SAVY Summer 2018 Courses
Rising 1st Grade
Dive into Design*
On a hot summer day there is no place better to be than a swimming pool! Have you ever wondered what thinking and planning was involved in creating your favorite swimming pool? Did you know that architects and engineers used principles of mathematics and measurement to ensure that your favorite swimming spot is a fun and safe place? In this course, you will learn about engineering design processes, including measurement and modeling for structures such as swimming pools. Why do we measure? What goes into taking accurate measurements? Why is accuracy so important? What should we consider when choosing a measurement tool? You will answer these questions and more as you create a model for a community pool! Get ready to dive into a problem-based task that requires critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, and lots of fun with measurement.
*Course adapted from an evidence-supported science curriculum, Splash!, from the College of William and Mary.
Have you ever wondered how animals can sense when danger is near? Are you curious about why groups of birds sometimes fly in formation? Do you ponder how some animals can survive in the blistering heat of the desert or in the coldest months of winter? If so, you are already thinking like a zoologist, a scientist who studies animals! In this course, we will investigate the ways that animals survive and thrive on our planet. Together we will learn about the characteristics that make animal species different and examine the unique habitats that different animals call home. We will also study characteristics of living things, learn about animal life cycles through observations of your very own pet mealworm, and determine what type of habitats are best for different creatures. You will then take on the role of scientist and animal advocate as we try to tackle serious questions related to environmental preservation and animal protection. If you love animals and enjoy science, then you will certainly thrive in this class!
*Course adapted from an evidence-supported science curriculum, Survive and Thrive, from the College of William and Mary.
We have a problem – A once beautiful plant that grew delicious berries is not looking very healthy now. The plant has even stopped producing fruit. Many of the typical reasons for a plant being unhealthy, like lack of water and sunlight, have already been explored. We need your help! Why has this happened and what can you do to make the plant healthy again? In this class you will take on the role of an agricultural engineer to determine what has happened to this once-beautiful plant. You will use the Engineering Design Process to develop a solution and make the plant full of life again. As you investigate and engineer solutions, you will learn about Integrated Pest Management, butterfly metamorphosis, hand pollination and much more! This course will forever change how you think about plants, insects, and what it means to be an engineer.
*Course adapted from an evidence-supported engineering curriculum from Engineering is Elementary (EiE) and the Museum of Science, Boston.
Introduction to Coding and Robotics
From apps to games to robots, computer programmers work behind the scenes to make popular technology come alive. Being able to code may be fun and sound cool to your friends, but how is coding used in everyday life? In what ways do computer programmers help make our lives easier? How do computer programmers turn lines of code into action? What are the thinking processes and personal characteristics needed to write successful code? Come learn the answers to these questions and more as you challenge your mind and test your creativity while learning the basics of computer programming! In this introductory coding course, you will take on the role of a programmer to solve coding challenges by developing working scripts based on your level of ability. By the end of the course you will have plenty of new ideas about how to use coding to solve small and big challenges in our world today, and you will have the knowledge of coding required to develop creative and useful solutions to all sorts of difficult problems.
Sphero robots and code.org will be utilized in this course.
Becoming a Botanist*
You’ve just discovered a professor’s old journal and his notes are very intriguing. They suggest that plants can be used as an alternative fuel source. Could he be right? If he is correct, what does this mean for you and for me? Get your lab coat ready as we investigate this curious case! In this course, you will take on the role of a botanist to investigate this professor’s ideas about the important role that plants currently play in our lives and how they may impact our future. Before we are able to determine if plants can be used as a fuel source, we will need to learn as much as we can about the life cycle and structure of plants by conducting experiments and field investigations. Come ready to unearth knowledge about plants. Your discoveries may impact how we all think about those weeds in your backyard!
*Course adapted from an evidence-supported science curriculum, Budding Botanists, from the College of William and Mary.
Playing with Words*
Are you a teller of stories and jokes? Do you coin new phrases? Are you a fan of riddles and rhymes? If so, then you, my friend, like to play with words! In this class, you’ll see how authors use words and phrases to capture their readers through laughter and complex thought. Learn to recognize special literary devices, such as similes, metaphors, symbols, and personification; all tools that writers use to better communicate their ideas. You too can experiment with figurative language and wordplay, the very same tools that writers have used for centuries! A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a thousand words can paint a pretty awesome picture.
*Course adapted from an evidence-supported science curriculum, Beyond Words, from the College of William and Mary.
Rising 2nd Grade
Secrets of the Moli Stone*
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? We will compare and contrast our base 10 system with systems different from our own and also investigate 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.
