Summer Institute Courses

Kirilka Katy Stavreva

Books That Come to Life

Professor of English and Creative Writing, Kirilka (Katy) Stavreva

We relish the pleasure of getting lost in a good book. What about books that come to life as they provoke, entrap, or transform their writers and readers into their own characters? What do they suggest about the relationship between illusion and reality, truth and fiction, past and present?

Students will examine contemporary fiction that shapes reality in uncanny ways. Taking the concept of living books seriously, students will experiment with form and content to create their own material books that incorporate segments from the readings, then use the College’s historic iron handpress to print artistic editions of their works.

Activities will include:

  • reading fiction that knocks the stuffing out of literary realism and social chatter
  • developing content for your own books through erasure poems and exquisite corpse experiments
  • workshopping book design and content together during afternoon sessions
  • learning to set type and operate the handpress to create their final work

What you’ll take away for your high school and college work:

  • an appreciation for forms of literature that are unlikely to be examined in the High School setting
  • experience workshopping your own writing and that of your peers
  • practice incorporating creative criticism into your work for improvement
  • practice integrated creative experimentation in writing and book-making

Prerequisites: None

Steven Neese

17 Days Later: Zombies, Brains, and Basic Neuroscience

Assistant Professor of Psychology, Steven Neese

What makes a zombie brain tick? Why are zombies always so hungry? Can you escape this class with enough knowledge to survive a zombie apocalypse? The days are numbered…

This course will be a journey into the human brain through the exploration of the behavioral changes seen in classic zombies. By examining pop culture that has influenced researchers to discuss brain science in the context of an “undead world,” students will be introduced to the major functions of the human brain and apply that knowledge to how they could survive a fictional “zombie world.”

Lab and classroom activities will include:

  • exploration of brain structure through dissection of sheep brains
  • establishing learning patterns in flatworms and measuring any saved memory in a “zombie worm”
  • uncovering hidden brain art in not so “Neuro-places”
  • viewing Night of the Living Dead (1968) as a critical study of zombie behavior
  • critical analysis of Hollywood zombies through a “neuroscience lens.” What do they get right? Wrong? What could they do better?

What students take away for high school and college work:

  • experience conducting and documenting lab processes and procedures at a college level
  • an understanding of the introductory principles of neuroscience
  • practice incorporating lab work and cultural references to form critical analysis

Prerequisites: None

Christina Johnson and Steve DeVries

Peak Performance: Applied Sport & Performance Psychology

Professor of Kinesiology, Steve DeVries and Assistant Professor of Kinesiology, Christina Johnson

Have you ever wanted to gain the mental edge? Enhance your concentration? Channel anxiety in useful ways? Bounce back from mistakes?

Applied sport psychology focuses on fostering peak experiences among performers in varied arenas—sports, exercise, dance, music, theater, academics, and work life. This class offers hands-on uses of sport psychology skills combined with an introduction to sport psychology theory and research.

Lab and activities will encourage:

  • development of communication skills
  • fostering a positive view of the causes of success and failure
  • goal-setting strategies and practice
  • employing relaxation techniques for managing anxiety
  • using imagery and positive self-talk to reach goals
  • implementing strategies to build concentration, find and be “in the zone,” and grow mental toughness

What students will take away for high school and college work:

  • practical techniques to improve performance in high-pressure situations, in sports, fine arts, and other aspects of life
  • leadership and performance skills as a member of a team
  • understanding of how to build optimal motivational states
  • a taste for the study of sport psychology and whether it’s a course of study they want to pursue
Craig Tepper

DNA: It's in Your Genes

Professor of Biology, Craig Tepper

How does genetic engineering work? How do scientists explore DNA? How does that translate to practical uses in business and forensics? Is it ethical?

Using the laboratory as the classroom, students will be introduced to biotechnology and genetic engineering as they examine current DNA technology being used in molecular biology. The lab exercises are designed to allow students to explore, hands-on, current techniques used in genetic engineering, forensic science, and biotechnology that are rapidly changing the way we view life.

Labs and activities will allow students to:

  • use creative and analytical thinking skills to solve hypothetical crimes with DNA forensic techniques
  • generate “fingerprints” of your DNA
  • use molecular tools to support an ongoing research project which examines how coral reefs cope with thermal stress associated with global warming
  • discuss widely debated bioethical issues including the human genome project, cloning animals (including humans), individualized medicine, gene therapy, and the production of genetically modified foods

What students take away for high school and college work:

  • an appreciation that recent advances in biology are due to our ever increasing understanding of basic biological processes
  • familiarity with the language of subcellular biology
  • experience in designing experiments, generating and interpreting results, and drawing conclusions from data
  • effective oral and written communication of scientific research

Prerequisites: None

Jenny Nutting Kelchen

Costume Creation: Design and Construction for the Stage

Jenny Nutting Kelchen, Costume Shop Supervisor; Lecturer in Theatre

When creating an experience for an audience, costuming is a key element to immediately creating the setting, mood, and expectation of what is to come in the performance.

In this course students will get first-hand experience in the costume designer’s “page to stage” process, transforming an idea into a realized costume. They will create a costume from start to finish through character analysis and research, design, draping/patterning, sewing, and completing a costume look presented in a showcase event at the end of the course.

Costume shop and classroom activities will include:

  • character analysis, creating research inspiration boards, and practicing both drawing and rendering techniques
  • acquiring introductory sewing skills
  • using patterns and/or draping, and sewing to create a costume mock-up
  • shopping for fabrics and notions
  • designing a hair and makeup plot for the character
  • fitting costumes and finalizing a design for the showcase

What students take away for high school and college or theatre work:

  • an understanding of timelines for theatre production costume development
  • creation of a sketchbook to develop ideas and expand art skills
  • practical experience in a costume shop using tools, materials, and sewing skills to create the costume
  • practice using the language of design and constructive criticism with field trips to see production costumes
  • Prerequisites: Some basic sewing experience helpful, but not required
Brian Johns

Engineering Product Design

Brian Johns, Assistant Professor of Engineering

How do new products evolve from an idea into a reality? Using the same cutting-edge 3D modeling software used by Google, NASA, and John Deere, students will learn the steps of the engineering process. Working alone and in teams, students will transform their final concepts into physical prototypes utilizing 3D printing technology.

Computer lab and classroom activities will include:

  • introduction to modeling software and features
  • individual work with 3D computer-aided design software group
  • collaboration to develop team ideas into 3D models

What students take away for high school and college:

  • learning how to effectively work as a member of a team
  • experience designing and building under tight deadlines
  • the skills needed to brainstorm and design professional products
  • Prerequisites: Basic math skills preferred, no engineering experience necessary

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