At the Center, teams of teachers and students will work together to develop a solution for the next Mars Mission.
Students will study the planets through high-powered telescopes, use professional astronomy software, interact with Lehigh faculty, and ponder the challenges of planetary exploration as part of the university’s Summer Enrichment Program for Gifted Children.
This year’s program, which begins July 9 and runs for two-and-a-half weeks, is adapted from curriculum materials provided by NASA for an annual competition.
"It will be a lot of fun for the students, and they’ll learn a lot about the subject matter, as well as about working as a team," says Revelly Paul, director of the summer program that has challenged extraordinarily creative, curious, and inventive students from all over the Lehigh Valley and beyond for more than two decades. "But the greatest joy will be the environment of creativity and fast-paced learning with other students who are just as excited as they are."
In past years, gifted students have cleaned up a simulated acid spill in Monocacy Creek, studied the spread of infectious diseases, and plumbed the earth to find clues to solve an archeological mystery. It’s a far cry from the summertime activities of most school children, but the attendees of Lehigh’s summer program for gifted students pride themselves on being different.
"Gifted children are unique and special," Paul says. "That’s why we like to provide these students with a productive summer outlet that strengthens and encourages their gifts, as well as provide tomorrow’s teachers with an opportunity to work with them."
Paul says that teachers in training from Lehigh’s College of Education work with the students along with Master Teachers who work with gifted children in nearby public schools. Most of these Master Teachers have also received their degrees from Lehigh and several served as interns themselves in the gifted program.
"I love teaching in this program because it offers me the opportunity to work with truly motivated students and develop a truly creative curriculum," says Mark Appleby, who interned in the program and served as a Master Teacher for nine years.
"It is amazing to watch the children take charge of their own learning," says Stephanie Laudenslager, another Master Teacher in the program. "It’s exactly what gifted teaching is all about, but it is an odd feeling for a teacher when it happens and all of the sudden you no longer feel needed. It’s like watching your children go off to college."
This year’s session is expected to attract between 80 and 100 students from as far away as Clinton, N.J., Bucks and Berks counties, and the Poconos.
For more information, please call Lehigh’s Office of Summer Studies at (610) 758-3966, or visit the website at www.lehigh.edu/~ingifted/ingifted.html
To learn more about gifted children, visit the website for the Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education at www.penngifted.org