Two of our previous programs, Blast and the Junior Scholars Institute, have joined forces to create the Junior Scholars Academy (JSA)! 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 this program. 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 get to choose one class to focus on all day, for a full week - and these aren't just any regular classes! With past options like Harry Potter, STEAM, Mixed Media Art, Virtual Reality, Programming (and more!), we're sure to have something for any curious kid.

About the Program

JSA takes place at the Blank Honors Center in four sessions, with a different set of classes each week. Choose from among the four sessions, or join us for all of them!After considering guidelines for social distancing, whether families and staff would be able to safely travel and stay on campus, and the protection and wellbeing of minors on campus during a pandemic, we made the difficult decision to cancel JSA.

  • June 15-19, 2020 Canceled due to COVID-19
  • June 22-26, 2020 Canceled due to COVID-19
  • July 6-10, 2020 Canceled due to COVID-19
  • July 13-17, 2020 Canceled due to COVID-19

Students will spend their days at the Belin-Blank Center on the University of Iowa campus, learning all about one of their favorite subjects, in a class full of other bright kids their age who share their enthusiasm for learning. Each day will be filled with activities, opportunities to develop friendships, and excitement for learning! Early drop-off and late-stay options are available.

The JSA program is designed to challenge students in their areas of interest and strength. Students explore a single advanced level topic for the entire week. Class sizes are small, and they take place on the University of Iowa campus, giving your child access to valuable university resources and experts. Our instructors are vetted professionals, including classroom teachers, local artists, graduate students, and professors who have the expertise to delve into a subject at an advanced level, while keeping it accessible for the age group.

We encourage careful reading of the course descriptions when choosing classes. Specific questions about course content should be directed to summer@belinblank.org.

It was amazing and I learned so much. I also loved being surrounded by kids who all have the same passion for learning.

JSA Student

2020 Classes

Medical & Vet Academy

Grades 2-3

June 15 - June 19, 2020

Join us to learn about working with patients (both human and animals!). Students will learn about working as a team with other healthcare professionals. The Academy will give students the opportunity to learn about human and animal anatomy, and possible ways to help both if they become injured or ill. Be ready to learn how to keep your human and animal friends happy and healthy!

Graphic Novels: The Odyssey

Grades 4-5

June 15 - June 19, 2020

This course will allow students to dive deep into the graphic novel version of the epic poem, The Odyssey. Students will access Homer’s classic using a modern and engaging text allowing them to analyze themes, the hero’s journey, character development, and more. Students will have a chance to read about and create their own gods, goddesses, and other mythological creatures. This course will explore analytical reading, thinking, and creating all through the lens of the epic adventure!

 

Introduction to Advanced Mathematics

Grades 4-5

June 15 - June 19, 2020

This course is primarily designed around several famous mathematical ideas and the underlying mathematical principles that help to support student understanding. Examples include, but are not limited to: The Konigsberg Bridge Problem, Monty Hall’s Let’s Make a Deal Problem, the Probability of Winning the Powerball, Einstein’s Riddle, and the Binomial Theorem. Some of the specific topics covered include: Pascal’s Triangle, Sums of an Infinite Geometric Series, Probability of Independent Events, Logic, and Euler Paths.  

Mixed Media Art

Grades 4-5

June 15 - June 19, 2020

Have you ever wondered how to paint with wax or craft a stop motion animation movie? In mixed media art, students will explore a variety of art techniques. From drawing, painting, and bookmaking to stop motion animation and digital art creation. We will learn creative thinking tools that help us grow as artists and inventors. Learn how to think like an artist every day. And how to create like one too!

Project Discovery: Finding Your Writer's Voice

Grades 6-8

June 15 - June 19, 2020

Discover your inner writer while exploring a variety of creative writing formats. Anticipated activities also include adventures like a walking tour of historical sites around Iowa City, readings from adult creative writers, exploration of Writers' Workshop, and collaboration with professional and novice writers. Activities will center around stimulating the creative process, as well as practicing and honing your craft.  

