Summer Institute for the Gifted

Summer Institute for the Gifted

Programs for gifted and talented youth ages 5-17

Fairfield University Day Courses

B01Period - 1New 2019!Comedy Writers Club

What's funny to you? Where can you find humor? How can humor be helpful? In this class, you'll examine jokes, limericks, skits, comics, stories, and characters to determine why people find them amusing, and then apply those concepts to your own humorous creations. You will practice your writing and presentation skills as you write and deliver your most clever and humorous thoughts to an audience. This course will allow you to engage your funny bone, be part of a comedic writing team, and perform in your own SIG Comedy Club!

B02Period - 1, 4Chemicals in Action = Chemical Reaction

Did you know the first type of soap was created through a chemical process using animal fat and ashes (known as lye)? How can something so messy make you cleaner? The answer lies in how soap interacts with oil-based grease or grime! The way materials interact is all about chemistry. Chemistry helps us explain things that happen in nature. Chemists are scientists who use all five senses to explore and explain life. Experiment with water, acids, bases, and everyday household items to discover the chemical world in which you live. Participate in experiments to learn more about chemical reactions.

B03Period - 1, 2Numbers: Puzzles, Patterns, and Problem-Solving

Do you like to play with numbers and do math? Come use number games and puzzles to learn about mathematical operations and determine how you can use these operations in your everyday lives. You'll discover different number bases, origins of number systems, and ways to communicate secretly through codes. Find out what fascinates you about math and create new puzzles and number games of your own. Think like a mathematician and use logical reasoning, patterns, and problem-solving skills to master number sense.

B04Period - 2New 2019!Sound Sensations

Can you see sound? How does sound travel and what kinds of things can it travel through? How do animals use sound to move around? Discover answers to these questions and others you have about the science of sound waves. Learn about pitch, volume, and frequency. Observe sound through your eyes, bodies, and ears. Make noise; make music; do experiments; make instruments! Find out what happens when sound becomes harmful noise pollution and create a way to reduce noise pollution in your neighborhood with your newly gained knowledge about the physics of sound.

B05Period - 3New 2019!Oceans of Answers

Ocean scientists sometimes need to make long-term observations of marine plant and animal life to answer their scientific questions. Living underwater provides time and opportunity for such study, but living underwater is not easy to do. As you consider ways scientists could live underwater, you'll need to learn about the basic needs for human life support in such an environment. After examining designs of other marine habitats, doing experiments, and participating in problem-solving activities, you will design a research habitat where ocean scientists could do their important work. Talk about an ocean view!

B06Period - 4New 2019!Toy BizWhiz

What do you think the next big toy will be? How would you like to be the one to create it?  In 2016, the total revenue of the world toy market was 88.8 billion U.S. dollars! Toys play an important role in children's physical, mental, social, and emotional development. In this fun class, you will research current successful toys, analyze their appeal, design your own toy for a specific audience, and then set up a business to sell and market it. Who better to design the next big toy than the people who play with them!

P07Period - 1New 2019!Be a Graphic NovelistFull, closed to further enrollment

A graphic novel uses cartoon drawings to help tell a story. Like comic books, graphic novels weave entertaining drawings with a small amount of words to tell a story. The stories could be about fantasy, science fiction, history, fairy tales and myths, or even true stories about science or biographies. In this class you'll be introduced to character building, plot, and setting as you look at various graphic novels. Come strengthen your vocabulary; build your reading confidence; have fun drawing your action pictures and increase your appreciation of storytelling by creating your own graphic novel.

P11Period - 2Sleuthing Like Sherlock: Logic and Facts!

Detectives carefully gather and trace evidence to draw conclusions. Learn how to reason like a detective, gather clues and details, and unlock mysteries. Conduct experiments using detection techniques, such as ink chromatology, finger-print analysis, and use eye-witness interrogation techniques to sharpen your sleuthing skills. Solve "Who Done it?" scenarios in classroom cases to practice and enhance your logical ability to solve mysteries.

P09Period - 1New 2019!Mini-Golf Course Design: What's Your Angle?Full, closed to further enrollment

We already know math is fun and, of course, miniature golf is also fun. Put them together and double the fun in this course. You will learn about geometry by designing your own mini-golf course! You'll learn about angles, such as acute, obtuse, and right angles. You'll also learn about lines, degrees, and two-dimensional shapes, such as polygons and quadrilaterals. Come design your part of a mini-golf course that uses your newly acquired knowledge of geometry to challenge your classmates, engage your mind, and have fun, all at the same time.

