Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education


  • Susan Assouline
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The Connie Belin & Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development is dedicated to serving the needs of the gifted community at local, national, and international levels. It offers programs for preservice and inservice educators, including the State of Iowa Talented and Gifted Endorsement. Its online and on-campus courses and workshops on gifted education support the professional development of educators worldwide.

The center is home to the Assessment and Counseling Clinic, the Institute for Research and Policy on Acceleration, and the National Institute for Twice Exceptionality. The center also administers the College of Education's Honors Opportunity Program, through which qualified undergraduate students in education work toward graduation with collegiate honors.

For more information about the center and its programs, contact the Belin-Blank Center or visit its web site.

Precollege Programs

The Belin-Blank Center offers a wide variety of programs for precollege students. The Exceptional Student Talent Search (grades 2-9) helps determine talented students' academic abilities and needs. Outreach programs include Invent Iowa (grades K-12), which encourages students to think about and solve problems through invention, and Scholastic Art and Writing Awards (grades 7-12), which recognize achievement in the literary and visual arts.

The Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (grades 9-12) engages students in original research and experimentation in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math). Students present the results of their research to a panel of judges and an audience of their peers at the Iowa Regional Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. The top two presenters are invited to present at the national symposium.

The National Academy of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering (grade 12) gives high-achieving students the opportunity to enroll at The University of Iowa before they finish high school. To enter the program, students must have completed grade 11 or the equivalent. The program is open to high-ability students worldwide.

The center's academic year nonresidential programs include Challenge Saturdays (grades 3-8), which offers half-day Saturday classes in Iowa City and in Des Moines, Iowa, for high-ability students and for Belin-Blank Exceptional Student Talent Search members; and the Weekend Institute for Gifted Students (grades 3-8), which offers three-hour Saturday classes in Iowa City for high-ability students. Challenges for Elementary School Students (grades 2-6) is a nonresidential summer program for Belin-Blank Exceptional Student Talent Search members that offers two weeks of half-day classes in Iowa City and Ankeny, Iowa.

The Belin-Blank Center also offers the following residential programs, which are held on the University of Iowa campus during summer. Students in each program participate in cultural and recreational activities and have access to the University's libraries, computer facilities, and study areas. Housing and meals are provided at the University's residence halls.

Blank Summer Institute

The Blank Summer Institute for the Arts & Sciences (BSI) is a one-week program that provides an intensive, advanced educational experience designed to enhance exceptionally talented students' intellectual and social growth. The BSI study plan complements the regular school curriculum. Students choose one of eight courses that explore advanced science, math problem solving, social sciences, creative writing, invention and innovation, visual arts, performing arts, and global and cultural studies.

To be eligible for BSI, students must be Iowa residents, must be completing grade 7 or 8, and must be nominated by their schools. Students selected for BSI receive a Myron and Jacqueline Blank Summer Scholarship to cover part of the institute's cost.

China and Hong Kong Scholars

The China and Hong Kong Scholars Program is a Belin-Blank Center partnership that brings high-ability students from China and Hong Kong to The University of Iowa to sample life as university students during the summer before their senior year of high school. The scholars take classes and engage in recreational and social activities on campus. Some of the students may be admitted to the University once they have completed high school in their home countries.

Junior Scholars Institute

The Junior Scholars Institute (JSI) is a one-week program in which students take a single advanced course for the entire week. Students choose from courses on subjects ranging from creative writing to engineering to the arts.

JSI is open to students from around the world. To be eligible, students must be completing grade 6, 7, or 8. They may nominate themselves and must submit a nomination packet. Students selected for JSI receive a scholarship to cover part of the institute's cost.

National Scholars Institute

The National Scholars Institute (NSI) is a one-week program that provides an advanced educational experience designed to enhance the development of talent. Students enroll in one advanced-level course, choosing from math, science, visual arts, creative writing, leadership, and other subjects.

NSI is open to students from around the world. To be eligible for the institute, students must be completing grade 9, 10, or 11 and must submit a nomination packet. Students selected for the institute receive a scholarship to cover part of the institute's cost.

World Languages Institute

The World Languages Institute (WLI) is a week-long intensive language program that prepares secondary school students for Advanced Placement Program exams in Spanish, Chinese, French, and Japanese. Designed by the Belin-Blank Center and the University of Iowa's Division of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, the institute enables students to enhance their language skills in a setting that nurtures a sense of community with learners who share similar interests and goals. Institute classes emphasize reading, writing, speaking, and listening comprehension while reinforcing the cultural knowledge necessary for understanding the contexts in which specific languages are learned and practiced. Students who participate in the program should have had considerable upper-division course work and should demonstrate high levels of proficiency in their chosen language.

Secondary Student Training Program

Students in grades 10-11 may nominate themselves for the Secondary Student Training Program (SSTP), a five-week residential summer research program at The University of Iowa. SSTP students conduct scientific research in University laboratories under the guidance of a faculty mentor. Visit the SSTP web site to learn more about the program, including eligibility and application.


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