SAVY Summer 2019 Courses
Rising 1st and 2nd Grades
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?
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 curriculum, Beyond Words, 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 curriculum, Survive and Thrive, from the College of William and Mary.
We just received a message from an environmentalist on Queen Anne’s Island. The inhabitants are in trouble – their island is slowly eroding away! Can you help them? Bring your best investigation skills and get ready to take on the role of environmental scientist as you help solve this scientific mystery. What do you need to know in order to tackle this challenge? Together with your instructor and classmates, you will learn about topics such as resource preservation, pollution, erosion, and conservation through hands-on experimentation. Then decide how you will help save the island based on the experiments you have tried. Hurry, time is running out! We need your help to dig into the problems surrounding this island and unearth a good solution to stop it!
*Course adapted from an evidence-supported curriculum, Dig It, from the College of William and Mary.
Beyond the Pyramids*
When we think of Ancient Egypt we often think about pyramids, mummies, and hieroglyphics, but Ancient Egypt has even more to offer. Did you know that the Ancient Egyptian civilization lasted over 3,000 years? In this course you will take on the role of an anthropologist to investigate how the Egyptians’ systems of language, leadership, economics, architecture, and geography created a strong civilization that lasted for thousands of years. What did we learn from the Egyptians and how has it impacted our current way of life? Are there other ideas that we can borrow from the Egyptians to better our society? We will investigate these questions and more as we critically analyze the systems within this society. Don’t worry — we will talk about mummies and pyramids too and the role they played in Egyptian’s lives. Plus, you’ll even get to try your hand at writing Egyptian hieroglyphics!
*Course adapted from an evidence-supported curriculum, Ancient Egypt: Gift of the Nile, from the College of William and Mary.
Do you like to ask tricky questions and then seek out possible answers? Are you an aspiring scientist or mathematician with a desire to learn more? Do you ever wonder how data and numbers can be used to answer your most intriguing questions? Have you ever wanted to develop your own experiment? This course is sure to be full of new discoveries as you learn how to conduct experiments by collecting, analyzing, and interpreting numerical data using a variety of graphs, charts, and plots. You will experience firsthand the steps of the research process, including how to formulate great research questions, design investigations, create 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 curriculum, Digging for Data: Collecting, Displaying, and analyzing Data, from Project M3.
Intro to Coding and Robotics
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.
Creative Contraptions: A Study of Inventions*
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? 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.
Do you have a knack for telling tales? Have you ever wondered why some stories make us cry while others make us laugh? Do you enjoy reading stories and poems? If so, join us for an adventure into the wild world of words! With your instructor as your guide, you will learn to recognize special literary devices such as similes, metaphors, and puns; all tools that writers use to better communicate their creative ideas and bring excitement to their tales. We will examine some of our favorite books and try to spot the play on words hidden within them. We will then practice using literary tricks to write our own stories and poems to wow our peers. Amaze acquaintances as you apply alliteration, make your friends gasp when you use onomatopoeias, and let your pencil do the talking with personification. You, too, can experiment with figurative language and wordplay using the very same tools that writers have used for centuries!
*Course adapted from an evidence-supported curriculum, A World of Wild, Wacky, Wonderful Words, from the College of William and Mary.
Wind and Wings
How are birds and insects able to soar through the air so easily? How can a creature’s wing shape and body shape make it better for flying? What adaptations do these living things have for the type of flying that they do? Throughout history, scientists and engineers have learned about flight by observing birds and insects and identifying the characteristics that help them soar through the air. In this course we will combine science and math as we explore the physics of flight with hands on experiments and simulations to help understand how birds and other animals travel within their habitats. We will use our creative problem solving skills to apply our knowledge of physics principles to build models of different wings, the same way that scientists study and learn. We will also compare and contrast different types of wings to learn how each animal is suited to its own environment. Come along as we explore the soaring scientific world of animal flight!
When you flip a coin, does it matter if you started with heads or tails? How important is it to stick to the rules? What is the difference between skill and luck when it comes to playing games? In this exciting course, you will use advanced mathematics to explore the laws of probability and learn how to determine if a game is fair. As you play a variety of games, you will calculate the chances that each player can win, and you will use creative problem solving to change the rules that are unfair. With a combination of math skills and logic, we will analyze all types of games and create our own fair and unfair games to test n our probability lab! Who knows, you might design and be able to justify the rules of the perfect new game for all your friends!
