a secret code. The tablet is covered with unusual symbols and interesting mathematical markings. What do these symbols and markings mean? What information are they trying to tell us? How do we interpret meaning in symbols that aren’t words or in numbers that seem unfamiliar? In this class, you will take on the role of a mathematician to unravel the secrets of the Moli Stone. To solve the mystery, we will begin with an exploration of our number system as we explore the concepts of place value and base 10. Did you know that we use a base 10 system but you can do math in a different system too? We will compare and contrast our base 10 system with number systems different from our own, investigating how cultures and groups of people use particular number systems. No stone will be left unturned in this mysterious mathematical adventure that will reveal new number understanding!

*Course adapted from an evidence-supported math curriculum, Unraveling the Mystery of the Moli Stone, from Project M3.

Rising 5th/6th Grade

Stories and the Structure of Our Universe
July 12-23, 2021 (M-F)
Class Meeting Time: 10:00am-1:00pm CT | Office Hour: 1:30-2:30pm CT
Instructor: Carol Byrd | View Instructor Bio

What do the following have in common: gravity, a speech from President Barack Obama, space travel, a mobius strip, your favorite short story, and art? They all have a structure! In this class, you will discuss the massive scale of the solar system and Einstein’s theory of relativity as you examine how the universe is structured. We’ll also talk about the importance of structure in other places, such as creative writing, art, and public speaking, to uncover how authors, poets, and artists structure their work to convey important messages. Learn about gravity, mass, space time and orbit through models and simulations as we draw parallels between science and creative work. We will also read short stories and poems; analyze pieces of art; debate the benefits of space travel and missions to Mars, as we investigate the importance of structure in our universe. If you want to learn more about astronomy and you enjoy reading, you don’t want to miss out on this class.

*Course adapted from an evidence-supported curriculum, Story, Space, and Structure, from Vanderbilt Programs for Talented Youth.

Rising 7th/8th Grade

Real World Chemistry Applications: From Basketballs to Airbags
July 12-23, 2021 (M-F)
Class Meeting Time: 10:00-1:00pm CT | Office Hour: 1:30-2:30pm CT
Instructor: Allison Hardy | View Instructor Bio

Do you enjoy finding answers to questions about the world around you? Are you curious about how basketballs get their bounce? Have you wondered about what triggers a car airbag to inflate like an explosion? Learn how to use computer programs to design computational models that explore the real-world chemistry behind basketballs, airbags and more. Sharpen your scientific skills as you visualize chemical processes both microscopically and macroscopically. Engage in the scientific modeling process of argumentation which focuses on generation of initial understanding, asking questions, and revision of your thinking. Then investigate, model, and present how chemistry is evident in your world.

Rising 9th/10th Grade

Why are they doing that?! Using Science and Research to Understand Human Behavior
July 12-23, 2021 (M-F)
Class Meeting Time: 10:00-1:00pm CT | Office Hour: 1:30-2:30pm CT
Instructor: Emily Conder | View Instructor Bio

Want to know why people do what they do? Ever wonder if there was a way to figure it out? In this class you will learn how to do just that! Science class isn’t the only place for experiments. Just as you would measure a chemical reaction, human behavior can also be measured and tested. Taking on the role of a team of research scientists, you and your classmates will learn about and use different scientific methods to investigate why people act and think the way they do. We will also explore how psychologists measure things that they cannot see — how someone feels, or what they think. This class will feature several guest speakers who will offer their views in different fields of research related to human behavior — from brain scientists to statistics experts. And that’s not all! Once you are confident in your research skills, you will conduct your very own psychology research experiment and report your findings like real scientists!

Rising 11th/12th Grade

The Craft and Art of Creative Writing: Fiction & Poetry
July 12-23, 2021 (M-F)
Class Meeting Time: 10:00-1:00pm CT | Office Hour: 1:30-2:30pm CT
Instructor: Carlina Duan | View Instructor Bio

This course focuses on the evolving and immersive field of creative writing, in the genres of poetry and fiction. Together, we will explore and apply craft techniques and literary elements that make for engaging pieces of writing. We will do so by studying (and writing!) literary genres such as: documentary writing, flash fiction, poetry of witness, sonnets, ghazals, and more. Through close readings, discussion, and our own writing, students will emerge from this course with: (1) a rich “toolkit” of creative writing craft techniques, (2) an understanding and participation in the contemporary literary arts scene, and (3) their own revised and polished original work — to be published and presented in a culminating creative anthology. Throughout our time together, we will ask questions around the powers and challenges of creative writing in the U.S., such as: What does the “writer’s life” entail and look like? How do writers portray community ethically and responsibly? How might we understand language as social action? How does translation shape and form the ways we read and respond to literary texts? Furthermore, we will discuss strategies for publication – studying contemporary literary journals and presses, submission strategies, and other concrete resources for publication.

Note: This course is designed to provide interested emerging writers with a guidance and appreciation for creative writing as a discipline. It’s also designed to celebrate the joys of creative writing; writers can expect to be critically engaged in their work, as well as participating in the delightful process of making, reading, reflecting, and community-building. This is an introduction to creative writing; therefore, you do not need to have prior knowledge or experience with poetry or fiction – though you should, first and foremost, be interested in the field. Good writers are also good readers, who can express and evaluate a poem with a critical and creative eye. During this course, you will read and engage with writers in your class community, as well as with writers of the wider literary world.