P10Period - 4Deconstructing Base Systems: Caves to ComputersFull, closed to further enrollment

Have you wondered why digits represent different values by just changing their positions? Discover how the use of patterns, grouping, and symbols make our place-value system function. Explore the Egyptian numeration system to understand the use of zero and gain an appreciation for our base-ten system. Use clues from the Moli Stone to understand the principles of the Hindu-Arabic number system. If you "dig" numbers, you'll enjoy creating your own numeration system that applies your knowledge of the place-value system, patterns, groupings, and symbols.

P12Period - 1Electricity and Magnetism: A Powerful Pair Full, closed to further enrollment

Are you curious about electricity and how it powers our world? Do you wonder where the force of a magnet comes from and how strong it can be in our universe? Here you will explore how the worlds of electricity and magnetism collide to help us perform daily activities. Plug into the world of electromagnetism, a type of physical interaction that occurs between electrically charged particles. Why is an electromagnetic force created when you rub a balloon on your hair? Learn about this force and much more as your curiosity is PULLED toward experiments and activities surrounding electricity and magnetism that CHARGE up our lives. (Technology Fee: $50-Includes a kit.) Student must enroll in this course by April 1, 2019.

P14Period - 4New 2019!Funky Fungi

Do you like to eat mushrooms? How about yeast bread? If so, did you know you were eating fungi?  Not exactly a plant or an animal, fungi are important living organisms that have a classification all on their own. In this class, you'll learn how fungi grow and feed, and explore the many roles fungi play in our soil, in our kitchens, in our bodies, and even in industry. Fungi provide us with penicillin and other antibiotics, mushrooms and other foods, methods of pest control, and are ideal organisms for scientific research. Today, entrepreneurs are also finding creative ways to use fungi, such as producing sustainable packaging to reduce the need for Styrofoam™, and making biodegradable building materials. Come do your own fungi experiments and consider future uses for this fascinating kingdom of organisms. Find out if the fascinating world of mycology (the study of fungi) excites you. Get into the fungus among us!

P08Period - 3Eureka! Inventive Minds at Work!Full, closed to further enrollment

What would life be like if Ben Franklin hadn't harnessed electricity using his famous kite and key experiment? How would your daily life change if the wheel had never been invented? In this course, we will look at how inventions have shaped history. We will also investigate the inventing process - many famous inventors were scientists, but some were also hobbyists who had a great idea and went on to become inventors. You'll have a chance to put the invention process to work by creating your own original invention!

P13Period - 2New 2019!From Superheroes to SuperhumansFull, closed to further enrollment

Superheroes continue to be a popular source of entertainment for people of all ages. But, did you know that technology is now making it possible for humans to enhance their bodies in their quest to have superhuman abilities? For example, battery-powered jet packs can help you run like The Flash, and handheld paddles can allow people to climb walls like Spider-Man. Come learn about additional technologies that are being researched and produced to help humans do things they could never do in the past. Develop your own superhero power and design a technological enhancement to increase your power to help you face challenges in your life.

E15Period - 1Speaking of Winning…What's Your Point?Full, closed to further enrollment

Are you tired of losing arguments? What can help you win an argument? Come improve your communication, argumentation, and reasoning skills by engaging in debate and public speaking simulations in topics of interest and controversy. Build your confidence as you communicate, model leadership, and address peer groups. Learn the basics of crafting an argument, preparing a speech, and debating an opponent to communicate your message within a public forum.

E16Period - 2New 2019!Be Wise—Philosophize!

What makes an action right or wrong? What is more important, to be happy or to do the right thing? What does it mean to be human? If you ever think about big questions like these, you might be a budding philosopher. Philosophy is the study of knowledge, how we think, what we value, and how we are. That's a lot to think about! In this class you will engage in observing, considering, and discussing the world around you. Come pose your own big questions, increase your reasoning and logic skills, and gain an understanding of some of the great philosophical thinkers who have shaped our society and our world.

E17Period - 1New 2019!Creative Math Problem Solving StrategiesFull, closed to further enrollment

Do you know what's more important than finding the correct answer to a math problem? It's identifying the strategy that helped you solve the math problem! Develop your math problem solving ability by using mathematical reasoning strategies, creativity, and originality to arrive at clever solutions.  Critique the limitations of math problem solving strategies, while inventing new ones. Investigate logic problems, games, and math puzzles to stretch and challenge your math expertise. Unleash the math whiz within you!

E18Period - 2New 2019!Getting the Pulse on CardiologyFull, closed to further enrollment

Did you know that the heart beats more than 2 billion times over an average lifetime to circulate blood throughout your body? What an amazing muscle! Come learn about the anatomy of the heart and how structures such as values, ventricles, arteries, veins, and blood vessels support the body's hardest-working organ. Investigate the flow of blood through the heart and explore solutions for heart disease. What factors can strengthen the health of your heart? Get a pulse on the inner workings of the heart and get involved in a heart concern that matters to you.