Art

Grades 2-3

June 22 - June 26, 2020

Join us for a week of mixed media art-making. Projects will delve into Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, and Book Arts. We’ll take a couple of field trips at the University of Iowa to expand our learning about art and art-making. We’ll explore ways of combining different materials and methods to make really interesting and unique projects that will challenge your creative brain.

Chemistry

Grades 4-5

June 22 - June 26, 2020

In this class we will investigate lots of different types of reactions—what makes them go, how to modify them, why some reactions are similar and others are not. Be prepared to spend two weeks in lab so we can discover chemistry ourselves! Specifically, we will learn how to detect if a change is physical or chemical, perform tests that identify certain products of chemical reactions, and learn how to make lots of fizzing, foaming, popping, and color changing chemical reactions.   

Mathematics of Games

Grades 4-5

June 22 - June 26, 2020

Get ready for fun and friendly competition as we learn the mathematical strategy behind playing games! Many mathematical topics will be explored such as probability, statistics, number theory, pattern analysis, geometry, and algebra.  We will tackle the math behind games such as tic-tac-toe, Mastermind, Pachici (known in modern times as Parcheesi), Hearts, Risk, Settlers of Catan, Bridge and many, more.  Playing games will take on new meaning when fun and mathematical thought come together.  Please join us for this active, thought-provoking class!  

Mythology

Grades 4-5

June 22 - June 26, 2020

Are you intrigued by the lore of gods, demigods, and legendary heroes?  Whether you are a novice, or consider yourself an expert, join us for a week of learning centered around Greek mythology! You will be will be immersed in a variety of mythological literature, examine interconnected plot structures and stories, and explore the origin of Greek language in today’s words. Every style of learner will be engaged during our week-long adventure. We will use our writing skills to develop a mythological based piece of literature (conducting fictional interviews, narrative and/or perspective writing, comic book development, etc.), and incorporate a new spin on portrait drawings to bring out the artist in you! To culminate the week, you will use your creative thinking skills  to develop a board game, stop motion and/or green screen video, or self-directed project. Join us to grow your knowledge surrounding the history of Greek mythology!



Building a Climate Ready Future

Grades 6-8

June 22 - June 26, 2020

We are currently seeing the impacts of climate change at the local, state, regional, and global level. These impacts will include more dangerous heat conditions, more intense rainfall events and flooding, threats to clean water supplies, deteriorating built infrastructure, displacement of vulnerable populations, and has many other consequences. Students will be exposed to some of the grand engineering challenges we are facing in the 21st century and will explore solutions to these challenges. Topics will focus on environmental and sustainability impacts but will introduce a variety of subjects related to climate change issues. Classroom learning will be mobile and designed to expose the students to diverse career opportunities by engaging with experts to explore these topics.

World of Books

Grades 2-3

July 06 - July 10, 2020

This course is perfect for young readers who are interested in taking in lots of new information! Throughout the week, students will be immersed in quality text that will drive their curiosity wild. Groups will participate in discussions and inquiry activities that will improve reading comprehension, critical thinking and writing skills. Students will zero in on their listening and speaking skills as they interact with their teacher and peers. To join this group, one simply needs a love for literature and an inquisitive nature.

Astronaut Academy

Grades 4-5

July 06 - July 10, 2020

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be an astronaut? This week, we'll get into the details of space flight, engineering, science, and living in space with challenging and fun tasks, missions and classes! By the end, you'll know just what it takes to be to become an astronaut! Come join us, space cadets! 

 

Graphic Novels

Grades 4-5

July 06 - July 10, 2020

Do you love graphic novels? Want to dive deep into great adventure stories? Want or need to improve your writing? Join us in exploring one of the most innovative literary forms of recent years. In this course, students will learn how to merge art and literature by examining the techniques used by authors and artists in their fields. From tone and characterization to shading and perspective, we will analyze the strategies used to tell and illustrate graphic novels. In this writing-focused course, students will participate in a writer’s workshop developing, telling, and illustrating their very own stories using literary and digital tools. 

