If you ask a room full of participants in the Center for Talented Youth's Baltimore Emerging Scholars Program what kinds of projects they worked on this school year, they might excitedly raise their hands and take turns telling you all about it: "Made towers!" "Did experiments!" "Made lights light up with electrical circuits!" "Made an airbag!" "Encrypted messages!" "Designed a satellite!" "Made an air purifier!" and, "Made slime!"
These were the enthusiastic responses that Faith Leach, Baltimore City's chief administrative officer, received when she asked participants to share some highlights from the program.
CTY invited participants of the free, school-based enrichment program and their families to a celebration in Hodson Hall on Johns Hopkins University's Homewood campus May 27 to mark the end of a fruitful year of academic exploration. It was a celebration of innovative learning and the knowledge and confidence these students can now draw from to tackle even greater academic challenges as they grow.
Students who attended Saturday's celebration received certificates while families enjoyed refreshments and a photo booth, and heard from Leach and other guest speakers, including Baltimore City Councilwoman Odette Ramos. Two brothers who are both CTY alumni—Kamal Smith, a dentist and president of the Student National Dental Association, and Kendall Smith, who specializes in anesthesiology—also spoke about their college and career paths, and encouraged students to dream big when pursuing their goals.
The BES program brings innovative, hands-on lessons to more than 400 students in 34 schools each year. Courses are interdisciplinary and revolve around high-interest topics not typically covered in schools, including architecture, engineering, space and astronomy, and digital literacy. The program was founded in 2014, and Saturday's celebration was supported in part by a grant from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.
Arianna Langford, a second grader at Cross Country Elementary School, said her favorite part of the program was learning how to design and plant a garden. "My teacher taught me how to do it and I got better and better," she said. As part of her architecture-themed course, she and her classmates also got to design a playground, choosing everything from the size of the swings to the number of slides.
Leach praised the program for investing in local students "who are going to have the big ideas of tomorrow."
"We have the passion and the brightest minds," she said, "We have what it takes to be amazing."
Learn more about the CTY Baltimore Emerging Scholars Program at ctyj.hu/BES.