E19Period - 3New 2019!Ocean Crisis: Let's Clean Up Our Act!

Marine scientists estimate that over 5 trillion pieces of plastic currently litter the oceans due to humans dumping 8 million tons of plastic into the sea each year. That's 52 times the estimated number of stars in the Milky Way! Those whirlpools of junk, while killing off millions of ocean creatures, could soon cover half the planet's surface. Plastics give off chemicals that have negative effects on our health. Plastic-infected fish end on our dinner plates. What's to be done? Solutions include overhauling waste systems to keep plastics out of the seas, dredging plastic junk out of rivers and oceans, and no longer producing plastics, along with other innovative solutions. Cleaning up our oceans is a critical and highly complex problem. Come research the issues and current cleanup efforts and propose your own solutions.

E20Period - 3Code, Create, and Animate: Game Design 101

Have you ever wondered how the computer games you play are created? Learn the basics of computer programming for games through online applications designed to help students explore and create a computer game of their own. Learn to solve coding puzzles and use critical thinking skills to solve new challenges and missions using Scratch™. Put your imagination to work while creating a one-of-a-kind web game to share with your friends and family! (Scratch™ is developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab.) must bring a laptop and have access to an email account to participate in this course. Minimum laptop requirements:(1) A Windows 7 or later, ChromeOS, Mac OS Yosemite 10.10 or later, or Linux computer; (2) a version of Adobe Flash Player released on or after June 15, 2016; (3) a relatively recent web browser: one of the latest two versions of Chrome (Windows, ChromeOS, Mac or Linux), Firefox (Windows or Mac only), Safari (Mac only), Edge (Windows only), or Internet Explorer 11 (Windows only). If your computer doesn’t meet these requirements, you can try downloading and installing Scratch 1.4, which you can still use to share projects to the Scratch 2.0 website. For more information, please email Admissions at

E21Period - 4Civil Engineering: Infrastructures That AmazeFull, closed to further enrollment

Civil engineering is everywhere—in our roads, in our water, and in our buildings, to name just a few places. Civil engineers help to create a safe environment as they design, construct, and maintain our built environment. Come try your hand at projects related to building structures like roads, bridges, canals, dams, and buildings. Find out what it takes to make buildings and houses safe from disasters, like hurricanes and earthquakes. Use principles of physics and mathematical skills to understand concepts such as force, arches, compression, loads, water pressure, suspension, and truss to engage in experimental building activities. Consider whether being a civil engineer is in your future.

E22Period - 4Astronomy: The Sky's the Limit!Full, closed to further enrollment

Do you ever look up at the sky and wonder about all the celestial bodies you can see as well as those you can't see? If so, you are like millions of people since the beginning of time who have gazed into the sky seeking answers to questions like, "How do astronomers map and find planets and stars that are light years away from Earth?" or, "How do the moon, the sun, and the stars help us tell time?" If you'd like to travel to the far corners of the universe while your feet are still on the ground, this course is for you. Come expand your knowledge about related topics of interest, from astrophysics and auroras to zeniths and zodiacs. Let the skies be your guide!

J23Period - 1New 2019!Youth and the Law

Are you looking forward to getting your driver's permit? Your first car? How about your first job? You'll be fascinated to learn the many ways the law influences these important events as well as almost everything you do. What does the law say about what we and others see and do on the Internet? How about what kinds of things we buy, eat, watch on television, where we live, and what happens at school? Debate and critique these laws, generate probing questions, and analyze what current and future opportunities exist for those interested in legal matters. Come internalize what the law means for you and others!

J24Period - 2New 2019!Executive Functioning: Tools for Success

Do you ever have trouble paying attention, holding several pieces of information in your mind at once, or getting tasks completed? If so, you might need practice in developing your executive functioning skills. These skills help you focus, tune out irrelevant stimuli, hold information in your working memory, filter distractions to control your impulses, and help you to adapt to changing circumstances. Adolescence is a critical period for developing executive functioning skills like planning, time management, and organization. This class will engage you in fun ways to develop these skills, such as playing complex games that require you to hold information in your short-term memory, engaging in sports and activities that require quick decisions and attention to rules, using the arts for two-handed coordination, self-monitoring, and using brain and mind games that also challenge your working memory and cognitive flexibility. Find and develop the executive functioning tools that work best for you in helping you achieve your future goals.

