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SAVY Summer 2024 Courses

We continue to accept applications on a rolling basis through the spring.

Below you can find the course offerings from Summer 2024.

Course Availability Key:

CLOSED
Full–waiting list only
Available–limited space
Available

Click here for more information on tuition or explore the sidebar for more information about SAVY. There is a $50 non-refundable application fee and you can apply for multiple sessions with one application fee. Once enrolled, each five-day session costs $625. Session 2 is a four-day session and costs $500.

Please contact our office at 615-322-2664 or savy.pty@vanderbilt.edu if you have questions about availability or the length of the waiting list. Please note that it may take up to three weeks to process completed applications coming in after the close of the application priority window (January 11).

Click any session in the table below to jump to the course descriptions for that session, or scroll below to see all summer sessions and courses. If viewing from a phone or tablet, we recommend viewing in a landscape view. 

**Course availability updated 2/21/2024 

Current Grade
(Summer)
Kindergarten & 1st Grade
(Rising 1st/2nd)
2nd & 3rd Grade
(Rising 3rd/4th)
4th & 5th Grade
(Rising 5th/6th)
6th & 7th Grade
(Rising 7th/8th)
Session 1
June 10-14
(1) Encounters with Measurement
(2)Intro to Chemical Engineering: Engineering with Play Dough
(1) Cryptology
(2)Industrial Engineering
(3) The Makings of America: Rebellion, Revolt, and Resolution
(1) Ancient Roots and Ruins: Exploring the Impact and Influence of the Roman Empire
(2) Common and Practical Chemistry
Learn more about the
residential program for
rising 7th graders
Session 2 June 17-21 **No class on Weds, 6/19(1) Playing with Words
(2) Sun and Shadow
(1) Adventures in Algebra
(2) Forces of Nature: Wind, Energy, and Engineering
(3) Programming and Robotics
(1) Biology of the Body
(2) Culinary Anthropology: Exploring Food and Culture
Session 3
June 24-28
(1) Animal Adaptations
(2) Forensic Science: Cracking the Case
(1) Circuitry, Systems, and Design: Electrical Engineering
(2) Dabbling with DNA: Genetics All Around Us
(3) The One to Beat: Using Algebra to Make and Break Records
(1) Math & Music
(2) The Road to the White House
Session 4
July 8-12
(1) Beyond the Pyramids
(2) Water and Weather
(1) Ecological Expedition: Exploring Ecology Through Literature
(2) Mathematicians in History
(3) Space Academy: Exploring the Work of Astronauts
(1) Coding and Robotics
(2) From Myth to Modern Legend: Greek Mythology
(1) Engineering 101
(2) From the Page to the Stage: Novel to Script to Production
(3) Neurobiology of Learning
Session 5
July 15-19
(1) Earth Science Rocks!
(2) Engineering Design: Full STEAM Ahead!
(1)Chemical Spill
(2) Programming and Robotics
(3) Tremendous Transformations in Writing
(1) Intro to Neurobiology
(2) Wildlife Ecology
(1) Exploring the Human Mind: An Introduction to Psychological Research
(2) Invasive Species
(3) The Power of Persuasion
Session 6
July 22-26
(1) Creative Contraptions: A Study of Inventions
(2) Intro to Coding
(1) Numbers Big and Small
(2) The Science of Senses
(3) The Story of You! An Invitation to Write and Explore Autobiography
(1) Individuality vs Conformity
(2) Intro to Engineering
(1) How to Change the World: Social Movements and Collective Action
(2) Science Communication and Immunology
(3) Urban Transportation and Data Analytics

Session 1: June 10—14
Rising 1st/2nd Grade

Encounters with Measurement *

Legend has it that deep in the Himalayan Mountains lives a large creature known as the Yeti. To date, no one has actually seen a Yeti. However, you are on an exploration team that just discovered massive footprints near where people believe it lives. Could it be that your team discovered the first real evidence that the Yeti exists? It’s time to use your discovery to learn more about the elusive Yeti! Can you use the found footprint to estimate the Yeti’s size? Once you determine its size, can you estimate the likely size of its living space? What other information about the Yeti can you potentially conclude by using measurement principles? How do your calculations compare to your team members’ mathematical calculations? In this course, you will investigate the many ways that we measure through hands-on, engaging mathematical challenges. You will even help others understand the likely size of a Yeti by creating a true-to-size drawing of the creature. Get ready to measure up, down, and all around as you learn how to quantify space by measuring length, perimeter, area, and volume. After this course, you will not only realize that measurement matters, but you will also know how to measure whatever you encounter! 

 *Some components of course adapted from an evidence-based curriculum, In Search of the Yeti: Measuring Up, Down, and All Around, from Project M3. 