 

Logical Leaps

Grades 4-5

July 06 - July 10, 2020

There’s much more to math than arithmetic! Using games and puzzles, we will explore logical reasoning, proofs, induction, and deduction. Not all of our activities will include numbers, but each will be rich in mathematical reasoning that goes beyond computation. We'll even use ciphers, codes, and cryptography to test your puzzle cracking skill! Prepare your math brain for work in algebra, geometry, and other advanced mathematics by practicing the concepts and logical reasoning skills that lie at the center of great math thinking.

Physics: Fun with Forces

Grades 6-8

July 06 - July 10, 2020

Students will explore physics in everyday life by applying math, science, and engineering skills to design, test, and revise various projects throughout the week. Come join us for fun with forces!

 

Coder Academy

Grades 2-3

July 13 - July 17, 2020

Have you ever wanted to create an animation using your own cartoon characters or compose one of a kind music tunes using computer CODE? This course is a beginners guide to computer coding! Throughout the week, students will learn the basics about how computer coding is used in professions such as computer art, digital music and website design. Students will be using various technology devices but will also practice writing and following code with screenless tasks. Begin your journey as a future computer coder!

 

Amphibians and Reptiles

Grades 4-5

July 13 - July 17, 2020

Discover the field of Herpetology! Students will engage in hands-on investigation and inquiry related to the study of reptiles and amphibians. Upper-level biological concepts (e.g., ecology, anatomy, evolution, and conservation) will be explored through this field.

 


Archaeology in Iowa

Grades 4-5

July 13 - July 17, 2020

In this class, w will address what archaeology is all about and how archaeologists work. Then, we will examine what we know about different time periods in Iowa’s prehistoric past and how people lived. Activities include creating scale maps of mock excavations, interpreting a mockup of archaeological sites based on the relative relationships of the artifacts, examining animal bones (including reconstruction a deer skeleton), plant seeds, pottery, and stone tools to find out how they are identified and what they can teach about people’s lives. As we examine various artifact categories we will also experiment with their use. For example, grinding corn on stone metates, making jewelry with our own handmade cord and wood drilled with stone tools, throwing darts with atlatls, trying out traditional toys and games, sampling traditional foods. Field trips could be arranged for a visit to the OSA lab, the Native American exhibits at MacBride Hall, and a trip to Wickiup Hill Outdoor Learning Center where we can visit burial mounds and see exhibits of replica wickiups.

Writing

Grades 4-5

July 13 - July 17, 2020

TBD

Visual Mathematics

Grades 6-8

July 13 - July 17, 2020

In this course, students will experience math concepts in more visual forms. They will connect the things they see every day to the world of math as well as express their understanding of math concepts through art and pictures. Math can be challenging to visualize as concepts get more abstract. Skills learned in this course will help students to conceptualize abstract concepts and algebra through tangible pictures. Students will draw, construct and photograph. They will work individually, in groups and as a whole class. This class is well suited towards students looking for a hands-on approach to math. All artistic abilities welcome!

How to Apply

Ready to Apply? The application process is straightforward, but we recommend careful consideration of your child's academic strengths and interests when selecting a class. We're here to help with all the information you will need in order to complete the application.

Eligibility

Any student who is currently in 2nd-8th grades is eligible to apply for this program. They do not need to be in a talented and gifted program to apply. Qualified students will show a high level of interest in the topic, motivation to learn, and ability to positively contribute to a classroom environment.

Application Process

To apply online, parents and/or students answer two questions:

  • How does this student's performance compare to that of other well-qualified individuals in this content area?
  • What else should we know, if anything, about this student's academic profile?