Electrifying Engineering: Electricity and Circuitry
Electricity is all around us. It powers the refrigerators that keep our drinks cold, it brings our favorite toys to life, and we couldn’t watch our favorite television shows without it. But what exactly is electricity and how does it work? How can we control the lights in our house with just the flip of a switch? What happens when we plug a microwave or alarm clock into a socket? Get ready for an electrifying adventure into the world of circuitry as we discover how electricity powers our world. We will start by investigating where electricity comes from and how engineers use technology to transform electricity into useful energy. We will then examine the different types of circuits that we interact with everyday and then try our hand at building and testing models of our own using hands-on circuitry kits. The light bulb will go off multiple times in this electricity exploration!
This course is sure to be full of new discoveries as you learn how to conduct experimental research by collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data using a variety of graphs, charts, and plots. Do you like to ask tricky questions and then seek out possible answers? Are you an aspiring researcher with a desire to understand why and how data and numbers can be used to answer your most intriguing questions? Have you ever wanted to develop your own survey for people to complete? You will experience firsthand the steps of the research process, including how to formulate great research questions, design investigations, create quality surveys, collect data through questionnaires, analyze results, and present findings to a real audience. Come along for a hands-on, practical mathematical journey where you will be encouraged to ask great questions and use data to uncover possible explanations. You will leave this course discovering opportunities for data collection everywhere!
*Course adapted from an evidence-supported math curriculum, Digging for Data: Collecting, Displaying, and Analyzing Data, from Project M3.
Cracking the Cases: Investigations in Forensic Science
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 that scientists use to solve tricky cases, such as DNA extraction, chromatography, and fingerprint analysis. After collecting and studying evidence, we will make predictions about what we think happened and debate our ideas to come to a final conclusion. Do you think you have what it takes to crack the case?
Environmental Explorers: Operation Save the Beach*
Congratulations, you have been appointed to the town council! As a member you make many important choices about your town, and you have just been asked to make a very big decision that could impact your city for years to come. You will have to decide if a children’s camp should be built on the beach in your city. At first you love the idea of the camp. However, there are also problems with the camp. People in your town are concerned that construction will cause the beach to erode. The camp director wants to begin construction right away. What will you decide to do? You owe it to your town to protect the beach from erosion, but you know the camp can also be great for your city. Is there a way to protect the beach and continue the construction on the camp? After learning about erosion and environmental protection, you will work to develop scientifically based regulations that will satisfy the long-term needs of the town and allow for continued construction for the new camp. Without an effective plan, the beach will disappear. Will your plans help save the beach?
*Course adapted from an evidence-supported science curriculum, Where’s the Beach?, from the College of William and Mary.
Ecological Expedition: Exploring Ecology through Literature
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.
Adventures in Algebra
Can you think of multiple ways to get to the right answer? When does one strategy work better than another? Can you justify why? What is an equation, and how are equations used to solve problems in math? Can you use mathematical tricks to solve the most challenging problems with numbers? In this class, we will answer these questions and more as we go on an unforgettable journey into the fun and complex world of algebraic thinking! We will explore how to use important strategies and games to discover mathematical patterns and formulas in careful and clever ways. We will tour the algebraic landscape as we learn how to analyze patterns, write formulas, and solve for missing variables. We will also learn how to develop clever tricks for conquering the challenging terrain of math computations as we use Hands-On Equations® to increase our understanding of algebra. Buckle up and get ready for an exciting an algebraic adventure!
Traveling Through Time: Ancient Civilizations of Mesoamerica
In this course, you will be transported back in time as we immerse ourselves in the archaic past of the ancient Mesoamerican civilizations that came before us. Focusing on the Maya and their lives in Central America, come ready to learn from a real-life archaeologist how scientists test hypotheses and develop conclusions about events and how people lived long ago. You will take an in-depth look at the art, writing systems, tools, and other relics these ancient groups left behind. As you take on the role of an aspiring archaeologist, historian, and researcher, you will learn about the tools and techniques that professionals use to excavate artifacts and draw meaningful conclusions about different groups of people. If you love puzzles and history, and don’t mind getting a little dirty, then this class is for you! Are you ready for an adventure through time as you explore ancient civilizations?
Most of us have a favorite character, whether from a good book, movie, or play. Sometimes they are people who remind us of ourselves, are people who inspire us, or just make us laugh. But how do artists bring these characters to life? What techniques do they use to make characters believable and interesting? What kind of inferences can we make about characters based on what they say, do, or how they interact with other characters? Join us for a week-long journey to uncover the secrets of character development in different forms of creative expression! In this class, we will investigate important concepts in character study including direct and indirect characterization and voice, using examples from some popular movies, books, and plays. We will also analyze different character archetypes, such as the damsel in distress, the hero, and the bully, and investigate how they can impact the plot, theme, or progression of a story. You will then have a chance to develop your own complex characters using your creative ideas the new knowledge you gain over the course of the week. Bring your imagination and get ready to become an expert in character creation!