Intro to Chemical Engineering: Engineering with Play Dough *

Do you like to play with play dough? What makes it so much fun? Did you know that making sure that play dough is the perfect texture and consistency is important work? It takes the skill of an engineer to figure out how to make the perfect batch of play dough that can be used over and over again! Are you ready for the challenge?  

In this course, you will learn about the states of matter and the properties of different materials and mixtures as you take on the role of a chemical engineer and work to design the best batch of play dough. Through developing hypotheses, trying different mixtures of materials, experimenting, collecting data, and testing your creations, you will go through the engineering design process to figure out the best dough “recipe.” By the end of the week, you will never think about play dough the same way again! 

*Some components of course adapted from an evidence-based curriculum, A Work in Process: Improving a Play Dough Process, from Engineering is Elementary (EiE) and the Museum of Science, Boston

Rising 3rd/4th Grade

Cryptology

What role does cryptology play in our history and our future? How can we use patterns and structures to solve codes? Can understanding Ancient Number Systems help deepen our understanding of the Base 10 Hindu-Arabic Number System used today? Cryptology is the study of secret codes and ciphers that involve encoding and decoding information. The mathematics behind encoding and decoding information is one of technology’s hottest careers, and encryption plays a huge role in our society, protecting our electronic information. In this exciting interdisciplinary unit that uses the children’s book, “The Eleventh Hour” by Graeme Base as its guide, you will become code breakers who can solve not only the mystery of who stole the feast but also other puzzles that come your way! You will learn to use basic cryptology ciphers, as well as the universal code of place value and mathematics to communicate your thinking. You will study ancient number systems, such as ones the Babylonians used, Roman Numerals, and the base 2 system used in computer coding to unlock secret messages and discover how mathematicians must universally understand the language of numbers to communicate effectively. 

Industrial Engineering*

How are new machines developed to do important work? Whether or not you realize it, machines are important to our lives. From the clothes you wear to the food you eat to the place you call home, machines are involved in some way in making or assembling most things we use on a daily basis. Industrial engineers to the rescue!

In this course, you will take on the role of an industrial engineer as you conduct investigations to learn more about simple and compound machines and how these machines can make work easier. Come ready to apply what you learn to design, create, and test your own machine creations as you and your fellow industrial engineers create an assembly line sub-system for a factory in need of some help with their potato chip production problem. Think your job is over after the design? It has only just begun! You will need to debate the pros and cons of your machine creations and assembly line work as we investigate the use of machines from the perspective of multiple stakeholders including factory managers, workers, and consumers. We will really put our machines and minds to work in this hands-on engineering class! 

*Some components of course adapted from an evidence-based curriculum, Marvelous Machines: Making Work Easier, from Engineering is Elementary (EiE) and the Museum of Science, Boston.

The Makings of America: Rebellion, Revolt, and Resolution*

Studying history is not just memorizing dates and facts. It is about analyzing the past and considering how it impacts our present and future. Certain events in history have created profound change, altering the course of human life foreverIn this course, you will explore the people, places, and events of the American Revolution to understand how a government designed “by the people” and “for the people” rose out of the gunfire and turmoil in the 1700s.

You’ll investigate the causes and effects, consequences, and implications, as well as evaluate different historical perspectives as explored by biographer, Ron Chernow, and Broadway star, Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton). Come ready to take on the role of historian as you analyze primary sources, such as advertisements, speeches, letters, and even song lyrics, and join us for 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! 

*Some components of course adapted from an evidence-based curriculum,The World Turned Upside Down: The American Revolution, from the College of William and Mary

Rising 5th/6th Grade

Ancient Roots and Ruins: Exploring the Impact and Influence of the Roman Empire*

Are you curious how ancient civilizations still influence our world today? How can studying ancient history help us better understand life now and in the future? One commonly studied ancient civilization is Ancient Rome. Did you know that the Roman Empire lasted for over 1000 years and is considered one of the most powerful and influential empires in history? What lessons learned by those in the Roman Empire are still relevant in today’s world? In this course, we will embark on a journey through the captivating world of Ancient Rome! You will explore the evolution of Roman civilization, including its culture, language, and people. You’ll immerse yourself in the remnants of antiquity as you investigate Roman art, architecture, and literature and uncover the dynamics of power, politics, and religion that sustained the empire before bringing it to its legendary fall. Through an interdisciplinary approach encompassing history, linguistics, art, and philosophy, you will begin to unveil the intricate tapestry of Ancient Rome. 

*Some components of course adapted from an evidence-based curriculum,Ancient Roots and Ruins: A Guide to Understanding the Romans, Their World, and Their Language, by Ariel Baska and Joyce VanTassel-Baska, Ed.D.