Selection

Applications will be reviewed by a selection committee composed of Belin-Blank Center faculty and staff. Program acceptance is based on a review of the student’s strengths and interests. The selection committee works to ensure that the class is a good academic fit to nurture the student’s potential.

Selected students will be notified on a rolling basis no later than the end of May.

After You're Accepted

Get ready for lots of learning and tons of fun! Here you can find answers to all the questions you may have while making your plans to join us.

Cost & Financial Aid

Cost

Each student will pay a program fee of $495 per class. This fee covers tuition, books, materials, and a t-shirt. Please note the fee for the program is not eligible for tax credits or other pretax reimbursements because it is an educational rather than child care program.

Payment Deadlines

You must either pay in full or have arranged monthly installments or a payment plan (see Payment Options) by the first day of the program in order to participate in the program. All fees are payable to the Belin-Blank Center.

Payment Options

There are three options to pay program fees:

  1. Pay the entire amount on a credit card.
  2. Pay in three equal monthly installments using a credit card.
  3. Set up an individualized payment plan. Payment plans are available by contacting the Belin-Blank Center at 319-335-6148.

Financial Aid

If selected, you may apply for financial aid when you enroll your student in the program. Financial aid is awarded on a first-come-first-served basis, while funds are available. Eligibility is typically determined by qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch. After your information is reviewed, a decision will be made, and you will receive an email regarding the amount of your award. Awards will be applied directly to your program fee.

Daily Schedule

Classes will be held from 9:00 am - 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm, with a supervised lunch in between. Students should bring a sack lunch. A Closing Showcase will be held on Friday afternoon.

Students must attend the full length of the program. Teachers plan instructional activities based on the scheduled time. Student attendance and participation are essential to receive the full benefit of instruction.

Drop-off & Pick-up

Belin-Blank Center staff will provide supervision for students ten minutes before and after classes are held. Arrangements must be made to drop students off no earlier than ten minutes before class is scheduled to begin and to pick them up no later than 10 minutes after classes are released.

Extended-Stay Options

You may register your student for extended-stay options when enrolling in classes. The early drop-off program will be from 8:00 am - 9:00 am with a fee of $35 per week, and the late-stay program will be from 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm with a fee of $35 per week. Fees must be paid-in-full 3 weeks prior to the start of the student’s session.

  • Enrollment: Enrollment and payment for extended stay options are separate from enrollment and payment for regular programming. Your student is not enrolled in the extended-stay program until he/she is registered and payment is complete.
  • Location: Parents must bring students inside the Blank Honors Center for early drop-off and come inside to pick them up after 4:10 pm.
  • Prearranged drop-in option: With 24-hour notice, you may sign your student up to drop into the early drop-off or late pick-up program. The fee will be $20 per day for each prearranged extended-stay option. To schedule, email summer@belinblank.org.
  • Cancellation of Extended-Stay Registration: If cancellation occurs two or more weeks prior to the start of the program, a refund will be issued. However, if cancellation occurs within two weeks of the start of the program, no refund will be provided. If a student does not attend the extended-stay program, is dropped off late or picked up early, fees will not be prorated.

Late fees

If your student has not been picked up 10 minutes after class is released, he/she will join the students in the extended-stay program inside the Blank Honors Center. A $25 late pick-up fee will be charged to your student's account.

Cancellation Policy

All cancellations of a student's enrollment must be processed by Belin-Blank Center staff.

  1. If a cancellation occurs at least four weeks before the class begins, we will refund program fees, less a $100 cancellation fee per class.
  2. If a cancellation occurs less than four weeks before the class starts, we will refund half the cost of program fees.
  3. If a cancellation occurs within a week of the start date of the class, no refund is given to any cancellations, regardless of circumstance.
  4. If a student misses class, regardless of reason, program fees will not be prorated and refunds will not be issued.

What to Bring

Each day, students should bring a sack lunch, water bottle, and snack.

Handbooks

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