J25Period - 4New 2019!The Youthful Face of Power

We are living in a changing world with uncertain futures where the only thing you can control is yourself. Have you thought about how you want to thrive in the world? Do you have the abilities you need to create the changes you want to see? In this class, you will examine how you can develop and use your personal power to make a difference. Build your strengths, confidence, and competence. Analyze examples of power that you see around you and plan how you will develop your own powerful personality. Research youth-led movements that are becoming increasingly influential in getting their messages heard. Young people can do a lot to change the world, sometimes in such simple actions as practicing sustainable habits, raising money for a cause, writing letters to public officials calling for action, or just by being kind. Come think about a cause or a concern that you would like to affect and practice ways to be the change you hope to see in your future.

J26Period - 1Algebra: Finding the X FactorFull, closed to further enrollment

Have you ever had to adjust a cooking recipe to accommodate more guests than what the recipe was written for? When you proportionally changed the ingredients to match the servings, you were using algebra! Algebra is everywhere and used all around us. It's the foundational branch of math that explores fundamental mathematical concepts used in advanced level mathematics. Come reason with equations and inequalities, model and graph linear functions, and solve systems using polynomials and quadratic functions. Investigate real-world applications and apply your mathematical expertise to real-world problems. Prerequisite: Pre-Algebra; Student will need a standard calculator for the course (calculator feature on a mobile device is sufficient).

J27Period - 2Chemistry: The Essential ElementFull, closed to further enrollment

Welcome to the laboratory that is the world in which you live. Experiment with domestic chemicals, environmental materials, foods, and living organisms to discover the chemical nature of substances, their properties, reactions, and uses in daily life. Engage in a series of experiments to test your hypotheses about the reaction of substances. Investigate chemical solutions to everyday challenges and unleash the chemist in you!

J28Period - 3New 2019!From Galileo to Stephen Hawking: Cosmology Reframed!

Did you know that it would take us longer than we have existed as beings to reach the center of our own galaxy? How can that be! Come investigate for yourself and gain an understanding of the theories concerning the origins of the universe and try your hand at answering some of science's most complex questions. How did our universe come to be what it is today? Could the universe as we know it exist without the concepts of space and time? How credible is the Big Bang theory? Come debate, discuss, and hypothesize your own questions about the cosmos, and expand your mind about the expanding universe!

J29Period - 2New 2019!3, 2, 1…Blast Off Into Rocketry!Full, closed to further enrollment

Did you know that rockets are the oldest type of engines? They were originally invented by the Chinese around year 1200. Come learn about the scientific principles of aerodynamics, center of gravity, point of balance, apogee, drag, and thrust and apply them to rocket launch experiments using household chemicals. Use geometry and math problem solving strategies to calculate altitude and speed and build a parachute recovery system for your model rocket kit launches. Take your rocketry expertise to new heights as you use rocket engineering principles to propose solutions for the future of space exploration and aeronautical technology. (Material Fee: $50-Includes rocket kit.) Student will need a standard calculator (calculator feature on a mobile device is sufficient) and a laptop to participate in this course. Minimum laptop requirements:(1) a Windows 7 or later or Mac OS Yosemite 10.10; Chromebook or tablet computers are compatible. For more information, please email Admissions at Student must enroll by April 1, 2019.

J30Period - 3Engineering in Action

Ever wonder how chemical, mechanical, electrical, and civil engineers solve real world problems? Come learn basic engineering principles surrounding the stability of structures, buoyancy, heat phenomena, and electricity. Perhaps you will use your interest in scientific and mathematical principles to design towns, factories, toys, and other products that will enhance your life in the future, or maybe you will pursue one of the many great career opportunities that abound in engineering!

J31Period - 4Calculate Your Win: Competitive Number Sense

Do you easily calculate numbers in your head? Do you enjoy competing with your friends on math challenges? Increase your fluidity and flexibility with numbers by becoming an expert with numbers and number relationships to solve mathematical problems. Strengthen your skills with mental calculation, computational estimation, magnitude of numbers, part-whole relationships, place value concepts, and problem solving by participating in classroom competitions and math bowls with like-minded peers. Be challenged as you go against other math whiz enthusiasts! Prerequisite: Algebra I; student will need a standard calculator for the course (calculator feature on a mobile device is sufficient).

J32Period - 1New 2019!Cloning: Copycat Science

Dolly, the first mammal successfully cloned from an adult cell, brought science fiction to reality. Twenty-three years later, how has the miracle of Dolly advanced its heritage? The answer lies in the controversial applications of cloning technology in areas such as farming, medical science, pharmaceutical companies, and more. Explore how the science of cloning can offer solutions for human diseases through stem-cell research. Debate the legalities and ethics of cloning and the impact it has on challenges we face in society. What role can cloning, genetic modification, and genetic engineering play in solving global challenges? Propose your solution to challenging problems. Attain the previously unimaginable one gene at a time!