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, you will explore basic principles of general, organic, inorganic, and physical chemistry and delve into central ideas related to chemistry like the ideal gas law, polymerization, catalysis, fluorescence, thermodynamics, solubility rules, electrochemistry, photochemistry, and redox reactions. Ultimately, you will come out of this course not only with a larger science vocabulary, but also 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; it is something you experience every day!

Session 2: June 17—21, **No class on Wednesday, June 19
Rising 1st/2nd Grade

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 course, you’ll see how authors use words and phrases to capture their readers through laughter and complex thoughts. 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 an exceptional picture. 

*Some components of course adapted from an evidence-based curriculum, Beyond Words, from the College of William and Mary.

Sun and Shadow*

What causes shadows to form, and how do they change throughout the day? How does the sun’s position affect shadows? How do scientists use observations from sunlight and shadows to help us understand the Earth better? In this course, you will explore the dynamic relationship between the sun and shadows, learning how they impact the environment and daily life on Earth. You’ll take on the role of a scientist engaging in experiments, observations, and critical thinking activities to better understand how light, heat, and the sun shape our world and the role shadows play in this interaction. 

*Some components of course adapted from an evidence-based curriculum, How the Sun Makes Our Day, from the College of William Mary Science.

Rising 3rd/4th Grade

Adventures in Algebra*

Do you like to play mathematical games? Can you use mathematical tricks to solve the most challenging problems with numbers? Can you think of multiple ways to get to the right answer and explain when one strategy might work better than another? In this course, you will go on an unforgettable journey into the fun and complex world of algebraic thinking, where you will explore how to use important strategies and games to discover mathematical patterns, formulas, and algebraic expressions. In addition, you will also perform complex math computations to solve for missing variables. Get ready to wow family and friends with your mathematical skills and clever thinking. Math isn’t just fun in this class; it’s an adventure in the world of algebraic thinking! 

*Some components of course adapted from an evidence-based curriculum, Awesome Algebra, from project M3. 

Forces of Nature: Wind, Energy, and Engineering *

Windmills are one of the fastest growing sources of renewable energy on the planet. How can wind be used to harness energy? How do motion, force, energy, and materials impact the design of technologies that are powered by wind? In this class, you will take on the role of a mechanical engineer as you explore how wind can be used to power machines.  

As part of the investigation, you will begin by learning about the energy and motion present in common machines. You will then explore the impact different parts and materials have on how a machine works, as well as the various technologies that use wind energy, ultimately using this knowledge and the engineering design process to create different wind-power machines to provide a solution to a real-world wind-related problem. At the end of the week, you will blow away others with your new engineering design knowledge! Are you ready to take on the forces of nature with engineering? 

*Some components of course adapted from an evidence-based curriculum, Catching the Wind: Designing Windmills, from Engineering is Elementary (EiE) and the Museum of Science, Boston.

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 interactive robots and building your own LEGO BricQ Robot! 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! 

*LEGO BricQ Motion Prime and code.org will be utilized.  

Rising 5th/6th Grade

Biology of 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 spread and how they affect our bodies? Have you ever wondered 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 course as we tackle the medical mystery of tuberculosis.  

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 with your peers, you will discover how cells, tissues, and organs break down during this illness and what can be done to bring them back into a healthy balance. Get ready for a hands-on experience where you will grapple with big problems of the body that do not have quick fixes—the problems that real scientists and doctors ponder every day! 

*Some components of course adapted from an evidence-based curriculum, No Quick Fix, from the College of William and Mary.

Culinary Anthropology: Exploring Food and Culture*

Does the food around us influence our cultures, or do our cultures influence the food around us? Cultures and societies from all around the world have varying preferences, taboos, and rituals that shape their consumption and feelings around food. Food has been a central part of cultural celebrations, gatherings, and social connections across history. From the interplay of food production, distribution, and consumption to the significance of seating arrangements, dining rituals, and etiquette, you’ll delve into the multifaceted relationship between food, culture, and society. This course will explore both Western and non-Western cultures and customs around food through an anthropological lens. 

Note: Some consumption of food will be involved in this course. 

Session 3: June 24—28
Rising 1st/2nd Grade

Animal Adaptations*

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, you will investigate the ways that animals survive and thrive on our planet by learning about the characteristics that make animal species different and examining the unique habitats that they call home. You 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. By the week’s end, you’ll take on the role of scientist and animal advocate as you 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! 

