Summer Academy at The Huntington – A Scholar’s Paradise
By Louise Hindle
Louise is IEA’s Academy Coordinator. Academy offers K-8th grade students challenging enrichment classes that focus on exploration and application of knowledge.
This year, IEA had the tremendous opportunity to host both 3-week Summer Academy sessions at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, that scholar’s paradise situated in the center of San Marino, known and loved by curious minds near and far, young and not so young! It was a boon to our community to enjoy this remarkable location, and more, to begin to appreciate how such partnering might enrich our classes further. As we conclude our inaugural Academy program at The Huntington, we look back at the summer sessions through the eyes of our most important critics: the Academy students themselves!
‘I LOVED EVERYTHING!!!’ screams the written evaluation from Simone O. on her post-program survey. Simone spent the summer in classes like Ancient Rome, Physics Lab, Planetary Astronomy and Scientists Like Me, devoting a fair amount of time in between with her nose in a book, a smile on her face and an eager commitment to staying for extra time on Thursdays to enjoy our mini-lecture series. She, along with the other friends she made, also described making new connections and ‘unforgettable memories at The Huntington’. As they hung out at lunch, shared stories and laughter, walked the gardens and dodged the sprinklers, they took time to tell us:
- We do unique, fun experiments and activities to further our understanding of demanding concepts, such as creating a diagram of the solar system made out of different food items to help demonstrate each planet’s qualities
- It was challenging intellectually – but in a good way!
- We’ve understood art and art history through cool scavenger hunts in the gallery
- The teachers have been such a big part in our learning process. They have the ability to make learning fun and much more interactive than regular school
- We were inspired by scientists from the past by visiting the ‘Beautiful Science’ exhibit
- You get the chance to work at a pace that suits your own learning style and level of interest
- We understood the context of Bronte’s Jane Eyre through seeing and talking about key texts with a leading curator (even though the text was impossible to read!)
What’s more, the students told us that all classes were overall more in-depth and more specific than anything they’ve had the chance to enjoy so far – as well as being interestingly inter-disciplinary! Feedback, so far then, suggests this time was, indeed, one of ‘paradise’.
Naturally, watching friendships develop and personalities emerge is, of course, a major part of the summer camp experience. For IEA staff and Academy teachers, one of the most thrilling parts of the last 6 weeks has been watching our community of children grow intellectually, as well as socially, and grow to believe that their passions and interests are shared with others and could give them pathways to a unique future. Parents, too, have taken extra time to write and to let us know how glad they are to have ‘discovered’ us, that their child ‘had a blast’ and that their child ‘is already asking about when she can take another class’. In addition, as we evaluate, we love to hear your ideas for future classes, from Robotics to Botany, from Architecture to Art History; rest assured, we will continue to listen and respond.
The Oxford English Dictionary tells me that the lexical item ‘Paradise’ can be traced back to Middle English to the Old French word, ‘paradis’, via ecclesiastical Latin from Greek ‘paradeisos’ or ‘royal (enclosed) park’. Having been on site at The Huntington did indeed elevate us and make us feel ‘royal’ and protected, but in a more modern sense of the word, as young scholars, our Academy students found their idyllic place and their idyllic state of mind in a safe and stimulating community.
Thanks to all who contributed their honest thoughts to this blog and to all who made this happen, and happen so successfully! It was paradise.
More information about Fall 2014 Academy coming soon! To stay updated on future offerings, join our email list.