Strange things are happening: a mysterious, unidentified substance has been found, the principal’s water is disappearing, and even more mysteries abound. Never fear, you are on the case! In this course, you will become a detective and use scientific skills to solve mysteries. After learning about the investigative processes of a scientist, you will gather your own information about solids, liquids, and gases by making scientific predictions, designing and conducting experiments, carefully recording your observations, and collecting data. You will then use the information and discoveries you uncover to solve some very puzzling mysteries about matter.
*Course adapted from an evidence-supported curriculum, What’s the Matter?, from the College of William and Mary.
Rising 3rd and 4th Grades
Tremendous Transformations in Writing*
Have you ever wondered what happened to Humpty Dumpty after his fall? What if the Diary of a Wimpy Kid was told from a different character’s perspective? Authors have the unique opportunity to shape stories and messages using a variety of writing elements. Designed specifically for the student with a flair for the written word, this class will explore the way that authors use transformations to guide a reader toward a story’s central meaning. 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 transformations you will examine both narrative and persuasive elements essential to the development of stories and arguments. 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 always wanted to be!
*Course adapted from an evidence-supported curriculum, Transformations in Stories and Arguments, by Vanderbilt Programs for Talented Youth.
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 curriculum, Acid, Acid Everywhere, from the College of William and Mary.
Uncovering Secrets of the Past: Archaeology 101*
If you love puzzles and history, and don’t mind getting a little dirty, then this class is for you! A construction company in your town is tearing down an old school building when they come across some artifacts buried in the ground. As a budding archaeologist working at a museum, you’ve been hired to explore the grounds and investigate the treasures they’ve unearthed. But what are these artifacts? Where did they come from and what can they tell us about the past? As you try to answer these challenging questions, you will learn about the tools and technology of archaeologists, excavate your own mock archaeological site, analyze artifacts, and draw conclusions about the relics you find. Come along as we dig for answers and unearth clues to the past– who knows what knowledge you might uncover!
*Course adapted from an evidence-supported curriculum,What a Find!, from the College of William and Mary.
Why do apple slices turn brown when we leave them on our plate too long? What compounds make our food taste sour or salty? In this course, we will learn how science contributes to something we do everyday, eat! We will investigate the chemical structures of food components such as carbohydrates, lipids, and vitamins, and learn how these structures make foods look and taste different. We will then analyze the content of these components in a variety of foods, and uncover why some snacks are better for our body than others. Using scientific modeling kits, we will examine how important chemical structures in food change under certain conditions, as well as the role enzymes and microorganisms play in some everyday food processes. Come learn how science and food intertwine with the world of culinary chemistry.
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.
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? If you love reading and science, this is the perfect class for you. Through an interdisciplinary investigation of ecology, we will examine interactions among plants, animals, and humans as well as interactions among different story elements and how these elements work together to help us understand the them. Come ready to debate big questions in ecology and read stories and poems about animals, the environment, food webs, and food chains. After this ecological expedition you will be thinking like an ecologist, ready to explain interactions among living organisms and the world they inhabit while also gaining new skills in reading and debate.
*Course is adapted from an evidence-supported curriculum,Interactions in, Ecology in Literature, from Vanderbilt Programs for Talented Youth.
Stories Galore! The Many Genres of Fiction
Flying horses, laser-shooting robots, clever detectives and mysterious ghosts! All these characters have one thing in common: They can help make a great story. However, based on the type of story, some characters may be included while others are saved for a different tale. If you like to write about spaceships, you’re probably writing science fiction, but if you write about dragons, then you’re writing fantasy. These different types of stories are called genres and in this class, you will take a tour of the many genres of fiction to uncover the themes, ideas, and elements that make up each one. We’ll examine the characteristics of the genre, get to know some authors, and, most importantly, practice writing in these different genres for ourselves. We’ll jumpstart our imaginations with some hands-on brainstorming and hone our writing skills by practicing with some of the biggest tools of fiction: plot, character, setting, point of view, and imagery. By the end of the week, you’ll have authored your very own multi-genre collection of stories. Get ready to create all kinds of fiction, from mysteries to comedies—and discover some new favorites in the process!
Studying the Mind: Psychology and Experimental Design
How can we tell what people are thinking? What happens in the brain when people think? How do psychologists study the human mind even though we can’t see it with our eyes? In this class we will learn first-hand how psychologists study what the human eyes cannot see – our thoughts! Through discuss, hands-on experiments, and maybe even a visit to a Vanderbilt lab, you will learn the methods psychologists use to figure out how people think and how the brain and mind works. We will investigate famous experiments in psychology and brainstorm new ideas for future studies. Be ready to use your new knowledge to create, test and report findings to your very own question about the mysterious and fascinating human mind. Come along for an investigation of psychology and experiments that will really make you think!