*Some components of course adapted from an evidence-based curriculum, Survive and Thrive, from the College of William and Mary

Forensic Science: Cracking the Case 

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 your guide, you will develop hypotheses, conduct experiments, and analyze information to figure out the case of the missing item. Together with your peers, you will take on the role of biologists, chemists, and researchers as you practice different techniques, such as DNA extraction, chromatography, and fingerprint analysis, to solve the case. After collecting and studying the evidence, you will make predictions about what you think happened and debate all the ideas to come to a final conclusion. Will you join us so we can crack the case? 

Rising 3rd/4th Grade

Circuitry, Systems, 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.

*Some components of course adapted from an evidence-based curriculum, Electricity City, from the College of William and Mary.

Dabbling with DNA: Genetics All 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.

In this course, you will answer these questions and more where you’ll be introduced 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 you investigate ways that DNA can be modified to create new organisms, medicines, and foods.

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 various kinds of graphs to record our own record-breaking attempts. You will conduct experiments to practice recording and interpreting your own data methods and results, putting your algebra skills to the test as you try to calculate how to break world records. Who knows–you may leave this class with ideas about how to get your name in the Guinness Book of World Records while also learning more about math! 

*Some components of course adapted from an evidence-based curriculum, Record Makers and Breakers, from Project M3. 

Rising 5th/6th Grade

Math & 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 course, you will uncover how mathematical concepts are concealed in your favorite songs and genres. You will examine topics, such as set theory, musical scales, frequency, matrices, serialism, compositional techniques, and the Fibonacci sequence, to help you reach an understanding of the intersection of math and music. Furthermore, you will dissect famous songs from various well-known artists to examine patterns within and across genres. A musical background is helpful but not required. After this course, you may have a new mathematical appreciation for music of all kinds! 

The Road to the White House 

The American government is built on a set of systems, processes, and elections – none with more fanfare or weight than the presidential election. What are some of the defining principles of democracy? How does American democracy differ from other democratic systems of government? What steps are involved in the presidential election process? Historically, how has the media played a role in the campaign and election process? How does the electoral college work? In this course, ou will review historic elections, discover how to evaluate primary sources, be a part of a mock election, and reflect on the responsibility for creating community. 

Note: The scope of this course will focus on historical foundations and structural systems that govern U.S. presidential elections. Current political platforms or candidates do not fall within the lesson content or course focus.  

*Some components of course adapted from an evidence-based curriculum, The Road to the White House: Electing the American President, from The College of William and Mary. 

Session 4: July 812
Rising 1st/2nd Grade

Beyond the Pyramids*

Did you know that the Ancient Egyptian civilization lasted over 3,000 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? When we think of Ancient Egypt we often think about pyramids, mummies, and hieroglyphics, but the culture has even more to offer. In this course, you will investigate these questions and more as you critically analyze the systems within this society. 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. Don’t worry — we will talk about mummies and pyramids too. Plus, you’ll even get to try your hand at writing Egyptian hieroglyphics! 

*Some components of course adapted from an evidence-based curriculum, Ancient Egypt: Gift of the Nile, from the College of William and Mary. 

Water and Weather*

Can water disappear and reappear? What factors determine if an object will sink or float? How does water impact the weather? How do meteorologists forecast the weather? In this course, you will unravel the mysteries of water and weather as well as the relationship between them. Through experiments and observation, you’ll discover the phenomena of water disappearance and reappearance, explore density, and investigate the interactions of water with other substances. You’ll even engineer floatation devices! Stepping into the shoes of a meteorologist, you will put your newfound understanding of water to work to explore the relationship between weather and water.  You will also explore weather patterns, practice preparing weather reports, and investigate extreme weather occurrences. Through this immersive journey, you will learn how water and weather are key examples of the change all around us! 

*Some components of course adapted from an evidence-based curriculum, Weather Reporter and Water Works, from The College of William & Mary 

Rising 3rd/4th Grade

Ecological Expedition: Exploring Ecology Through Literature*

Should animals be kept in zoos? Should a forest be cleared to make way for a much-needed grocery store? In this course, you will become a scientific researcher investigating these questions and more through an interdisciplinary examination of ecology, where you will explore the relationship between plants, animals, and humans in the environment. Using multiple examples from literature that address interactions between plants, animals, and humans, you will investigate and analyze the interactions of the story elements. Come ready to debate big questions in ecology through multiple perspectives. Along the way, you 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! 

*Some components of course adapted from an evidence-based curriculum, Interactions in Ecology and Literature, from Vanderbilt Programs for Talented Youth. 

