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Session 4: July 6-17

July 6-17

Morning (9 am – 11:45 am) Afternoon (12:45 pm -3:45 pm)
Rising 1st Budding Botanist Story Creations
Rising 2nd/3rd Ecological Explorers Charting Your Hero’s Journey
Rising 4th/5th The Golden Age of Piracy The Mathematics of Card Shuffling
Rising 6th/7th Common & Practical Chemistry Follow the Leader

Course Descriptions


AM: Budding Botanist

You’ve just discovered a professor’s old journal and notes. His notes are fascinating! He suggests that plants can possibly be used as an alternative fuel source. Could he be right? Get your lab coat ready! In this class you will take on the role of a botanist to investigate this professor’s idea. Before determining if plants can be used as a fuel source, you will first learn as much as you can about the life cycle and structure of plants by conducting experiments and field investigation. Come ready to get dirty as you unearth hidden truths about plants!

PM: Story Creations

Have you ever read a great story and wondered how the author created such a masterpiece? What makes a great story so powerful? How do illustrations add to the power of a story? We will explore these questions and more as you take on the role of storyteller and professional writer. In this session, you will explore the writing process and learn engaging, interactive, and dynamic strategies that help you focus on story you are creating. You will learn strategies to help create the best versions of your creations! Whether you are crafting a story about a personal experience or a tale to persuade an audience, you will learn the tricks and behaviors of great writers. By the end of the class, you will have a great start to a portfolio of literary work!


AM: Ecological Explorers

Have you ever wondered what makes the best habitat for a crayfish? Or why one plant thrives in a particular location but can’t take root in another? If so, come join our team of ecological explorers as we uncover the secrets behind living organisms and their environments! In this class, you’ll gather and analyze data from experiments, computer simulations, and field observations around Vanderbilt’s campus to determine how all the different parts of an ecosystem work together. Once you dig below the earth’s surface, you’ll see the world in a whole new way!

PM: Charting Your Hero’s Journey

Are you ready to answer the call to adventure and follow in the footsteps of the literary and historical heroes who have gone before you? Join us as we study how heroes from classic literature, modern movies, and even Storycorps participants travel into the unknown, face challenges, and return home transformed. We will chart their progress through the stages of the journey, geographically, multimodally, and through enactment. We will discuss how these stories relate to our everyday experiences, binding us to other heroes. Then we will then turn the lens inward to compose digital stories of our own journeys, using tools such as Book Creator, Animoto, and Animation Desk. Get ready to read, reflect, map, act, and compose as we engage in the timeless purpose of literacy—to make meaning of our human experience.


AM: The Golden Age of Piracy

After losing millions of pounds to years of relentless attacks on his ships, King George of England declared that the Atlantic Ocean was “infested with pirates,” and hired a slew of pirate-hunters to protect English shipping in 1724. Armed with primary sources like letters and early newspapers, this class will explore the historical reasons why piracy was so popular at this time and place. In this course, you will identify key people and events that shaped criminal activity on the high seas. We will read unique documents, like the last words of some of history’s most bloody pirates, in order to understand more about what life was like for both pirates and pirate-hunters in this time period historians now refer to as the Golden Age of Piracy.

PM: The Mathematics of Card Shuffling

Card shuffling ensures fairness in a game, right? One of the most common types of shuffles, the riffle shuffle, involves dividing the deck in half and releasing the cards by the thumbs so they interlace. What if you cut the cards in half and interlace the cards perfectly? Perfect shuffles have been used by magicians to trick and amaze. In this class you will learn the math behind perfect shuffles. Shuffling can be related to a specific type of math called permutation, which is a form of abstract algebra. You will study how to use our understanding of permutations to solve not only our shuffling dilemma, but also to investigate problems that involve groups, orders, combinations, and symmetry of regular polygons. And, with an understanding of permutations, you will be able to amaze your friends as explain how to use math in card shuffling!


AM: Common and Practical Chemistry

From paint and glue to fluorescent lighting to household appliances, chemistry is at work all around us. During this course, you will learn chemistry’s impact on you as we investigate its role in your everyday life. To better comprehend the chemistry of everyday things, we will explore basic principles of general, organic, inorganic, and physical chemistry. During our investigation of everyday chemistry you will delve into central ideas related to chemistry like the ideal gas law, rotational and vibrational energy states, polymerization, catalysis, fluorescence, thermodynamics, solubility rules, electrochemistry, photochemistry, and redox reactions. Ultimately, you will come out of this class not only with a larger science vocabulary, but a real appreciation and understanding of how chemistry impacts your day-to-day life. Chemistry isn’t something you just read about in a book; its something you experience everyday!

PM: Follow the Leader

From speaking Spanish to cooking your dad’s signature spaghetti sauce, much of learning involves social interaction. Human beings are savvy socializers and learners long before reaching adulthood, adjusting how closely they follow the instructions of others or imitate their behavior depending on the situations they’re in. But it’s a fine line to walk – imitate your Spanish teacher too loosely and you’re unintelligible, but follow your dad’s recipe too closely and you’ll never invent your own signature dish. How do people decide when, what, and who to learn from? When does social learning lead to cooperation and consensus, and when does it lead to conformity or negative peer pressure? In this course, we will explore and analyze the psychology of social learning from infancy to adulthood, discovering the ways following the leader can be useful or problematic – and sometimes both!