SIG eNewsletter: The Gifted Student

January 2015

Sponsored by the Torrance Center for Creativity & Talent Development

In this issue:

SIG is a program of NSGT, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization

From the President's Desk

A letter from Barbara Swicord, President of SIG:

Today is the first day of the rest of your life! Don’t you love that saying – every day becomes a fresh start! This thought helps us to live in the present and not focus on the past, which is a good thing. How appropriate for January too. We typically think of each New Year as a chance to start over, make new resolutions, and improve ourselves in some way.

It can also be a time of year when gifted youth are particularly hard on themselves. There is often constant pressure to be excellent, smart, dependable, conscientious, and whatever other adjective seems to fit, coupled with one’s own personally demanding conscience. Then the world adds on this additional yearly task to resolve to make ourselves even better. Whew! That’s a lot of pressure for a young person who is already struggling to handle everyday self-, peer-, and family-imposed pressures. It’s even hard for us adults to row through our seas of competition and high pressure!

Here’s a productive and also useful activity to do with your gifted child or student, or even with yourself, to reassure them they are quite wonderful and to jump start them thinking about what they might do with their adult lives. Quite often, gifted young people are so talented at so many things that it is difficult, sometimes even heart-wrenching, to have to decide which talent, field, or interest to pursue. These students are interested in and capable of being innovators in many areas, but high levels of excellence require focus, dedication, and endless hours of research or practice or thought, depending on the nature of one’s chosen field. So, choose they must.

Since no one knows what the future will hold for our students of today, it’s hard to know how to navigate with them toward making a decision about future courses of action. There also will be careers and jobs that don’t even exist yet. But what we can do is help students have a sense of what kinds of pursuits feel like a good match for their interests, skills, and passions. For example, it is probably better to think of oneself as entrepreneurial than as a retailer of a certain product that exists now that may not exist in the future. Think Twinkies. It is better to think of oneself as an innovator than someone who will automatically rise up the corporate ladder over time. The world of work is changing.

So take a few minutes to tell that gifted student three or four of her or his best characteristics or assets that might help that person focus on what he or she does really well. It can be hard for us to see our strengths, especially if we are self-critical. Some examples that might be helpful in thinking about this task include the ability to anticipate what other people need, to speak to strangers with confidence and empathy, to figure out what is missing in a problem, or to substitute materials or steps when the obvious is not possible. Knowing that we possess such skills then helps us to make the connection between what kinds of contributions we are best suited to make in this world, whether those contributions are in business, education, technology, philosophy, the arts, or any of many yet undeveloped and undiscovered areas of human pursuit.

Have two to three other people do that activity with the student as well. Pay special attention to assets that are noticed universally by others. Repetition may point to the contributions that one should pursue in the development and transference of these assets into future careers and interests. We hope that this activity will reassure young people that they have unique, amazing talents already and that they should resolve to capitalize on what is already being nurtured within. This would be a win for now and a wind for future sailing across the oceans of possibilities.

Barbara Swicord
President, Summer Institute for the Gifted

SIG Student Wins National Invention Competition: “I Hope My Invention Will Save Lives”

Eight-year-old Mark came up with his idea of a "self-disinfecting hazmat suit" for healthcare workers while watching Ebola coverage on television. He wanted to help doctors and nurses treating Ebola patients to be better protected from contracting the disease themselves. The online courses that he took from SIG were very helpful to him, especially the last Biology class. His invention won a national invention competition, "Student Ideas for a Better America," and was featured on News 12 New Jersey and in the Bergen Record.

The suit uses widely available and inexpensive materials in its design. Mark believes that making lots of suits will not cost a lot of money. His new hazmat suit has three layers:

  • The outside layer has many small openings to let the solution outside the suit.
  • The middle layer has many pockets filled with disinfecting solution or lentil-shaped beads containing this solution. Behind these pockets there are air pockets that can be inflated by a healthcare worker using a rubber bulb.
  • The third inside layer protects the healthcare worker – nothing can get through.

After putting on the suit, the healthcare worker squeezes the bulb one time or several times, for example every 15 to 20 minutes. Squeezing the bulb pushes the disinfecting solution through the tiny openings of the outside layer to cover the suit. When the Ebola virus gets onto the suit, it is killed by the solution. At the end of treating Ebola patients, the healthcare worker must squeeze the bulb once again to make sure all the Ebola virus is covered with the solution. Then the hazmat suit is no longer dangerous to touch -it can now be safely removed and thrown out.