Mathematicians in History

Do you enjoy playing with numbers? Do you notice patterns or make connections that help you predict things around you? Do you like to tinker with unusual ideas and objects that could solve problems? If so, you’ll have a great time putting your mathematical mind to work with us! You will start by taking a deeper look into the lives and mathematical thinking of well-known experts like Pythagoras, Archimedes, Galileo, Newton, and Pascal, as well as Hypatia, John Napier, Pierre de Fermat, Sophie Germain, and Carl Gauss. Then, you will sharpen your pencils and get ready to sketch some new thoughts, calculate some numbers, and organize some data, so you can observe, question, build, arrange, and test out ideas. The science of mathematics could be a new discovery for you AND lead to an invention that solves a big world problem (or two, but who’s counting?).

Space Academy: Exploring the Work of Astronauts

Astronauts are scientists, problem solvers, critical thinkers, and explorers. Have you ever wondered what it takes for an astronaut to prepare for their journey? What are the forces of flight that help a shuttle get to space? What are the planets like, and whatever happened to Pluto? Prepare for an exploration through the stars and problem solve new challenges at each planetary stop along the solar system. In this class, we will simulate the phases of the moon, navigate the challenges of microgravity, discover the mythology used to explain interstellar mysteries, and much more. Come learn, discover and explore at the space academy! 

*Some components of course adapted from an inter-disciplinary curriculum, Astronaut Academy, by Jason S. McIntosh, Ph.D

Rising 5th/6th Grade

Coding 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 building and programming your own robotic creations using LEGO Spike Prime!  

In this course, you will learn effective ways to collaborate, communicate, and make decisions as part of a team. You will explore the steps in the engineering design process to identify problems and brainstorm ideas with your peers, then work together to create and program prototypes using LEGO Spike Prime. You will learn how to troubleshoot issues, test your creations, and improve your designs through iterations. After taking this course, you will have new strategies for teamwork and leadership, as well as ideas about how you can use coding and robotics to solve big problems in our world today! 

From Myth to Modern Legend: Greek Mythology 

Zeus. Aphrodite. Persephone. Achilles. Perseus. Helen of Troy. You may have heard of these most famous names of Greek mythology, but do you know the real stories? In this course, you will not only examine a variety of Greek myths but also investigate the ways in which those myths have shifted over time to form the modern books and movies that have captured our cultural fascination! You will work on our analytical writing and critical thinking skills needed for middle and high school and beyond and let your creative side loose.  

Our time together will begin with understanding the purpose of myths and why scholars continue to study them to this day. Next, we will dive into individual myths, acting them out to put ourselves in the heroes’ shoes and comparing the original legends to recent film adaptations. Finally, we will wrap up the week by crafting, analyzing, and performing our own versions of Greek myths in modern-day settings in order to critically consider the role that these tales continue to play in our daily lives. 

Career Connections: Rising 7th/8th Grade

Engineering 101  

Engineering is broad term, and there are many types of engineers. In studying the vastly different types of work that engineers do, you may ask questions such as: What qualities do all engineers need to possess? What do all types of engineering have in common and in what ways are they different? How do engineers collaborate with each other and experts outside of their field to accomplish a goal?  

There are five main categories of engineering: biological, chemical, civil, electrical, and mechanical. Within these categories, there are numerous job opportunities and specializations. If you are interested in engineering, how can you determine which type of engineering is right for you? The first step is to know the various types of work associated with each category of engineering. In this class, you will explore the work associated with these different categories through hands-on experiences and problem-based learning tasks. During this exploration, you will address questions such as: How do different types of engineers work together to build a city or design a building or an airplane? How are engineers working towards sustainable, renewable, or green energy sources? What do golf balls and boats have to do with fluid dynamics and mechanical engineering? What role do engineers play in medicine? As you investigate these questions and more, you will discover that regardless of their specialization, engineers create solutions for our daily lives. Join us as we survey the field of engineering. 

This class is specially designed for those interested in exploring a career in engineering. 

From the Page to the Stage: Novel to Script to Production

Every great theatrical production is a combination of the imagination and storytelling abilities of the playwright, director, and actors. Theater makers must take the words on the page and turn them into unique productions. What does this process look like? What do actors and directors have to consider when developing a production that will surprise and excite an audience while also satisfying the audience’s attachment to a story they may know? How can artistic choices by theater makers portray the meaning, themes, mood, and tone envisioned by the playwright while remaining original? You will answer these questions and more as you explore excerpts from a novel and/or short stories while critically analyzing the choices made when turning them into a script. You will be empowered and challenged to envision and workshop aspects of a future production. How will your artistic choices impact the audience’s understanding of the script and the original novel? Explore notions of devised and suggested theater as you take on the role of actor, writer, and director, and learn the skills needed to critically analyze any text you love and bring it to life for others! 

This class is specially designed for those interested in exploring a career in theatrical production, playwriting, screenwriting, creative writing, or other entertainment media fields.