Intro to Programming: Coding 101
Computer programmers are learners, dreamers, strategists, and creative thinkers as they develop complex codes to solve everyday problems. The skill of coding is becoming more and more important in our technology-driven world. Being able to code may be fun and sound cool to your friends, but how is coding used in real life? In what ways do computer programmers help make our lives easier? How do computer programmers turn lines of code into action? What are the thinking processes and personal characteristics needed to write successful code? Come learn the answers to these questions and more as you challenge your mind and test your creativity while learning the basics of computer programming! In this introductory coding course, you will take on the role of a programmer to solve coding challenges by developing working scripts based on your level of ability. By the end of the course you will have plenty of new ideas about how to use coding to solve small and big challenges in our world today, and you will have the knowledge of coding required to develop creative and useful solutions to all sorts of difficult problems.
Sphero robots and code.org will be utilized in this course.
The Mirror of Mythology
Καλώς ορίσατε στον Όλυμπος*! Here you will begin your journey into the fascinating world of mythology! Together we will travel back in time as we delve into the legends and beliefs of ancient Greece. We will read the original stories of heroes such as Hercules and Achilles, study fearsome mythological creatures such as the Minotaur and the Hydra, and discuss the significance of famous gods and goddesses. We will learn how mythological stories shaped the culture of the ancient world and examine how classic myths are reflected through some of our favorite modern-day books, movies, and buildings. After this course, you may never look at the Parthenon or the Tennessee Titans the same way again!
*Welcome to Mount Olympus!
Come join us on a journey to understand the human body’s most complex organ, the brain! In this course you will explore what scientists know about this organ and investigate how scientists unlock mysteries of how the brain works. Have you ever wondered how your foot communicates with your head? Did you know that light is involved in how we see color? Do you know why? In this class we will apply our own personal experiences as we explore brain related questions that puzzle us. You will also learn about the role neurons play in how the brain functions as you investigate how these cells talk to each other using electricity and chemistry. Through inquiry-based, hands-on activities in Vanderbilt science labs, you will use problem-solving skills and creativity to answer big brain questions as you hypothesize, observe, and investigate. Get ready to collaborate and learn about one of the fastest-growing scientific fields– neuroscience!
Rising 3rd and 4th Grades
Dabbling with DNA: Genetics Around Us
Have you ever wondered why you look or act a certain way? Have you considered questions like —Why do I have blue eyes and my mom and dad have brown eyes? Why am I left-handed? Why do all of my siblings have red hair? If you find yourself asking these types of questions, then you are already thinking about genetics. We will answer these questions and more in this science course that introduces you to the cells in your body and how a special molecule called DNA plays a role in making you unique! You will learn the basics of Mendelian genetics, explore the double helix, investigate natural selection, and examine how scientists use genetics in fields such as microbiology, engineering, and agriculture. Understanding genetics will allow you to better understand yourself and the world around you. By the end of the course you will be able talk about the “rules” of genetics like a real scientist as we investigate ways that DNA can be modified to create new organisms, medicines, and foods.
Mighty Metamorphosis: Transforming Thinking in Literature
From a caterpillar becoming a butterfly in its chrysalis to the tadpole becoming a frog in his pond, transformations are all around us! But transformations are not unique to the natural world. Transformations of characters, settings, and perspectives also appear within strong writing in order to guide a reader toward a story’s central meaning. Transforming Thinking is designed specifically for the student with a flair for the written word. How does the evolution of a character build the reader’s understanding of the story’s whole? How do words and images within a story alter our thinking? How can the actions of others change the world as we know it? Through the lens of transformation you will examine both narrative and persuasive elements essential to the analysis of stories, advertisements, modern art, historical events, and even within your own writing. Using powerful famous speeches, short stories, and personal narratives as your guide, you will uncover your own creative and persuasive voice, transforming yourself into the writer you have alway wanted to be!
Secret Worlds: Animal Communication
Caw-Caw! Ribbit Ribbit! Moooo! Have you ever listened to the birds and squirrels that flit and hop around your yard? Do you ever wonder what they’re saying when they make noises? Once we open our eyes and ears to the animals around us, we realize that the world is abuzz with movement and noise of different creatures. Each species of animal has a communication system which has evolved over millions of years to convey information about individual identity, group membership, motivation, and danger. In this class, you will follow in the footsteps of ethologists (scientists who study animal behavior) to learn about the surprising ways that animals communicate these different types of information in order to survive! We will discuss how their sounds travel in waves through the ground, air, and water and pass through senses such as vision, touch, and smell. We will also study how humans provide new challenges for animal communication through our own noises and pollution. You will then have a chance to take on the role of activist as you choose one negative impact that humans have on animals and develop a plan to fix it. The secret life of animals will be less of a secret as you learn tricks to interpreting and understanding their unique behaviors.