The One to Beat: Using Algebra to Make and Break Records*
Do you know who holds the record for the longest distance paddled in a bathtub? Or how many jumps the record-holding dog can perform when jumping rope? What about the size of the largest collection of pennies? If you like algebra, interesting facts, and math puzzles, then this is the class for you! Come along as we examine some wacky world records and learn how to interpret algebraic equations, identify variables, create charts, and make predictions using different kinds of graphs to record our own record breaking attempts. We will conduct experiments to practice recording, and interpreting our own data methods and results. We will put our algebra skills to the test as we try to calculate how to break world records. Who knows– we may leave this class with ideas about how to get our name in the Guinness Book of World Records while also learning more about math!
*Course adapted from an evidence-supported curriculum,Record Makers and Breakers, from Project M3.
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 curriculum, Treasures from the Attic, from Project M3.
Journey Through Time: An Investigation of Colonial America*
What really happened in the early colonies of America? What different groups lived during this time and how did they work together? How was life in one colony different or similar to life in another? Bring your best investigation skills as we take a trip back in time to the exciting world of Colonial America and discover how settlers, English colonists, and Native Americans lived and interacted with each other. With primary sources as our guide, we will uncover facts about the lives and experiences of the people who lived in the colonies. You will read, examine, and discuss historical documents to learn about the economic, social, and political systems at play during this time of growth in America. This is one voyage through history and literature you won’t want to miss!
*Course adapted from an evidence-supported curriculum, Building A New System: Colonial America 1607-1763, from the College of William and Mary.
Circuitry, System, and Design: Electrical Engineering*
Imagine that you are a newly hired engineer for the local power company. The city wants to build a special recreational complex and they need your help. There is a lot to learn about how to design and wire the complex so that it passes inspection and can withstand the stresses of weather and people. In this course we will take on the role of an electrical engineer and learn about currents, circuits, systems, and electricity. Come ready to design your own electrical system for the new building, but watch out – you never know when a storm may hit. Can your design withstand it? We won’t be left in the dark as you explore the exciting field of electrical engineering.
*Course adapted from an evidence-supported curriculum, Electricity City, from the College of William and Mary.
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, revolt and revolution that influenced life as we know it!
*Course adapted from an evidence-supported curriculum, The World Turned Upside Down: The American Revolution, from the College of William and Mary.
Dabbling with DNA
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.
Solving for the Unknown: Mathematical Problems, Patterns, and Variables*
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!
*Course adapted from an evidence-supported curriculum, At the Mall with Algebra, from project M3.
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!
Biology of the Brain
Your brain is the most powerful organ in your body. It helps control your breathing, your feelings, and even your body temperature. Have you ever wondered how this giant bundle of nerves works? How are we able to remember some things but not remember others? What microscopic events happen in your brain when you see something familiar or hear your favorite song? In this course we will take an in-depth look at the biology of your brain and discuss how your brain influences other systems in your body. We will learn about the important neurotransmitters in your brain and how they contribute to your emotions, learning, and overall health. We will also investigate the role that genetics and biochemical compounds play in your well-being and how neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, begin and develop in the brain. If you’ve ever wondered about how and why you are able to “wonder” at all, then you are ready to join us as we explore the biology of the brain!
Artistic Programming: Using Patterns in Programming for Art
Have you ever looked at a honeycomb and noticed the way in which bees construct it using perfect hexagons? Or maybe you’ve stared in curiosity at a large flock of sparrows as they change direction mid-flight, synchronizing their movements with one another. Patterns found in nature, as well as those found in art, have stood the test of time and have inspired human invention and systems of thought. Coordinated placement, coloring, and movement of distributed ‘agents,’ patterns offer striking and mesmerizing effects, as well as much needed structure. In this class you will explore patterns and structure, constructing dynamic computational artwork using NetLogo, the leading agent-based computer modeling (ABM) platform. You will use NetLogo to develop visual representations that allow for prediction and pattern recognition, and see how this process serves as a playful entry point to a powerful programming language that is commonly used by ecologists, computer programmers, and creative problem solvers.
Rising 5th and 6th Grades
Theory, Criticism, and the Force
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 for learning 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!
Powering our Planet: Nuclear Science and Energy*
Did you know that approximately 20% of the United State’s electricity is generated by nuclear power plants? But, is a nuclear power an efficient, reliable, and clean method for generating energy or a threat to the environment and humans? In this class you will learn how nuclear power plants create energy but also generate and remove radioactive waste. Then, you will take on the role of a community leader and help the mayor decide whether or not a nuclear power plant in your area is the best way to expand the methods they use for getting rid of radioactive waste. How will you vote? Is nuclear energy “friend or foe”?
