Sharing similarities, celebrating differences: GER2I Summer Residential Camps

Over two hundred 5th-12th grade students went to “college” at Purdue this summer – at Summer Residential Camps (SRES) held by Purdue Education’s Gifted Education Research and Resource Institute (GER2I), that is. For the first summer since 2019 students came to campus to participate in these camps – stimulating their imaginations and expanding their abilities as they lived in the Purdue Honors College residence hall, took challenging courses, got to know students from other cultures, and engaged in fun recreational activities.

GERI Campers

Summer residential campers took classes in art and science, biomedical engineering, brain games, and data protection.

GER2I’s residential program welcomed 225 students this summer from 20 states, Puerto Rico, and 10 countries. Participants included attendees from three Native American tribes: Lakota (SD), Ojibwe (MN and MI), and Navajo (AZ and NM). The students made friends with others from diverse backgrounds with similar interests, and some 7th-12th graders went on optional field trips to the Indiana State Museum and Fair Oaks Farms.

Tugce Karatas, a doctoral student and graduate research assistant, served as the Summer Residential Program Coordinator. “Through our fantastic teamwork, we successfully completed a month of curiosity, discovery, experiments and creativity with students with gifts and talents from all over the world in our 2022 SRES Programs,” she said. “As this year’s GER2I quote by M. Scott Peck said, we ‘shared our similarities, celebrated our differences’ through a flexible, diverse, culturally responsive, challenging, and fun learning environment.”

“Our graduate students gain valuable experience in planning, delivering, and evaluating our programs, including budgeting, interviewing and hiring teachers and camp counselors, and actively supervising program activities,” said Kristen Seward, professor of educational studies and associate director of GER2I.

“Comets” (5th– 6th graders) came for one week and took classes in crime scene investigation, creative thinking, filmmaking, environment, air, neurons, STEM/STEAM, and virtual geography.

 “Stars” (7th-8th graders) experimented with brain games, global problem solving, physics, costume design and hat making, spies and information protection, STEAM Machines, fairytales, media production, audio engineering, and food science

“Pulsars” (9th-12th graders) got a taste of biomedical engineering, neuroscience, game theory and global politics, global problem solving, “mathless” physics, toy and robot design and prototyping, Python® programming, leadership, dark side of data and social media, and more.

The two-week residential programs ended with a Global Gala and Talent Showcase where students shared their cultures in song, dance, and food. On the last day they presented their final projects.

“Students with gifts and talents had unique experiences during their time at Purdue with personalized, hands-on academic enrichment, holistic talent development, and social-affective program with peers all around the world,” said Bekir Olcay Akce, a doctoral student and teaching assistant who coordinated residential life this summer.

“Being a part of such a unique program is very special to me and one of the most rewarding experiences of my career,” Karatas said. “I cannot wait to see our campers as future leaders, critical thinkers, problem solvers, and more.”

Partial financial aid for summer residential camps may be available on a first-come, first-served basis when students apply.

The Gifted Education Research and Resource Institute (GER2I) at Purdue University is an innovative center dedicated to the discovery, study, and development of human potential. Founded by John Feldhusen in 1974, GER2I’s mission is holistic development of giftedness, creativity, and talents among individuals throughout their lifespan. GER2I accomplishes its mission through enrichment programs for gifted, creative, and talented youth; graduate programs for future scholars and leaders; professional development and coursework for educators of gifted, creative, and talented students; and cutting-edge research in psychology and education related to giftedness, creativity, and talent development.

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