Neurobiology of Learning

Your brain is the most powerful organ in your body. It helps control your breathing, your feelings, and even your body temperature, but how does it affect learning, memory, and decision making? How can our social life, stress levels, or sleep hygiene affect our mental wellbeing and cognitive functions? How are we able to remember some things but not remember others? In this course, you will take an in-depth look at the biology of your brain and discuss how your brain influences other systems in your body. You will learn about the important neurotransmitters in your brain and how they contribute to your emotions, learning, and overall health. 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! 

This class is specially designed for those interested in exploring a career regarding biology, psychology, neuroscience, mental health, and other related science/math fields. 

Session 5: July 1519
Rising 1st/2nd Grade

Earth Science Rocks!

How are different rocks formed? How are minerals, rocks, and soil connected? How does weather and time affect the earth’s surface? In this course, you will become a rock detective! Through hands-on experiments and observations, you will learn about the components of rocks, how to categorize rocks, and the workings of the rock cycle. What is soil and why does it matter? What is erosion, and what can we do about it? How can rocks and soil teach us about change over time? Get ready to dig in as you learn what it takes to be a scientist and geologist, and uncover the mysteries of earth, science, rocks through hands-on exploration! 

*Some components of course adapted from an evidence-based curriculum, The Earth Beneath Our Feet, from the College of William and Mary. 

Engineering Design: Full STEAM Ahead!*

The work of civil engineers is everywhere! Have you ever wondered how civil engineers design structures that are safe and can stand the test of time? From buildings and bridges to tunnels and roads, being a civil engineer requires working through complex design challenges. Engineers have to think about such things as force, balance, stability, geometry, and beauty. There is a lot of STEAM knowledge in the process!  In this course, you will each take on the role of a civil engineer as you learn about the engineering design process and put your new knowledge to work with design challenges related to bridges. What do civil engineers have to think about when building a bridge? How does force impact the stability of a structure? How does the structure’s design create balance and stability? How are geometry principles used to create structures that are pleasing to the eye while also stable? Come ready to think logically and creatively as we roll up our sleeves to answer these questions and more while building model bridges. You will collect data and consider aesthetics to determine the best bridge designs, just like real civil engineers. Are you ready for the challenge? Then full STEAM ahead!   

*Some components of course adapted from an evidence-based curriculum, To Get to the Other Side: Designing Bridges, from Engineering is Elementary (EiE) and the Museum of Science, Boston.

Rising 3rd/4th Grade

Chemical Spill

A truck carrying an unidentified liquid has crashed on a busy highway, and its liquid contents are leaking into a nearby creek. The city is counting on you to make sure there are no negative repercussions from this spill! In this course, 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. You 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! 

*Some components of course adapted from an evidence-based curriculum, Acid, Acid Everywhere, from the College of William and Mary.  

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 interactive robots and building your own LEGO BricQ Robot! 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! 

*LEGO BricQ Motion Prime and code.org will be utilized.  

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? How does the evolution of a character build the reader’s understanding of the story? How can words and images within a story alter our thinking or the actions of others change the world as we know it? 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 course will explore the way that authors use transformations to guide a reader toward a story’s central meaning. Through this lens, 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 voice, transforming yourself into the writer you have always wanted to be! 

*Some components of course adapted from an evidence-based curriculum, Transformations in Stories and Arguments, by Vanderbilt Programs for Talented Youth. 

Rising 5th/6th Grade

Intro to Neurobiology*

Your brain is the most powerful organ in your body. It helps control your breathing, your feelings, and even your body temperature, but how does it affect learning, memory, and decision making? How can our social life, stress levels, or sleep hygiene affect our mental wellbeing and cognitive functions? How are we able to remember some things but not remember others? In this course, you will take an in-depth look at the biology of your brain and discuss how your brain influences other systems in your body. You will learn about the important neurotransmitters in your brain and how they contribute to your emotions, learning, and overall health. 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!  

Wildlife Ecology

Congratulations! You have been asked to serve as the assistant to the mayor in a small town in Tennessee, and the mayor has just informed you of your first assignment. Your task is to work with a variety of stakeholders to determine how best to control a deer population that is growing exponentially and is negatively impacting the city. The deer are eating citizens’ landscaping and increasing citizens’ exposure to the dangerous bacteria that cause Lyme Disease. Can you develop a solution that appeases everyone and is justifiable based on research? While challenged with developing your understanding of biology and linear modeling, you will need to combine math and science to develop a solution to solve the growing deer problem. To complicate matters as you work towards an acceptable result, you will have to consider the problem and solution through multiple lenses, including environmentalists and animal activists. Oh deer—you have quite a challenge! 

*Some components of course adapted from an evidence-based curriculum, Animal Populations, from the College of William and Mary. 