Read a news article about Mark online, and watch a video of his invention

Kevin's Korner

Welcome to 2015, everyone! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and are looking forward as eagerly as I am to all the great things the new year will have to offer. With this new year comes new and exciting SIG programs!

Here at SIG, we are busy refining new courses, updating our traditional ones, and finalizing arrangements for each of the programs we will be offering this summer. We are also busy fine tuning our SIG Online program and preparing for the upcoming spring session beginning February 11th. We are particularly happy to be launching brand new summer programs at the University of Miami (offering both residential and day programs) in Coral Gables, Florida, and The Weiss School (a day program) in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida; we are also enthusiastic about our increased emphasis on STEM and creativity, which you will clearly notice in our SIG Online and campus-based 2015 course offerings.

I am particularly pleased with the selection of new courses we have created for 2015. We have 17 new courses! We have worked hard to develop courses that reflect the needs of our gifted youth in this evolving world, rife with upcoming opportunities and challenges that we can only imagine. In addition to our traditionally popular courses, you will notice in our new offerings an emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education, fostering creativity, and taking an active role in shaping the future.

From our DNA Diagnostics course's investigation of genomics and various facets of genetic engineering in the worlds of medicine, agriculture, and nutrition to Synaptic Plasticity's journey into neuroscience and the inner workings of the brain, to our application of mathematics to explore biological systems in Biomechanics of Living Systems, we are thrilled to open our classroom doors and prepare our students to thrive in these new, engaging STEM-based areas of inquiry.

As I’m sure many of you know, STEM education holds great promise as a field of study for gifted students, as it integrates the traditional, crucial disciplines of mathematics and science with creative, “real world” elements of technology and engineering that can bring such learning to life. With an emphasis on the connected nature of these concepts, students often find that they are better able to organize STEM-based learning, and retrieve it when necessary, as the mind better retains concepts connected to several areas of knowledge as opposed to those learned in isolation from other disciplines. With the ever-expanding role of technology and unlimited potential of scientific discovery in our world creating new industries and careers, immersing our gifted students in STEM education is a solid strategy for pursuing global well-being as well as personal fulfillment.

In the vital areas of creativity and preparing for a promising yet uncertain future, we are also very excited about our innovative Working the Future course, founded upon the question, “how do we prepare students to excel in a future career that may not exist yet?” While we cannot accurately predict what our future world will be like, we can teach ourselves to solve complex problems that can occur in any situation, as well as look at emerging economic and consumer trends to guide such predictions, and that is what this course aims to do. Though our unique, personalized curriculum, and a host of authentic learning tasks, we will engage students in activities that will help them grow as self-directed learners and develop problem-solving skills that will help bring them the power to learn well what they need to know in any emerging future field.

Concerning our humanities and language arts offerings, our new Writing the Future course will help students develop informed forecasts about the future through research, guided practice in writing about future scenarios, and collaborative envisioning, to theorize how best to prepare for, and thrive, within them. Our Creative Connections course, also a brand new offering, will emphasize the value of creativity in our continuously changing world, demystifying creativity by offering tools and guidelines that can help develop creative capabilities. Additionally, students will explore the lives and work of exceedingly creative individuals, including the various facets of their lives that led to their innovative efforts.

We are confident that you will find our new course offerings to be diverse and tailored well to the interests and needs to your gifted children, and we can’t wait to share them with you a few short months from now!


On a different, but related note, of course the new year also means the school year is at about the halfway point, and it is a good time to reflect upon what lessons may have been learned and those yet to be learned. For gifted students, winter vacation may have provided new opportunities to discover areas of interest, or to apply knowledge about them with the family during vacation activities. Of course the winter weather has most of us also thinking about how we will spend our time as the weather grows warmer, and we sincerely hope you are planning to take part in our programs this summer.

As with those of all ages and all walks of life, resolutions can be very helpful for gifted students to help them get a fresh start in their academic and other school-based pursuits. A few for students to consider (and keep) are:

  1. Resolve that this is a brand new, fresh school year, with any type of trouble, grudge, assignment not completed as well as it might have been, or misunderstanding that might have occurred during the culminating year in the rearview mirror. Approach the new year open to new friends and new experiences and you can bring a refreshing new perspective to your school experience.

