Elementary School Commuter Opportunities

Grades 3-6

The Junior Scholars Academy (JSA) is a summer commuter program designed specifically for bright elementary students who want to thoroughly explore a topic - all while having fun with other kids who share their enthusiasm for learning. Students 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.

About the Program

JSA takes place at the Blank Honors Center.

  • Session 1: June 17-21, 2024
  • Session 2: July 15-19, 2024

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!

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


Session 1


Grades 3-4

June 17 - June 21, 2024

Dip your toes into the wonderful world of science and engineering. Together we will discover how to build towers that withstand earthquakes. You'll be a chemical engineer by designing your very own oil-spill-cleaning operation. We will explore everything about trajectory by doing fun Mechanical engineering experiments. Medical and biological engineering will show us where to find bacteria and how to make them visible, why different liquids have different densities, and what all of that means for us. Are you ready for an amazing week of science?

Applications open soon

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Introduction to Advanced Mathematics

Grades 5-6

June 17 - June 21, 2024

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. 

Applications open soon

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Session 2

Greek Mythology

Grades 3-4

July 15 - July 19, 2024

Using George O’Connor’s Olympians, a series of graphic novels highlighting some of Greek Mythology’s best known figures, we will read and analyze the stories together. We will compare the graphic novels with other depictions and do some writing and drawing of our own.

Applications open soon

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Creative Writing

Grades 5-6

July 15 - July 19, 2024

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.

Applications open soon

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Mathematics of Games

Grades 5-6

July 15 - July 19, 2024

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! 

Applications open soon

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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.


Each class will have a grade range listed, students who are currently in those grades can apply to the class. 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?


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


Each student will pay a program fee of $480 per class. This fee covers tuition, books, and materials. Please note the fee for the program is not eligible for tax credits or other pre-tax reimbursements because it is an educational rather than child care program.

Payment Deadlines

You must either pay in full or have arranged monthly installments 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

  1. Pay the entire amount on a credit card.
  2. Pay in three equal monthly installments using a credit card.

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–4:00 pm.

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.

Cancellation Policy

If you must cancel, email summer@belinblank.org as soon as possible to decline the acceptance so that a student on the waiting list may attend.

  1. Cancellations that are processed at least four weeks before the class begins, we will refund program fees, less a $100 cancellation fee per class. 
  2. Cancellations that are processed less than four weeks before the class starts, we will refund half the cost of program fees.
  3. If a student misses class, regardless of reason, program fees will not be prorated and refunds will not be issued.

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