Student Programs

At the Belin-Blank Center, we believe that gifted students deserve the chance to learn new things, develop their talents, and make friends who share their interests and abilities. Our programs are designed to do just that. Whether you're looking for a fun way to spend your summer, a way to add challenge to your school day, or even to start college early, we have something to meet your unique needs as a gifted learner.

Academic Year Programs

During the school year, you may discover that you'd like to take on some extra challenge or enroll in a class that's not offered in your school. Maybe you have an idea or project that you could submit to a competition for a chance to earn recognition or even scholarships! Or perhaps you are ready to leave high school and start college early. Our academic year programs will help you reach your goals and learn new things along the way.

BESTS Above-Level Testing

In-Person, Subject to Local School Policies

Every child deserves to learn something new every day, including the ones that ace every test. It's often the case that bright students are ready to learn things beyond the level of the grade they are in -- but how can you tell what level would be more appropriate for a particular student? One way, called above-level testing, is to give a younger student a test that was developed for older students. The Belin-Blank Exceptional Student Talent Search (BESTS) uses above-level testing to uncover information about a student's academic abilities and learning needs, helping parents and teachers discover what that student is ready to learn. Learn more.

Advanced Computer Science

Online

Do you like logic and putting things in order? Are you interested in learning how to code or about how computers and technology affect our everyday lives? Our Coders’ Lab classes will teach you programming and help you discover how you can make a difference in the world through computer science. No prior computer science experience is necessary. Learn More

Invent Iowa

Online

Have you noticed someone having a problem that you think you can fix? Do you have an idea for a product that will make the world a better place? Invent Iowa is the state's foremost competition for budding inventors and entrepreneurs! K-12 students can submit their inventions for a chance to show them off at the state invention convention. If you win big here, you'll earn a spot to represent Iowa at the National Invention Convention, where you will learn more about the invention process and compete for exciting prizes! Learn more.

Recognition Ceremony

On Hiatus for 2022

We believe academic talents deserve to be celebrated, in much the same way that athletic or musical talents are celebrated! The Belin-Blank Center’s annual Recognition Ceremony honors the accomplishments of qualifying high-ability students and the teachers who have made a difference in their lives.  Learn more.

Weekend Enrichment Program

On Hiatus for 2022

Our Weekend Enrichment program is designed to supplement what elementary and junior high students are learning in school and give them a chance to explore their interests - or discover new ones! Weekend Enrichment consists of half-day enrichment classes for students in grades 2-8 that take place at the Belin-Blank Center on the University of Iowa campus. Classes in STEM, arts, and the humanities will cultivate students’ interest and spark their curiosity!

BESTS Above-Level Testing

In-Person, Subject to Local School Policies

Every child deserves to learn something new every day, including the ones that ace every test. It's often the case that bright students are ready to learn things beyond the level of the grade they are in -- but how can you tell what level would be more appropriate for a particular student? One way, called above-level testing, is to give a younger student a test that was developed for older students. The Belin-Blank Exceptional Student Talent Search (BESTS) uses above-level testing to uncover information about a student's academic abilities and learning needs, helping parents and teachers discover what that student is ready to learn. Learn more.

Advanced Computer Science

Online

Do you like logic and putting things in order? Are you interested in learning how to code or about how computers and technology affect our everyday lives? Our Coders’ Lab classes will teach you programming and help you discover how you can make a difference in the world through computer science. No prior computer science experience is necessary. Learn More

Computer Science Python Fundamentals

Online

Learn the Python programming language at your own pace, wherever you want, without worrying about class times or the pressure of grades. This is a terrific opportunity for talented and motivated students in grades 7-9 who like to learn on their own, with access to an expert forum to have their questions answered along the way. Start anytime, and enjoy access to the content through June 30, 2022. No prior computer science experience is necessary. Learn More

Iowa Online AP® Academy

Online

Bright students are often ready for subject material beyond what is typical for their grade, but it is not always feasible for small or rural schools to offer advanced classes. The Iowa Online AP® Academy (IOAPA) provides free access to nearly 30 online advanced courses for Iowa students who do not have access to these courses in their schools. IOAPA classes include Advanced Placement® courses for high school students and high school-level courses for eligible middle school students. Learn more.

Recognition Ceremony

On Hiatus for 2022

We believe academic talents deserve to be celebrated, in much the same way that athletic or musical talents are celebrated! The Belin-Blank Center’s annual Recognition Ceremony honors the accomplishments of qualifying high-ability students and the teachers who have made a difference in their lives.  Learn more.

Scholastic Art & Writing

Online

Creative high school students can submit their art and writing samples to the nation's most prestigious recognition program, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. As the Iowa and Midwest Region-at-Large Affiliate, we accept art and writing submissions for these two regions, judge those submissions, and hold an awards ceremony recognizing regional winners. Learn more.

The Academy for Twice-Exceptionality

In-Person, Subject to University of Iowa Policies

A college journey at the University of Iowa embraces meaningful academic experiences and the development of a host of important skills that includes independence, social-emotional maturity, effective communication, and career readiness. The Belin-Blank Center's Academy for Twice-Exceptionality is a new program that partners with neurodiverse college students to foster and support these experiences and skills and enhance community engagement as an Iowa Hawkeye.

Through the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality, we strive to ensure that neurodiverse students have a positive and fulfilling college experience through a focus on nurturing students’ talents while also creating a sense of community and helping students connect with resources from the Belin-Blank Center, the University of Iowa, and the broader community. We aim for your destination to be success! Learn more.

Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy

In-Person, Subject to University of Iowa Policies

If you think you have to wait until you graduate high school to go to college, think again. The Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy empowers high-achieving students to begin full-time on-campus study at the University of Iowa after their sophomore year of high school. We support you, and a cohort of your peers, every step of the way. Are you ready? Learn more.

Computer Science Python Fundamentals

Online

Learn the Python programming language at your own pace, wherever you want, without worrying about class times or the pressure of grades. This is a terrific opportunity for talented and motivated students in grades 7-9 who like to learn on their own, with access to an expert forum to have their questions answered along the way. Start anytime, and enjoy access to the content through June 30, 2022. No prior computer science experience is necessary. Learn More

Iowa Online AP® Academy

Online

Bright students are often ready for subject material beyond what is typical for their grade, but it is not always feasible for small or rural schools to offer advanced classes. The Iowa Online AP® Academy (IOAPA) provides free access to nearly 30 online advanced courses for Iowa students who do not have access to these courses in their schools. IOAPA classes include Advanced Placement® courses for high school students and high school-level courses for eligible middle school students. Learn more.

Junior Science & Humanities Symposium

On Campus

The Iowa Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (Iowa-JSHS) program is not your average science fair! High school students compete for scholarships and recognition by presenting the results of their original research projects before a panel of judges and an audience of their peers. Students will also have the opportunity to visit cutting-edge university research labs, hear from university researchers about their work and career paths, and network with their peers. Learn more.

Recognition Ceremony

On Hiatus for 2022

We believe academic talents deserve to be celebrated, in much the same way that athletic or musical talents are celebrated! The Belin-Blank Center’s annual Recognition Ceremony honors the accomplishments of qualifying high-ability students and the teachers who have made a difference in their lives.  Learn more.

Scholastic Art & Writing

Online

Creative high school students can submit their art and writing samples to the nation's most prestigious recognition program, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. As the Iowa and Midwest Region-at-Large Affiliate, we accept art and writing submissions for these two regions, judge those submissions, and hold an awards ceremony recognizing regional winners. Learn more.

Summer Programs

Our summer programs take you on a deep dive into a topic of your choice with other bright kids like you. We offer a wide range of rigorous classes to choose from, and most importantly, they are lots of fun! Programs include commuter and residential options for students in grades 2-11 in areas such as science, technology, math, art, writing, and leadership. They take place on the University of Iowa campus, giving you access to valuable university-level resources and experts. Participation in a school’s gifted program is not required.

Junior Scholars Academy

On Campus

JSA is a summer commuter program designed specifically for bright elementary and middle school students who want to thoroughly explore a topic - all while having fun with other kids who share their enthusiasm for learning. Students from 2nd to 8th grade with a deep curiosity, a love of learning, or a lot of talent in a particular area will feel right at home in JSA. Classes run from 9am - 4pm every day for a full week - and these aren't just any regular classes! With past options like Harry Potter, STEAM, Mixed Media Art, Engineering, Virtual Reality, Programming (and more!), we're sure to have something for any curious kid. Learn more.

Blank Summer Institute

On Campus

The Blank Summer Institute for the Arts & Sciences (BSI) is a prestigious one-week residential summer program for 60 of Iowa’s most talented 8th-grade students, nominated by their schools. BSI provides exceptionally talented students with an intensive and advanced educational experience designed to enhance their intellectual and social growth. Each student selected for BSI will receive a $1000 Blank Scholarship to cover the majority of the Institute's costs.Learn more.

Junior Scholars Academy

On Campus

JSA is a summer commuter program designed specifically for bright elementary and middle school students who want to thoroughly explore a topic - all while having fun with other kids who share their enthusiasm for learning. Students from 2nd to 8th grade with a deep curiosity, a love of learning, or a lot of talent in a particular area will feel right at home in JSA. Classes run from 9am - 12pm every day for a full week - and these aren't just any regular classes! With past options like Harry Potter, STEAM, Mixed Media Art, Engineering, Virtual Reality, Programming (and more!), we're sure to have something for any curious kid. Learn more.

Workshop for Young Writers

Online

The Workshop for Young Writers is an amazing opportunity for students in grades 6-8 (current academic year) to learn and grow as writers. Explore new and familiar genres, strengthen your writing technique, and enjoy a community of young authors who will stretch you as a writer. This is an intensive class that will require substantial commitment over the five days. Learn more.

Perry Research Scholars Institute

On Campus

The Perry Research Scholars Institute (PRSI) is an academic summer program for students in grades 9-10. PRSI students spend their days with a backstage pass to cutting edge facilities and spaces at a major research institution. They'll hear from University of Iowa faculty researchers and their teams about how the research process works, the many different ways that research can look, and the ways they can pursue a research career. Learn more.

Secondary Student Training Program

On Campus & Online

The Secondary Student Training Program (SSTP) is a highly selective and intensive summer research program for students in grades 10-11. Students conduct research under the mentorship of world-class faculty from a research-intensive university. Through this program, students explore their interests, enhance their academic skills, and make meaningful friendships with intellectual peers. SSTP offers rare access to elite opportunities that help students realize their academic and professional goals.  Learn more.

Summer Writing Online

Online

Summer Writing Online (SWO) enables students in grades 9-12 to spend their summer learning from world-class faculty from the home of the famed Iowa Writers Workshop. Students spend three weeks participating in classes, workshops, lectures, and events that inspire and challenge them as writers. They spend that time with other high school writers from all over the world and cap off the summer with a closing and a digital showcase of their work. Learn more.