  2. Take part in extracurricular activities. This will not only help open up new academic worlds to you, but also help you meet new friends while developing new interests. Sometimes, it can be difficult to make your voice and true interests heard and understood in classes with lots of other students, but in extracurricular clubs, which often have a fewer number of students, you can really dive into exploring, and discussing, those things that inspire you.

  3. Meet with your academic counselor to help plan your future. I'm sure many of you in high school, or those who are parents of high school students, have done this, but it is important to keep track of shifting interests and how the universities and colleges you should target might change as a result. Often the most obvious or well-known choice is not the best personal choice, and college academic counselors are in a great position to know what might work best for you, and how to get there.

Whatever resolutions you wish to keep, make sure to reflect upon the events of the recently-culminated year and to apply any sort of wisdom gained in 2015. Happy New Year!

Kevin Wickersham
Academic Director
Summer Institute for the Gifted

Campus Spotlight: Yale University

Yale University, a private research university in New Haven, Connecticut, is a member of the Ivy League. Yale has produced many notable alumni, including five U.S. presidents, seventeen U.S. Supreme Court Justices, and several foreign heads of state. Yale's buildings, towers, lawns, courtyards, walkways, gates, and arches comprise what one architecture critic has called the most beautiful urban campus in America.

Learn more about SIG at Yale

Fun Facts!

  • Yale is ranked 3rd among national universities by U.S. News and World Reports for 2014.
  • Founded in 1701, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States.
  • SIG has been on campus since 2011!

SIG offers many options for students who wish to attend this program:

  • Residential Program for students ages 13-17
    Students choosing this option will participate in the full curriculum of SIG including the 4-period academic day, evening programs, Saturday Get-Away Day and Weekend Activity Day. Students live on campus in dormitories.

  • Day Commuter Program for students ages 13-17 (8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.)
    Commuter students participate in the full 4-period academic day, lunch and recreation period. They do not participate in any weekend or evening activities. Commuter students must be dropped off at 8:30 a.m. and picked up at 5:30 p.m.

  • Extended Commuter Program for students ages 13-17 (8:30 a.m. - 9:15 p.m.)
    Extended commuter students will participate in the full 4-period academic day, lunch, recreation period, dinner and all evening activities, as well as the Saturday Get-Away Day trip. Extended commuters do not reside on campus or take part in Sunday activities.

Please call 866.303.4744 today for more information or visit our website.

Design the SIG Summer 2015 T-Shirt Contest!

Be creative! SIG is looking for creative t-shirt designs that reflect the spirit of SIG summer camps. If we use your design, you’ll receive a t-shirt for you and two of your friends with YOUR design on it. Plus, you will win a set of Beats Headphones. We can’t wait to see your submissions!

Submit your designs to Kristin Bernor at Deadline for entry is February 15, 2015.

Screenprinting Guidelines:

Helpful pointers when designing a t-shirt

The screenprinting process is characterized by ink being pushed through the stencil that is your design. This means that things like blur, transparency, and gradients won't work in the same way on t-shirts as they appear on a screen. The only way to approximate those kinds of effects is to use halftones. However, halftones can be difficult to use and should be used with caution or avoided if at all possible.

Ideally, the design should be created in Adobe Illustrator using vectors; however, it can also be created in Adobe PhotoShop.

If the design is created in PhotoShop, please follow the guidelines listed below:

  • Be sure that your file is set up at 300 dpi before you start working (it won’t print well if the design is created at 72 dpi and then resampled to 300 dpi at the end).
  • Don’t flatten your layers or rasterize your type.
  • Don’t use blurs or gradients. These will not reproduce well during the screenprinting process.

Failure to follow the guidelines listed above may result in an unprintable design.

Register for the Spring Online Program Today – Deadline is January 28th!

Experience a SIG Program from home with the SIG Online Learning Program!

Dates: February 11 – April 7, 2015
Deadline to enroll: January 28, 2015

Cost: $425.00 plus $25 application fee
Returning ONLINE STUDENT discount – $25 off

SIG Online is an exciting eight-week online enrichment program for gifted and talented students. These courses offer students curriculum beyond what is offered during the school day, are wide-ranging in potential interest areas for individualized learning, and engage students in hands-on learning while applying school content through speaking, writing, researching, analyzing, reasoning, and questioning.