We all have idea seeds in our minds. These idea seeds might come from observations of the world around us, from memories, or from our imaginations. Did you know that if you tend idea seeds closely, you can grow them into stories? No one else has a story garden exactly like yours! In this class we will take on the role of author as we explore the steps of the writing process. We will practice growing ideas, developing plot and characters, and using writing tools such as alliteration, personification, simile, onomatopoeia, and rhyme to make our stories one of a kind. Together we will uncover the characteristics and challenges of different formats of books, from picture books to chapter books, as we work through hands-on activities and create our own stories. You will also learn about the process of publishing a book from a published author. Grab your best ideas and get ready to bring them to life!
The Makings of America: Rebellion, Revolt, and Resolution*
Certain events in history have created profound change, altering the course of human life forever. The American Revolution is the focus of this course on cause and effect, consequences, and implications. You will explore the people, places, and events of the American Revolution in order to understand how a government designed “by the people” and “for the people” rose out of the gunfire and turmoil in the 1700’s. Come ready to take on the role of historian as you analyze primary sources such as advertisements, speeches, letters and even period song lyrics to uncover truths from the time period of the revolution. Students will also consider and evaluate different historical perspectives as explored by biographical author Ron Chernow and Broadway star Lin Manuel Miranda (Hamilton, the Musical). Studying history is not just dates and facts, this class will be a hands-on, minds-on investigation of an important time where the world was turned upside down with rebellion and revolt and resolution influenced life as we know it!
*Course adapted from an evidence-supported social studies curriculum, The World Turned Upside Down: The American Revolution, from the College of William and Mary.
The history of the universe is written in the sky! But what kind of information can we gather from space? What types of celestial bodies can we observe in our own galaxy? How are the movements of the sun and moon related to life on earth? Get ready to go on a galactic adventure through the universe as we learn how to explore and observe the amazing sights in our solar system. Using the tools of astronomy, from telescopes to computer simulation programs to our own eyes, we will learn how scientists track astronomical objects, collect data, and answer research questions about the universe. We will discuss the characteristics and movement of the moon, sun, stars and constellations, and other observable objects in the sky. Through discovery, observation, and research, you will take on the role of a real-life astronomer as you learn from one. The cosmos is awe-inspiring, and after this class, you will inspire the awe of all with your stellar knowledge!
The Great Debate
What do you think of when you hear the word argument? In most cases, people think to argue is to fight. However, this is not necessarily true! Philosophy defines an argument as simple statements used to persuade someone of something using evidence and reason or to confirm a certain conclusion. In this class, you will learn the skills and methods that ancient philosophers used as you develop your techniques to convince others to accept your point of view. Through the use of logical arguments and appropriate evidence, you will learn how to defend your viewpoints and persuade your friends. Just like any skill, the art of arguing takes practice. By exploring specific types of fallacies that can negatively impact an argument, we will become more aware of the principles great debaters use to present their points. We will also analyze historical speeches and debates as we explore the power that good debate skills can have on others. If you are interested in honing your debating skills to discuss relevant topics that directly impact your life then look no further. Come take part in a great debate!
Math Mystery: Fractions at Work
It’s a rainy day and two siblings have just uncovered a mysterious trunk in their grandmother’s attic! The trunk is full of old artifacts from their great grandparents’ general store, The Rabbit Hutch General Store, which operated long ago. But what is hidden in the trunk? What do these artifacts tell us about what the store, and its owners, were like? Using fractions and the clues from the attic, we will piece together stories from the past as you learn new techniques to help you solve even the most challenging mathematics equations. You will practice using tricks such as common numerators, common denominators, and missing pieces of the whole to analyze items from the old store. Through modeling, drawing, and charting, you will learn new and exciting ways to approach mathematical operations involving fractions and wow your family and friends with your new skills! We will even talk about where fractions are hidden in our everyday lives. After this class you will never look at objects, or their pieces and parts, in the same way again. What kind of unexpected mathematical treasures will you uncover in this mysterious adventure with fractions?
*Course adapted from an evidence-supported math curriculum, Treasures from the Attic, from Project M3.
A truck carrying an unidentified liquid has crashed on a busy highway and has started to leak its liquid into a nearby creek. The city is counting on you to make sure there are no negative repercussions from this spill! In this class you will take on the role of an environmental scientist. How are you going to isolate the spill? What experiments will you need to conduct to determine if the liquid is dangerous? How will you keep people and animals in the surrounding environment safe? Through a series of role-play examples, scientific experimentation, and the study of complex systems, you will learn about acid and base chemistry as you solve key problems related to the spill. We will examine the damaging effects that such an event can have on the ecosystem, economy, and human transportation. Are you ready for the challenge of coming up with an appropriate solution? The city needs your help!