*Course adapted from an evidence-supported curriculum, Nuclear Energy: Friend or Foe?, from the College of William and Mary.
Puzzles and Problem Solving
How would 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.
Stories and the Structure of Our Universe*
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.
Psychology in Action: Decoding Symbols and Their Meanings
Whether you are reading your favorite book, watching television, or working on a math problem, did you know you are interacting with symbols? Symbols can take many forms, from caveman drawings, scale models, numbers, and even apps and video. But what exactly are symbols? What kind of information do symbols tell us? How do we learn to interpret and make sense of symbols? By taking on the role of a developmental psychologist, you will investigate how the human mind processes and makes sense of the symbols we interact with every day. Through hands-on experiments, scientific investigation, and a visit to Vanderbilt labs to see research in action, you will uncover how symbols are helpful in our lives and learn how psychologists use numbers and theories to draw conclusions and answer important questions. You will then have a chance to test your own hypothesis as you design a study, collect and analyze data, and present your findings. Experience psychology in action as you use your new knowledge to discover new ideas!
Powerful Programming: Using Agent-Based Programming to Problem Solve
What do traffic gridlock, predation between populations of wolves and sheep, the spread of wildfires, and models of civil disobedience have in common? Answer: Patterns! The patterns that exist within each of these problems can all be visually represented using powerful software in order to help experts build understanding and create possible solutions. In this class, you will construct dynamic computational artwork using NetLogo, the leading agent-based modeling (ABM) platform as you learn about coordinated placement, coloring, and movement of distributed ‘agents’ or features. Developing visual representations in NetLogo is a playful entry point to a powerful programming language that is commonly used in network theory, materials science, and environmental engineering. Join us as we harness the power of agent-based programing to understand and solve real world problems.
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 encounters, 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-supported curriculum, Encounters with Archetypes, from Vanderbilt Programs for Talented Youth.
World Beyond the Page: Unpacking the Magic of Harry Potter
Would you consider yourself a huge fan of Harry Potter? Are you still waiting for your Hogwarts letter to come? Well here’s your invitation to join us for a week-long investigation into the complex and magical universe of the wizarding world of Harry Potter! Harry Potter is more than just a series of good stories; it’s a literary phenomenon with underlying themes that reflect our modern-day muggle lives. With a critical eye, we will uncover these themes, such as social justice, the struggle for power and triumph, feminism, and other critical ideas, as we draw connections between fantasy and reality. We will not only examine the Harry Potter novels, but also the movies and other related media that were inspired by the story. This course will give you a glimpse into the world of J.K. Rowling and other creative writers as we unpack the inspiration, writing process, and other story features that have made this series a sensation.
Students should have read at least one Harry Potter novel before the start of the session!
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!
Our planet is constantly changing and coastal cities and ecosystems are increasingly at risk. If something happens to these coastal environments, animals, plants, and even people will be impacted. How do coastal systems, such as beaches, barrier islands, and deltas, respond to dramatic changes, such as rising sea level and storms? How can humans help fortify and protect the coastline for the future? In this course, you will explore the interactions between climate change, geological processes, and the role that humans have played in the fate of coastal ecosystems as we try to understand why our coasts are in danger. By investigating different examples of erosion and destruction on our coasts, you will learn to identify patterns of change and evaluate current solutions to this ever-growing problem. You may even have a chance to brainstorm ideas for your own proposed solution. Come along as we learn about the current and future state of our dynamic coasts!
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!
Passageway to Creativity: The Power of Poetry
When you write a book you must not / forget to build a door you can use / to get out…” These words, written by the poet Heather Christle, spark inspiration for this class and introduce us to the moving power of poetry. In this course we will dive deep into the world of poetic storytelling, exploring how we can use the tools of language to create fresh and exciting portraits of our lives and construct a literary passageway between the real world and the creative universe in our minds. We will ask questions about the art of poetry, such as: How do poets tell powerful stories using so few words? What can poetry do that novels or screenplays cannot? Which techniques lend themselves best to different styles of poems? 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. We will read poems by both classical and contemporary authors, all the while remaining poetic witnesses to the world around us and using our surroundings as creative inspiration. 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.