Career Connections: Rising 7th/8th Grade

Exploring the Human Mind: An Introduction to Psychological Research  

Embark on a captivating journey delving into the complexities of the human mind. In this immersive one-week course, you will step into the shoes of psychological science researchers to unravel the mysteries of human behavior, cognition, and emotions. Through engaging lectures, interactive discussions, and hands-on experiences, you will grasp the fundamental pillars of psychology and psychological research, spanning developmental, social, and cognitive domains. Not only will you acquire a robust foundation in scientific inquiry, but you’ll also have the opportunity to craft your own mini research proposal, formulating research questions, constructing hypotheses, and designing an innovative study that mirrors that of seasoned psychological researchers.  

This class is specially designed for those interested in exploring a career regarding psychology, human development, research, mental health, behavioral health, and other related science/math fields. 

Invasive Species  

Today’s ecosystems are under threat from invasive species that disrupt the delicate balance of the web of life. These invasive species outcompete native fauna by stealing resources, reproducing at a faster rate, and – in some cases – changing the chemistry of the landscape in their favor. In this course, you will step into the shoes of an environmental scientist and explore how invasive species impact soil quality and biodiversity. Through fieldwork, experiments, and data analysis, you will uncover answers to essential questions, such as ‘How do invasive species alter soil composition and nutrient cycles?’ and ‘What are the consequences for land managers and conservationists?’ You’ll investigate the broader implications of invasive species on the health of our ecosystems and their resilience in the face of this ongoing challenge. By the end of the course, you will present your research and propose innovative solutions and management strategies to mitigate the effects of invasive species. Your recommendations may shape future conservation efforts and policies aimed at preserving our natural environment protecting it from invasive species. 

This class is specially designed for those interested in exploring a career in environmental science, animal science, ecology, or conservation. 

The Power of Persuasion   

Are you passionate about your ideas? Do you consider yourself a savvy negotiator? 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 specially designed for those interested in exploring a career in negotiation, debate, politics, or executive leadership. 

Session 6: July 2226
Rising 1st/2nd Grade

Creative Contraptions: A Study of Inventions*

Did you know that every great invention starts with an idea? 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 exactly does that mean? In this course, you will explore famous inventors, their lives, and how they came up with ideas for their creations and conduct investigations to learn more about simple and compound machines and how these machines can make work easier. Then, it’s your turn! You will 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! 

*Some components of course adapted from an evidence-based curriculum, Invitation to Invent, from the College of William and Mary.

Intro to Coding 

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 will be equipped with the knowledge of coding required to develop creative and useful solutions to all sorts of difficult problems. 

*LEGO or Sphero robots and code.org will be utilized. 

Rising 3rd/4th Grade

Numbers Big and Small*

What is a really small number? What is a really big number? Why do we sometimes use fractions and sometimes decimals to explain an amount or quantity? How can estimations and place values help us understand enormous numbers, like how many stars are in the sky? Working with big and small numbers can be tricky for sure, but in this course, we intend to solve problems in new ways and develop questions for the purposes of real-world active investigations. You will learn to “think like a mathematician” as never before! Can you help support a pet sanctuary in need of organizing, interpreting, and analyzing data to solve problems and care for their animals? Are you ready to practice patterns in palindromes? Let’s discover the power of the decimal point and the voluminous potential of place value to unlock understanding and conquer with numbers!  

*Some components of course adapted from an evidence-based curriculum, The Tenth Street Pet Sanctuary: Understanding and Using Decimals and How Big is Big?: Understanding and Using Large Numbers, from Project M3. 

The Science of Senses*

You are constantly using your senses to understand and interpret the outside world–feel the cold weather, taste spicy peppers, hear loud music. Did you know that each signal your body receives involves your body sending information to your brain by means of electric signals? Have you ever wondered about the role science plays in using your senses? Biology, chemistry, and neuroscience are always all at work as you use your senses to understand the world around you. In this course, you will dive into the science behind the senses, where you will experience and closely examine optical illusions, learn how an animal’s ear shape impacts hearing, and figure out why the delicious flavors of pizza have more to do with smell than taste and more! Through hands-on experiments, you will see firsthand how scientific investigators engage in this field of research. Come take a journey through the science of the senses to understand how the systems of the body help us perceive the world! 

*Some components of course adapted from The SENSE-ational Science Behind How We Discover the World Around Us: Inquiry-Based Science Lessons for Advanced and Gifted Students in Grades 4-5, by Jason S. McIntosh.

The Story of You! An Invitation to Write and Explore Autobiography*

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? Now is the time when you get to sit down and reflect on what makes you, you! As we examine autobiographical writings from a variety of authors, you will explore the power of personal stories and the techniques used in this unique form of writing. Did you know not all autobiographies are showcased through writing? You may also examine self-portraits in music, productions in theater, and works of art! You will practice different writing techniques to help jump-start the creative writing process and tell the stories of who you 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!  

