After nine months of homework, books, and being cooped up inside for the odd Chicago-area “snowpocalypse,” the idea of spending the oh-so-few summer months in school may underwhelm. Nonetheless, Bria, a goal-oriented student in middle school is considering it. She spent at least a portion of her 2010 summer indoors studying Pre-Algebra because she wanted to test into Honors Algebra I in her local school. She was surprised to find that in the Apogee program, part of Center for Talent Development at Northwestern University’s Summer Program and where she chose to go, she could work hard and play hard too.
What isn’t always as well known are the long-term effects of participating in an accelerated summer program. Students are more likely to take a more rigorous course of study in school and attend more selective colleges (Barnett & Durden, 1993). Research also suggests that females in particular benefit in mathematics achievement. Grant and Olszewski-Kubilius (1996) found that females who studied math tended to accelerate more often and earned more honors in math during high school. And, they gained more confidence—something that Bria’s experience seems to demonstrate.
“I thought it was just going to be all academics, all the time, and not a lot of fun,” said Bria whose Mom signed her up for the Apogee three-week program for students in grades 4 through 6 and located in Evanston, Illinois. “It was really good because when we were in class, we worked really hard. By end of second week, the class was really intense. We had to study and go over things. But when we relaxed, we had a lot of fun.”
Bria remembers a long list of last summer’s activities: playing capture the flag, volleyball, Jeopardy, going to the beach and downtown Evanston, indoor camping and making s’mores in the residence hall kitchen, a team race with several challenges including the teammates spelling a difficult word using their bodies, foosball, Ping-Pong, weekly dances, ice skating, a Hawaiian luau, and a carnival.
Bria met a lot of people, and still keeps in touch with her classmates from Apogee, many from other countries, via e-mail and text.
All the summer fun didn’t distract Bria from achieving her goal of getting a firm grasp of pre-algebra and a sense of what was to come in Algebra. Now in grade 7, Bria is doing well and is even helping her classmates. “I find myself saying a lot of the time—even just today—that I already know what is new to everyone else in the class from taking Pre-Algebra last summer at CTD. People at my school call me ‘the math genius’ because I’m the person that they come to when they need help. I enjoy math a lot.”
Bria says she recommends the program especially to students who have a specific interest in a subject because it offers the opportunity to focus in that area all day. This summer, Bria says she is thinking about returning to CTD to study Geometry Honors.
What does this math whiz want to do? “My dream job changes every year or so,” she says. “At one point, I wanted to be a forensic anthropologist. Now I want to be and OB/GYN or a neurosurgeon.”
Want to know more about how to choose the best summer program for you or your child? Visit the National Association for Gifted Children’s (NAGC) web site for a the resource “How to Choose a Summer Program”.
Interested in attending the Summer Program at CTD? In addition to the Apogee program, CTD offers programs for all age groups from PreK through grade 12 (Leapfrog: PreK through grade 3; Solstice for grade 4; Spark, a two-week program for students in grades 4 through 6; Spectrum for students in grades 7 and 8, and Equinox for students in grades 9 through 12). Check out the CTD web site for a complete list of courses, full course descriptions, and to apply.
Barnett, L. B. and Durden, W. G. (1993). Education patterns of academically talented youth. Gifted Child Quarterly, 37(4), 161-168.
Olszewski-Kubilius P., and Grant, B. (1996). Academically talented women and mathematics: The role of special programs and support from others in acceleration, achievement and aspiration. In K. D. Noble and R. F. Subotnik (Eds.) Remarkable Women: Perspectives on Female Talent Development (pp. 281-294). Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.