*Course adapted from an evidence-supported science curriculum, Acid, Acid Everywhere, from the College of William and Mary.
In the age of Siri, Instagram, and Twitter, do poetic uses of language still matter? What is it about poetic expression that makes the world an exciting, fresh place to live and explore? What can poetry do that novels or screenplays cannot? How do poets tell powerful stories using so few words? In this course, we will explore poetic storytelling through its many different forms. We will read poems by classical and contemporary authors, all the while remaining poetic witnesses to the world around us and looking to our surroundings for creative inspiration. From spoken word poetry to rhymed verse to free-form poems, we will study the different styles and techniques of poetry and apply them to our own written creations. Through daily reading and writing workshops, we will challenge each other to write emotional and moving verses that fly off the page! This course is for anyone who loves language, creativity, rhythm, and the performance possibilities of words. Come along, let’s play with poetry.
Unearthing Information: Archaeology and Ancient Civilizations
In this course, you will be transported back in time as we immerse ourselves in the archaic past of the ancient Mesoamerican civilizations of Central America. Focusing on the Maya people and society, come ready to learn from a real-life archaeologist how scientists test hypotheses and develop conclusions about people who lived long ago. You will take an in-depth look at the architecture, math, astronomical, and writing systems, tools, and other artifacts these ancient groups left behind. How are the lives of ancient peoples related to civilization today? What kind of lessons can we learn from their successes and failures? As you take on the role of an aspiring archaeologist and historian, you will learn about the field and research techniques that professionals use collect data and draw meaningful conclusions about different groups of people. If you love puzzles, history, and culture, then this class is for you!
Programming and Robotics
Robotic engineers are learners, dreamers, strategists, and creative thinkers. Robots are cool to play with, but how are robots used in the real world? Can robots really help make our lives easier? How do robots turn lines of computer coding into action? What are the thinking processes needed to successfully code a robot to complete a task? Come learn the answers to these questions and more as you challenge your mind and test your creativity by programming Sphero interactive robots! In this course, you will take on the role of a robotics engineer as you brainstorm hands-on solutions to real-world problems through computer programming. You will program how your robot moves, looks, and interacts with apps, including augmented reality games, as you try to solve robotic challenges. After taking this course you will have new ideas about how to use coding and robotics to solve big problems in our world today!
Sphero robots and code.org will be utilized in this course.
Rising 5th and 6th Grades
Written in Bones: Bioarchaeology
Bones tell stories about the people who came before us– how they lived, the foods they ate, and even what kind of illnesses they had. In some cultures bones also play a vital role in religion and society, offering a way to help people learn about the past. But how do we “read” bones? What techniques do scientists use to piece together the stories of our ancestors? How is bioarchaeology relevant to our lives today? Through case studies and hands-on activities, you will learn the practices unique to the field of bioarchaeology, where the subjects of archaeology, chemistry, cultural studies, and biology collide. We will start with an investigation of bioarchaeological chemistry to explore the cellular structure of bones and learn how scientists use this to answer questions about diet and migration. We will then gain insight into how bones can tell a story of the past as we practice analyzing bones using forensics tools. With a real bioarchaeologist as your guide, you will learn the field and laboratory techniques of bioarchaeological scientists and leave this class knowing how to uncover the past that is written in bones!
Biology and the Body*
Calling all future doctors, nurses, and biomedical researchers! Have you ever wondered how digestion can influence your mood or how blood circulation can impact your immune responses? Are you curious about how diseases are spread and how they affect our bodies? Have you ever pondered how the various systems in the human body interact to keep us healthy? If so, then you are ready to join the investigative team in this class as we tackle a medical mystery. Through the mindset of a physician, you will explore the complex systems of the body and their connections to one another as we uncover the biology behind the disease tuberculosis. Together we will discover how our cells, tissues, and organs break down during illness and what can be done to bring them back into a healthy balance. We will also examine how disease can impact health care and society at large. Get ready for a hands-on course where you will grapple with big problems of the body that do not have quick fixes– problems that real scientists and doctors ponder everyday!
*Course adapted from an evidence-supported science curriculum, No Quick Fix, from the College of William and Mary.