*Some components of course adapted from an evidence-based curriculum, Autobiographies, from the College of William and Mary

Rising 5th/6th Grade

Individuality vs Conformity 

What is reality? Just because we perceive something to be real, does it actually exist? How do we know if something is real or just a figment of our own beliefs and imagination? Join us in this philosophical exploration of the relationship between truth and perception. In this course, you will discover how reality is presented and interpreted in fiction, nonfiction, art, and media by studying famous works by Plato, Shirley Jackson, M.C. Escher, and Vincent Van Gogh. By engaging in reflective activities such as Socratic seminars, literary analysis techniques, skits, art, and creative writing, you will begin to apply your understanding of the difference between truth and your own perception of it. You will conclude with a critical evaluation of how modern media presents reality to us, and how you can train yourself to be a smart consumer of media. Test yourself – are you perceiving the world for what it is, or are you seeing only the shadows of reality? 

*Some components of course adapted from an evidence-based curriculum, I, Me, You, We: Individuality vs. Conformity, a published unit from Vanderbilt Programs for Talented Youth.

Intro to Engineering  

What is an engineer? What realworld challenges do engineers help to solve? There are many types of engineers: mechanical, civil, electrical, chemical, biomedical, industrial, and more. How do these different types of engineers work together to build a city, design a building, or design an airplane? How are engineers working towards sustainable, renewable, or green energy sources? What do golf balls and boats have in common? In this course, you will explore the vast field of engineering and learn to think like different types of engineers to problemsolve reallife scenarios. Through a variety of hands-on experiments and intentional collaborations, you will discover what engineers actually do, and how we work together through interconnected and interdisciplinary processes to create solutions for our daily lives. 

Career Connections: Rising 7th/8th Grade

How to Change the World: Social Movements and Collective Action * 

How can individuals make a difference in addressing the problems that they view society as facing? A passive desire to change the world is never enough – organizing a movement takes imagination and work! This course delves into the intricate dynamics of social movements and collective action by employing the lens of political anthropology. Political anthropology examines historical and cultural settings, systems of power and control, and the socio-cultural processes within governments, states, parties and other political systems. 

This course aims to unravel the mechanisms through which individuals affect change in addressing societal challenges. Through an analysis of various social movements throughout history, you will gain insight into the mechanics of effecting change. During this course, you will have the chance to apply your newfound understanding of social change to critically explore how you could use these strategies to bring upon positive change at your school, community, city, or world. If you’ve ever been curious about the ability of social movements to change the world, then this is the course for you! 

This class is specially designed for those interested in exploring a career in sociology, anthropology, community organizing, or political anthropology. 

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

Science Communication and Immunology

Are you interested in a career in medicine, science, or a STEM-related field? Are you passionate about your future scientific research making a difference in our world? If so, science communication will be a critical skill that will both enhance your career (securing research funding) and broaden your impact (shaping public opinion and policy). In this course, you will begin to develop your science communication skills and toolset and learn the foundational elements of cell biology, immunology, and microbiology. Since immunology, perhaps more than any other scientific discipline, has recently been front and center in the public spotlight, it serves as a critical science communication case study that can be applied across multiple content areas. In this course, you will learn to outline and describe several major categories of human immune responses, detail key cells and their functions and behaviors in the immune system and interpret data and visuals about immune responses. With this working knowledge of the discipline, you will critique existing journal articles related to immunology, as well as produce writing samples and graphical representations of the immune response. 

This class is specially designed for those interested in exploring a career in medicine, scientific research, immunology, microbiology, or medical research. 

Urban Transportation and Data Analytics

How can big data, road planning, and understanding roadway transportation patterns help mitigate traffic accidents and save lives? How are roads and transportation related to public health and safety? If you’re interested in exploring the intricacies of transportation in urban areas, then this course is ideal for you. Exploring a diverse array of methodology, process, and design, you will delve into transportation systems centered around the Nashville region and the encompassing policies, politics, planning, and engineering aspects involved. You will learn to analyze how institutional structures impact both the process and outcomes of complex community needs. You will also explore strategies to achieve sustainable transportation, and address the challenges of balancing the environment, economy, and equity. This course goes beyond just understanding the current transportation state of affairs and encourages ways to leverage big data and data analytics. You’ll be challenged to think outside the box when it comes to transportation planning. Get ready for an exciting journey!   

**This course will utilize Python– no prior experience with coding required or expected.  

This class is specially designed for those interested in exploring a career in civil engineering, civic design, data analysis, or public health and safety.