Career Connections at SAVY – Rising 7th Grade
Aerospace Engineering: Yes, We’re Launching Rockets
It is the dawning of a new age– reusable rockets are landing on drone ships, private companies have sent people to space, and humankind is preparing for its first manned mission to Mars. The commercialization of the space industry has renewed public interest in rocketry, and upcoming generations will soon master interplanetary travel. In order to understand the intricacies of space travel, you must first understand and appreciate the laws of physics that dictate our universe. Bridge theory and practice as you put yourself in the shoes of an aerospace engineer. Work with a team of classmates to build, design, and test your own rocket following a rigorous rocket-science crash course. Prepare for the challenge of reaching a target altitude by applying the theories and concepts you have learned along the way. You will not only be a participant in this competition, but also a judge for each team’s phase of flight. This is no walk in the park. This is launching rockets!
This class is specially designed for those interested in a future career in aerospace engineering, physics, or mathematics.
A History of You: A Study of Autobiographies
We all have different stories, dreams, fears, and talents that make us wonderfully unique and autobiographies give us a way to share our story with others. Writing an autobiography requires us to ask many big questions of ourselves, such as what makes us who we are? What are our earliest memories? Who are our role models? What are our ten unwritten rules for living? Now is the time when we get to sit down and reflect on what makes us us! In this class, you will read stories from a variety of authors to identify what makes them magical and dynamic as we start to unpack our own personal tales. We will practice different writing techniques to help jump-start the creative writing process and tell the stories of who we are. With the help of various writing prompts, readings, workshopping, and class discussions, you will have the opportunity to compose your own personal, abbreviated autobiography and share your expertise in something that you know and can tell better than anyone – the story of you!
This class is specially designed for those interested in a future career in creative writing or publishing.
The global reliance on fossil fuels has massive impacts on our health, environment, and way of life. In order to create a cleaner planet and preserve our fossil fuels, scientists have been developing alternative sources of energy to power our lives, also called green energy. But are these so-called-green technologies really the best solution? Is relying exclusively on renewable sources of energy desirable or even possible? The debate between scientists, community members, and public officials is more complex and divided than you might imagine. In this class, you will learn to evaluate how different forms of energy production generate human costs as we study different forms of energy, including coal, natural gas, solar, and wind. You will learn about the global human connections that drive energy production and gain an understanding of how each type of technology impacts people in different parts of the world. You will also have a chance to apply your new knowledge as you design and propose your own innovative solution to our energy demands.
This class is specially designed for those interested in a future career in engineering, environmental science, or clean energy.
Strength and Structures of Engineering Materials
If you’ve ever wondered how engineers know a plane won’t fall apart mid-flight, then this is the course for you! Learn principles of engineering and apply this information to machine parts and assemblies as you work first-hand with a real engineer. You will examine topics such as the stress/strain relationships within different materials, investigate failure theories, and learn how engineers predict failure by stressing materials until they break and examining how and when the failure occurred, just like structural engineers do. You may also have the opportunity to visit Vanderbilt Engineering labs and put your newfound knowledge to the test. It’s time to examine stress and learn from failure in true engineering fashion!
This class is specially designed for those interested in a future career in architecture, industrial design, or structural engineering.
The Science and Ethics of Genome Editing: The Intersection of Biology and Philosophy
Topics in genetics are becoming more popular and genetics research is a fast growing field with long lasting implications for society. In this class we will tackle some of the big issues surrounding genetic engineering. Is genome editing safe? Should there be federal regulations concerning which genomes can be edited and to what extent? We will begin with an overview of molecular biology and genome editing processes. You will learn how methodologies used to edit genomes have been applied in basic science research, agriculture, and therapeutics, while also examining the long term implications of genome editing as it affects daily life. With an emerging understanding of the science behind this issue at the center of public consciousness, we will then consider ethical questions and work to participate in informed scientific conversations about this important topic. Be prepared to ask questions, conduct interdisciplinary research, and defend your own stance on this issue.
Note: This course will include scholarly discussions about topics that are controversial and the potential to be polarizing. Students and parents should therefore consider whether they are comfortable with participation in this course.
This class is specially designed for those interested in a future career in biological research, medicine, health science, or health communication.
>Have you ever wondered how a celebrity millionaire could find himself bankrupt? Or how a giant corporation can influence our decision to buy a cool new device? What factors influence the way we spend our money? Behavioral economists work to explain what motivates people to make certain financial decisions and uncover why people spend their money the way they do. In this course you will get a primer in basic economic theory and replicate famous psychological experiments in order to better understand and predict humans’ often irrational behaviors. People may not always make expected and reasonable financial decisions, but the right research can help us understand why. Through case-studies, research, debates, and discussion, we will learn about the impulsiveness of humans and how emotions can play a powerful role in financial decision-making and spending. By the end of this course you will be thinking like an economist and won’t look at commercials or the stock market in the same way!
This class is specially designed for those interested in a future career in financial planning, banking, investing, or marketing.