Puzzles and Problem Solving
How does a group of logical pirates agree to distribute their loot? If a car changes its speed according to its distance from its final destination, how long does it take the car to reach its goal? How many ways can people sit in a full airplane when the first passenger to board ignores his or her assigned seat and takes another seat at random? You can answer these questions and many more in this course as you learn the principles of probability, logic, and game theory. In this hands-on math class, you will explore problem-solving methods by wrapping your mind around counterintuitive solutions and teasing your brain with apparent contradictions. As the class develops, you may even begin to pose your own questions for the class to solve. Get ready to get stumped and stump others in a class that is sure to make you think critically and strategize with precision.
The Story’s Silhouette: Archetypes in Literature*
Have you ever heard the saying “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?” In literature this saying rings true with archetypes, characters or storylines that have been used as models for authors and screenwriters for centuries. From damsels in distress and evil geniuses, to the hero’s journey and the struggle between good and evil, archetypes can be found in all different types of literature and media. Through the concept of encounter, you will examine the patterns, symbols, and motifs associated with common archetypes as you analyze primary source documents, literature, art, and popular media. Together we will follow various archetype encounters with conflicts and challenges to explore questions such as “How do archetypes reflect the human experience?” and “How do archetypes reveal human strengths and weaknesses?” After this class, you will find the silhouette behind the story, as the story itself sheds a whole new light.
*Course adapted from an evidence-based ELA curriculum, Encounters with Archetypes and their Real-Life Counterparts, from Vanderbilt Programs for Talented Youth.
Math and Music
Do you consider yourself a fan of rock’n’roll? Does pop music dominate your playlists? Maybe you prefer instrumental or classical tunes? From tempo to rhythm to musical notes themselves, did you know math is hidden everywhere in music? The two subjects are closely intertwined and in this class you will uncover how mathematical concepts are concealed in your favorite songs and genres. We will examine topics such as set theory, musical scales, frequency, matrices, serialism, compositional techniques, and the Fibonacci sequence to help you reach an understanding about the intersection of math and music. We will dissect famous songs from a variety of well-known artists to examine patterns within and across genre, so a musical background is helpful but not required. After this class, you may have a new mathematical appreciation for music of all kinds!
It’s been said that an image is worth a thousand words but can pictures really give us as much information as a written story? How do artists, dancers, and advertisers successfully tell tales without words? What kind of information can we piece together from pictures alone? Can graphic novels give us as much information as written ones? In this course you’ll learn about the importance of the graphic imagery we encounter daily in its many different forms, including movies, product advertisements, comic books, and even social media posts. We will examine how this type of media is used in entertainment, marketing, and creative expression and may influence our thoughts and ideas. You will then have a chance to apply your new knowledge and techniques of digital storytelling as you piece together your own graphic short story! If you think you are the next great graphic novelist or just want to improve your storytelling skills, then this is the class for you.
Intro to Business: A Walk Down Wall Street
You have probably heard someone mention Wall Street on the news. Perhaps your parents have talked to you about it or you have walked down Wall Street on a trip to New York City. But, do you know what really happens there? In this course, you will learn the type of thinking and work that happens in the business world on Wall Street, as you take on the role of a financial advisor. A financial advisor helps people and companies decide what to do with their money, but before you can serve as a financial advisor you will need to learn about economics (the study of money), investments, the stock market, and how these things relate to each other. After an exploration of important money-related concepts, you and your business colleagues (aka your classmates) will use your new understanding of economics and the stock market to propose an investment plan for your very own company. Will the president of the company (aka your instructor) think your plan is a good one? Get ready to justify your decisions as you show off your business skills and prove that you might be the next business star on Wall Street!
The Mysterious World in Writing
Grab your magnifying glasses and throw on your detective caps! Have you ever wondered how great mystery writers keep readers on the edge of their seats? Or why they choose to use certain clues to lead characters towards solving the mystery? In this course, we will explore the role of mystery in the world of creative writing. We will read and discuss mysteries by classic authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, Carolyn Keene, and Franklin Dixon and then take a turn at writing short mystery stories to stump and surprise our friends and families. We will discuss writing techniques such as plot development, logic, evidence, and leading questions, and apply these ideas into our own compositions. We will also investigate riddles and contemporary mysteries in order to give us a better sense of how authors bring an intriguing world of the mysterious to life on paper. This class will give you the necessary skills to become a top-notch detective writer. From the foggy streets of London to the deserts of the United Arab Emirates to the backwoods of Tennessee, the scene is set for the next great mystery! Are you ready to start writing?
What kind of information can we gather from space? What types of celestial bodies can we observe in our own galaxy? Why is it important for us to be able to identify what we see in the sky? Get ready to go on a galactic adventure through the universe as we study the life cycle of stars and the remnants they leave behind over the course of their lifetime. Using the tools of astronomy, we will learn about stellar spectra and experience how scientists classify stars, collect astronomical data, and answer research questions about the universe. We will analyze the characteristics and movement of stars, remnants, and clusters utilizing publicly available data and models developed by scientists. Through discovery, observation, and research, you will take on the role of a real-life astronomer as you learn from one. The cosmos is awe-inspiring, and after this class, you will inspire the awe of all with your stellar knowledge!