J33Period - 3Taking Stock in Money Matters

Investing isn't just for grown-ups anymore. Young people live in an age when the world of finance is an integral part of everyone’s daily life. This class will introduce you to the world of investing so that you can make the most of your money, even as a young person. Topics will include savings and interest, income and expenses, and the basics of the stock market. You'll invest some imaginary money to discover your risk tolerance level in a stress-free way. Student must bring a laptop, standard calculator (mobile device calculator is sufficient), and have access to an email account to participate in this course. Minimum laptop requirements:(1) a Windows 7 or later or Mac OS Yosemite 10.10 operating system; Chromebook or tablet computers are compatible. For more information, please email Admissions at

J34Period - 4How Do You Engineer an Idea?

The automobile, steam engine, airplane, and computer were not just great ideas that shaped the 20th century, they also showcased innovative engineering. Is there an aspect of your world that you can make a little easier with the right tools or resources? How can principles of engineering transform your idea into a real-life phenomenon? Introduce yourself to the many fields of engineering, such as mechanical, civil, chemical, biomedical, electrical engineering, and many more, to identify principles that will help your invention become a hot commodity in our world. Leverage our technology-driven age to your benefit and combine your creative mind, engineering skills sets, and an area of need to inventioneer the next sought-after product!

AR35Period - 2Theater Play Full, closed to further enrollment (ages 5-8 only)

In this drama class, you will enjoy an introduction to the fantasy world created in the theater.  Examine various aspects of theater production, including taking on an acting role, analyzing a scene, designing a set, and performing for others.  Focus will be given to thinking on your feet, creating a stage presence and projecting a character.  Those who enjoy music and dance can incorporate these talents, as well. Demonstrate how theatrical you can be in front of a SIG audience! (Ages 5-8 only)

AR36Period - 2New 2019!Mime is a Terrible Thing to Waste (ages 9-12 only)

Mime, one of the earliest forms of communication, uses the human body to express itself without using words. Throughout time, humans have used mime to express myths and traditions. Today you can use mime to gain confidence, increase self-awareness, develop expressive movement, and stimulate your imagination. Challenge yourself as you graduate from occupational mimes, to character mimes, to emotional mimes. Learn to mime solo, as well as part of a team, in dramatic and humorous ways. (Ages 9-12 only)

AR37Period - 3New 2019!Fanciful and Fun: Whimsical Art Full, closed to further enrollment

Bring your carefree and youthful influence into the playful style of whimsical art. Think bright colors and imaginary worlds. Draw whimsical characters like fairies, elves, gnomes, trolls, or aliens. Examine the work of your favorite whimsical artists for inspiration. Create your own whimsical art in paintings, note cards, posters, stickers, or other products that will uplift sick people, illustrate fantasy fiction, cheer sad people, enhance personal communications, or any other goal that you have. Enjoy trying your hand at an art form that makes people happy!

AR38Period - 1New 2019!Producing a Short Film: Less Time, More Punch!Full, closed to further enrollment (ages 9-12 only)

Long before Star Wars, George Lucas directed a sci-fiction short film (1967), Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB, about a group of people living in an underground dystopia. Lucas' short film eventually served as the catalyst for his next two popular motion picture productions, American Graffiti and Star Wars. A short film, whether animated or live action, is shorter than 40 minutes long, according to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Analyze the various features of short films and evaluate the entertainment value of a short, compared to a feature length film. Come learn the trade of award-winning directors like Martin Scorsese and Wes Anderson, and film your own SIG short film. (Ages 9-12 only) Technology Fee: $50. Student must enroll by April 1, 2019 and bring a laptop with software installation permissions to participate in this course. Minimum laptop requirements:(1) a Windows 7 or later or Mac OS Yosemite 10.10; Chromebook or tablet computers are not compatible. For more information, please email Admissions at

AR39Period - 4New 2019!Teamwork is the Goal! Full, closed to further enrollment (ages 7-12 only)

Are you looking for a fun outlet that helps you build confidence, good sportsmanship, and provides the exercise you need to be healthy? Look no further. Team games and activities can provide all these benefits and more. Use strategy and teamwork to make recreation enjoyable. Participate in your own field day events such as jump rope relays and obstacle courses, as well as various teambuilding activities. Enjoy working together with your peers, stimulate your mind and body in tackling the team challenge of the day. The ability to work well as a team can lead to success in business and personal aspects of life, so join in!