Courses (see course descriptions)

  • What’s the Chance? (Ages 7-8)
  • Be a Pet Vet (Ages 7-8)
  • Forces of Nature(Ages 7-8)
  • Energy Ideas Everywhere (Ages 9-10)
  • Diving into the Gene Pool (Ages 9-10)
  • Down With Disease (Ages 11-12)
  • The Proof is in the Logic (Ages 11-12)
  • Graphic Arts (Ages 9-12)

Learn more about the SIG Spring Online Learning Program

Puzzle Corner

Two cars set off from the same point and travel the same route. The first car has a start of nine minutes before the second car sets off. If the first car travels at 55 km/h and the second car travels at 60 km/h, how many kilometers from the starting point will they draw level?

Submit your answer online at The first student who submits the correct answer will receive recognition in the next issue of The Gifted Student!


Last Month's Puzzle

What number should appear next in this sequence?

2304   288   48   12   ?

A: 6. The numbers are divided by 8, then 6, then 4, then 2.

Congratulations to Tyler from Bradenton, FL, for being the first to respond with the correct answer to last month's puzzle!

Upcoming Conferences & Events


Meet SIG’s President Dr. Barbara Swicord at SIG’s Parent Q and A
January 22, 2015, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Georgia Tech Research Institute
Smyrna, GA
Contact to RSVP by January 19.
TAGT Parent Conference/Summer Program Expo
January 24, 2015
Klein ISD Multipurpose Center, Houston, Texas
The Torrance Center is joining with A Splendid Idea to offer 6 one-day conferences between now and May entitled GPS (Gifted Parental Support). Dr. Barbara Swicord, President of SIG, will be presenting two workshops for parents.
January 24, 2015
UGA Campus, Athens, GA
Montgomery County Camp & Summer Fun Expo
January 25, 2015
Hilton Hotel & Executive Meeting Center, Rockville, MD


Phillips Academy Summer Opportunities Fair
February, 1, 2015
Phillips Academy Campus, Andover, MA
PDE Annual Conference
February 4 - 6, 2015
"Making a Difference: Educational Practices That Work!," Sessions on gifted students includes, parent scholarships for parents of students with IEPs available
Hershey Lodge and Convention Center, Hershey, Pennsylvania
Arizona Association of Gifted & Talented (AAGT) Conference
February 5 - 6, 2015
"Advancing Gifted Education”
Black Canyon Conference Center, Phoenix, Arizona
Institute for the Development of Gifted Education (IDGE)
February 6, 2015
"Weaving Together Innovative Thinking and Design: The Future of Differentiation"
Denver University, Denver, Colorado
Focusing on the Future: A Career and Academic Planning Experience
February 7, 2015
William & Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia
Illinois Association for Gifted Children (IAGC)
February 8 - 10, 2015
"CCSS, STEM, technology and/or 21st Century Skills"
Chicago Marriott Naperville, Naperville, Illinois
Minnesota Educators of the Gifted and Talented (MEGT)
February 8 - 10, 2015
Cragun's Resort and Conference Center, Brainerd, Minnesota
Gifted Boys Conference
February 13, 2015
(7th-grade boys only), Keynote: Michael McLendon
Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas
Atlanta Parent Camp Expo
February 21, 2015
Town Center Mall, Kennesaw, GA
TAGT Parent Conference/Summer Program Expo
February 21, 2015
Walsh Middle School, Round Rock ISD, Round Rock, Texas
Kentucky Association for Gifted Education (KAGE) Annual Conference
February 23 - 24, 2015
"Toward Excellence and Beyond Proficiency - Gifted Education in Kentucky," Speakers: Thomas Hébert, Linda Sheffield, Julia Roberts, Jan Lanham, Tracy Inman, Leah Ellis
Hyatt Regency, Lexington, Kentucky
Arkansas Association for Gifted and Talented (AGATE)
February 25 - 27, 2015
Keynotes: Felice Kaufman;
Little Rock Marriott, Little Rock, Arkansas
Nebraska Association for the Gifted (NAG)
February 26 - 27, 2015
"Beyond Motivation - Igniting the Passion For Learning," Keynotes: Jann Leppien and Del Siegle
Omaha, Nebraska
Vanderbilt Gifted Education Institute
February 26 - 27, 2015
"Developing, Implementing and Differentiating Curriculum for Gifted Learners"
Nashville, Tennessee
California Association for the Gifted Conference (CAG)
February 27 - March 1, 2015
Dr. Barbara Swicord, President of SIG, will be presenting at the conference.
"Cut to the Core: Past, Present, and Future Trends in Recognizing and Responding to All Students," Keynotes: Richard Cash and Kathy Jones,
Palm Springs Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center, Palm Springs, California

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