Marvelous Mechanisms: Intro to Mechanical Engineering
Have you ever wanted to design a winning robot for a school competition, or perhaps help develop the moving parts of a satellite in orbit? Do you have creative ideas for inventions that might help make life easier? In order to be an inventor, you need to be able to conceive, analyze, and communicate your cleverly designed mechanisms. Our world is full of useful artifacts with moving parts. Mechanical engineers investigate how moving parts work together in machines and tools that help make our lives easier. In this course you will learn how to use a branch of physics called kinematics, the study of motion, to analyze different systems of movement, including pulley systems, four-bar mechanisms, and gear trains, that help us to push, lift, carry, rotate, and grasp. You will use drafting tools to sketch and design mechanisms that perform useful tasks and that satisfy realistic constraints and you will utilize mathematical concepts to support your ideas. After this course, you may never look at a can opener, airplane landing gear, or a Keurig coffee maker the same way again as you marvel at how they function!
Theory, Criticism, and The Force: An Academic Study of Star Wars
Artists often use their work to represent viewpoints about the everyday world around us, embedding their cultural, social, and political ideas into their stories, films, paintings, or songs. How do we decipher the themes hidden in their work? Why do we even want to identify these themes? How can uncovering the creator’s viewpoint help us understand both the work itself and the world around us better? In this class, we will use the 1977 film Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope as a base to learn how to unpack a work through multiple lenses of critical theory and thought. Formalism, structuralism, political criticism, and mythology are some of lenses we will learn to look through as we explore one of the most popular series of our time. Through our analysis of the Star Wars movie that started it all, we will learn how to apply critical theory to other portions of the Star Wars saga and other famous series and films. Because critical thought can and should be used when interpreting all artistic works, we will also practice our newly developed skills on our favorite short stories, classical artwork, and contemporary music. A new powerful force will be with you after this course – the ability to see your favorite works in different ways!
Land, Air, and Sea: Field Ecology and the Natural World
The world is teeming with life, both visible and invisible to the naked eye, and these living organisms all work together to create the ecosystem we call home. But how exactly are different organisms related? What kinds of ecological interactions can be observed in our own backyard? Can something we can’t see with the naked eye truly impact something as large as an entire species? Join us for this week long field excursion into the many facets of ecology to answer these questions and more! Each day we will focus on a different area within the discipline and learn what it takes to become a scientist in the field. Learn from real researchers in the areas of ornithology, marine biology, entomology, botany, and microbiology as we uncover the evolution of different organisms, practice field observations and research methods, brainstorm solutions to pervasive ecological problems, and debate our perspectives on the natural world. Over the course of the week, you will not only learn how to identify and classify creatures in your environment but also take an in-depth look at how they interact to create diverse ecosystems. We will also discuss how humans are impacting the ecosystems and what we can do to help. There is a diverse world of organisms that surrounds you every day just waiting to be discovered. Get ready to get your hands dirty and see the world from a whole new perspective through the eyes of an ecologist!
Career Connections at SAVY – Rising 7th Grade
Think Like a Lawyer
How many laws have affected you today? From traffic rules to policies governing public education to guidelines regulating the quality of the food you eat, laws are everywhere! In this course, you will study and debate the relationships between the rights and power of individuals and the government. You will learn how laws are designed to consider different stakeholders and groups and the importance of thinking about multiple perspectives when making and interpreting laws. You will step into the shoes of lawyers and judges as you examine different legal disciplines like Criminal Law, Constitutional Law, Property, and Torts. How do we make sure laws are interpreted correctly? Can the same law be applied to seemingly different situations? Why is a jury needed for some legal cases and not others? Using the Socratic Method and examples from legal history, you will address issues as complex as Supreme Court cases and as simple as student dress code infractions. Moot court activities will allow us the opportunity to debate important legal issues like a real attorney while learning how legal advocates craft arguments. This course will give you the tools to identify legal issues, propose solutions within the law, and think like a true lawyer. No one can object to the value of this knowledge!
This class is specially designed for those interested in exploring careers in law or politics.
Do you have a knack for creating? Are you a fan of tools and machines that make life easier? Do you often ponder how different apparatuses work? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then come experience world of engineering first-hand as you are tasked with designing, building, and testing a machine of your own. You will learn about techniques that engineers use to create new mechanisms, including Computer Aided Design (or CAD), 3-D printing, laser cutting, and other prototyping methods. You will even have a chance to try some of these yourself as you work through the engineering design process to create your invention. We will also take an in-depth look at how computers and machines are utilized by engineers to create new systems, modify existing tools, and increase the efficiency of different processes in factories, laboratories, and beyond. Engineering techniques are not only applicable in industry settings, but also in research. During the course you will have the chance to visit an engineering lab at Vanderbilt to see these techniques and technologies in action. Come ready to design and tinker.
This class is specially designed for those interested in exploring careers in engineering or research.
Behavioral Economics and Game Theory
You just opened a birthday card and now have some extra cash, congratulations! What will you do with this unexpected cash? Are you itching to buy that cool new gadget or pair of sneakers you saw on TV? Will you stash it in your piggy bank to save up for something bigger? There are so many options when you have money to spend, how will you ever decide? In this class, we will explore the basic concepts of game theory and behavioral economics to uncover why people spend their money the way they do. Are there patterns in the decisions people make with their money? What factors can influence how they spend money? Can businesses successfully predict what people will buy? Through case-studies, research, and discussion, we will learn about the impulsiveness of humans and how emotions play a powerful role in decision-making. In this class, you will analyze, hypothesize, and strategize as the class takes on the role of economists to tackle real issues in the business world and practice making predictions about the consumer market.
This class is specially designed for those interested in a future career in financial planning, banking, investing, or marketing.
The Power of Persuasion
Are you passionate about your ideas? Do you consider yourself a savvy negotiator? How do you persuade someone to have the same belief as you? How can you disagree with someone’s argument respectively and with evidence? In this class, you will learn persuasion skills and methods dating back to the times of ancient philosophers as you develop new techniques to convince others to accept your point of view. Through the use of logical arguments and appropriate evidence, you will learn how to defend your viewpoints and persuade your friends, family, and peers. Just like any skill, the building of an effective argument takes practice. By exploring specific types of fallacies that can negatively impact an argument, we will become more aware of the principles great debaters and negotiators use to present their points and advocate for things they stand firmly behind. Each day we will put ourselves to the test as we work to translate our ever-growing knowledge of the art of argument into practice in mock legal, political, and meeting situations..We will also analyze historical speeches and debates as we explore the power that good public speaking and debate skills can have in a wide range of settings. From the boardroom to the podium, persuasion is an invaluable skill for a variety of careers. If you are interested in debating timely and relevant topics that directly impact your life, then you need to know the secrets to powerful persuasion.
This class is relevant to careers in almost any area, but is specially designed for those interested in politics, business, or advocacy and outreach.
Science of Emotion
Like the animated characters in the movie Inside Out, emotions can be personified as an attempt to understand the mysterious and dynamic expressions lurking within us all. But what is emotion and how does it work? In what ways can it impact our interactions with our friends and family? Do our emotions have the power to influence how we perceive ourselves in the world? In this course, students will explore the current evidence-based theories of emotion from the diverse fields of psychology, neuroscience, anthropology, and biology. We will investigate how the scientific method is applied in the field to address complex questions of human cognition and behavior, and learn their complex relationship to emotion. Students will gain experience integrating knowledge across disciplines and developing testable hypotheses in the field of psychological science. As aspiring researchers and psychologists, we will discuss the historical perspectives, different theoretical approaches, and the biology and evolution of emotions. We will also examine how emotions form and change over the lifespan and how we regulate emotions in everyday life. Using real techniques from psychophysiological research, we will practice measuring emotion and even visit the Vanderbilt Brain Institute to learn about brain imaging techniques. Come learn how emotion is actually related to brain science.
This class is specially designed for those interested in a future career in psychology, counseling, medicine, or research.
Kinematics for Mechanical Design
What do an industrial robot and a living room recliner have in common? How about the landing gear on an airplane and a saxophone? A car’s sunroof and an electric toothbrush? They all use mechanisms to transform one form of motion into another! Whether it’s electric motors turning gears or someone pulling a lever or pushing a key, the result is objects in motion. In this course, we will explore a variety of mechanisms that you encounter everyday, including can openers, bicycles, Keurig coffee makers, and more. As an aspiring mechanical engineer studying kinematics (the study of motion), you will investigate pulley systems, four-bar mechanisms, and gear trains that help us to push, lift, carry, rotate, and grasp. You will also learn about tools like Laser cutters, 3D printers, and other rapid prototyping techniques that modern inventors are using to bring life to their ideas faster than ever. But before you can build a prototype, you have to define and test your concept using your new understanding of physics and motion. From a simple sketch to a precise drawing using drafting tools, you will put pencil to paper to draw and analyze existing mechanisms as well as create your own designs that produce useful motion. What mechanism will you design? Who knows, you might even create the world’s next incredible invention!
This class is specially designed for those interested in a future career in mechanical engineering, architecture, invention, or design.