The Educational Forum in Fairfield County, CT -  Apr. 3, 2016
at The Beacon School  -  111 W. North St., Stamford, CT  06902
beacon logo
 CO-HOST :   THE BEACON SCHOOL , with its new campus in Stamford, CT, has rapidly gained a strong reputation among area educators and families since its founding in 2009. Established specifically to serve intellectually curious learners, Beacon’s unique program of individualized/small-group education and flexible instruction has established a successful record of enhancing the academic and personal development of its students. For students in grades 3-12.
Participating Organizations

   TOPICS FOR INTELLECTUALLY CURIOUS MINDS:   for parents, students and friends

A Practical Map for the Road to College
It is one of life’s burdens – the college application process. Make it easier on yourself by learning some of the tools that will enable you to be an appealing admissions candidate. Most importantly, discover and be reassured that you do not need to compromise on hopes and dreams to find a college that will serve you best.
Presenter: Keith Berman, President   Options for College
Smart Girls, Challenging Times
Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck’s research reveals that high-achieving girls are significantly and disproportionately quick to display characteristics of helplessness when confronted with challenging tasks. Why does this happen? What makes the smartest girls this vulnerable? Come explore the challenges that girls and their parents face as they navigate a society, and even a world, that marginalizes female intelligence. Gain insight into the subtleties that govern the lives of smart girls and their perception of their ability, their potential, and their value. And, become better aware of how a high-achieving girl can address the obstacles she must meet in her quest for happiness and success.
Presenter: Laura Burgess, Director of Recruitment Emma Willard School
The New SAT, New ACT and College Admissions
The College Board and the ACT organizations have both announced upcoming changes to their tests that will dynamically alter the college admissions playing field for the future. With their vigorous market campaigning coupled with their extensive educational business relationships, both test administrations have been effectively targeting state-level standards and college admission approaches to better comply with the testing adjustments that will soon materialize. Come and find out what exactly will be changing on the SAT and the ACT and the very real ramifications on college admissions. More importantly, see how you can prepare yourself for what’s coming next.
Presenter: Edward Kim, Director of Curriculum  C2 Education
Academic Talent Development: Five Paths for Parents
A survey of the field of gifted education reveals few agreed-upon approaches for educating advanced learners that are sure-fire for every child. But take heart: There are some ways to proceed as a parent that raise chances for success. We’ll examine definitions of academic talent, parenting approaches that encourage motivation, considerations for a broader purpose for school, and a rubric for selecting providers of talent development opportunities beyond school. Come away with a deeper understanding of the choices before you, and a better idea of the paths that would most benefit your child.
Presenter: Charles Beckman, Manager, Parent and Volunteer Relations  Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth
Elementary Algebra: The Importance of Early Abstract Math
Traditional math curricula shun algebraic abstraction until students are well into middle school. It is becoming increasingly apparent that students are capable of working with algebraic thought and notation from a much younger age. In fact, this early exposure has shown itself to have real positive impacts on a child's overall cognitive development. Explore the history and theory behind a Russian approach that seeks to introduce the concepts of variable, equation and order of operation to students as young as the first grade. In a world of accelerating progress and endlessly proliferating information,adaptive analytical thinking and problem solving are more important than ever. Algebra is the perfect exercise to prepare young minds for this future. Find out why.
Presenters: Christopher Green, Principal   Russian School of Mathematics (Stamford)
Early College Alternatives
Curiosity and the desire to learn can be sustained throughout one's formal educational experience. For some in high school, early college alternatives can provide not only the advanced course material but also a suitable learning environment that can spark intellectual and emotional growth. An admission administrator of the institution that was the first in the country to be devoted to early college will explore three kinds of early college models and the kind of students who most benefit from this experience.
Presenter: Joel Pitt, Assistant Director of Admission  Bard College at Simon's Rock
You, Your Child, & Einstein: The Imposter Syndrome
Have you ever worried that someday someone will find out your success is due purely to luck? Do you have a fear of failure,or a feeling that your hard work is never enough? If so, then you and about 70% of the population suffer from the Impostor Syndrome. It's usually the highest achieving and most gifted people that get hit the hardest - Einstein, Tina Fey, Maya Angelou, you … your student. It is hard enough to deal with these feelings as adults, but it is harder when we see our children exhibiting the same fears. Come take a look at the Impostor Syndrome and learn how to combat this condition and give your children the confidence and skills they need to succeed.
Presenter: Jill Schaffer, Director  The Experimentory at Deerfield Academy
The Power of Creative Writing
Too often, young people's attempts to develop their writing skills are restrained by their uncertainty of grammar, or of what subjects or formats are "allowed." Giving students the space to make mistakes and express themselves creatively and in an environment uninhibited by censorship can make learning how to write not only doable but also enjoyable. Discover how providing a safe space for creativity can foster joy, literacy, and critical thinking in your child.
Presenter: Lena Roy, Northern Metro Regional Manager and Head Instructor  Writopia Lab
Gifted Underachievement: A Holistic View
Underachievement is often presented as an academic phenomenon — a disparity between grades and ability — but students experience it on much deeper levels. When gifted young people do not have access to appropriate opportunities, environments, or supports to succeed, the effects can be debilitating. Come explore the roots and ramifications of gifted underachievement - its multifaceted causes, its diverse symptoms, and its effects on students’ social-emotional lives. And, come away with strategies that you, as either a parent or an educator, can apply to foster connectedness, resilience, and meaningful achievement.
Presenter: Meredith Hafer, Head of School  The Beacon School
Addressing the Issue of Educational Cost
For most of us, the costs of college and other educational programs are viewed as formidable obstacles that can stand in the way of fully exploring, or realizing, our educational options. While cost considerations should not be dismissed, they should not be the primary factor that dissuades a person from pursuing educational opportunities. Expand your comprehension of the "cost issue" by discovering ways to save and pay for your child's education; and learn about misconceptions that make the "cost barriers" seem inconceivably high. Most of all, understand why affording education might be more realizable than you think.
The Null Curriculum: The Most Important Lessons
Only a few people know about The Null Curriculum. That's because The Null Curriculum doesn't exist; it is never discussed and it is never offered in schools. It is what children learn from what they are never taught. Research tells us that the presence of omission has a profound impact on all learners. In fact, it is arguably the most important piece of any curriculum that forms the character and world view of young people in any culture, religion, or country. The Null Curriculum is a vital part of human development that deserves to be understood by more than "a few people". Join a discussion and become more aware of a hidden pedagogy too important to ignore.
Presenter: Elisha Paul,  Head of School   The Jewish High School of Connecticut

        for students 

Getting SAT/ACT Savvy and Boosting Scores (grades 7-12)
Did you know that many of the qualities that enable one to be a great student actually can inhibit SAT/ACT test performance? If you didn’t know, then this workshop may well be worth attending. Discover some of the biggest mistakes capable students make when they take standardized exams. Learn how to recognize and avoid these mistakes and how to adopt test strategies that can transform the overall testing experience into an easier and less stressful challenge. The added benefit is that lowered anxiety levels almost always lead to performance gains. So, get empowered to ace the exams and even find enjoyment along the way.
Hot Notebook! (grades 4-8, 7-12)
This is creative writing at 100 mph. You and others will each be assigned a unique character and a want – perhaps, for example, one looking to solve an agricultural crisis begun by a maniacal politician - and be charged to begin a story until randomly instructed to pass your story to another. At each turn, you’ll tap the limits of your creativity, navigating conflicts, confronting twists, and making sense of crazy dialogues so as to enable the story’s character to achieve his or her goal. Speed chess? Improv? They might hold a candle to the pace of Hot Notebook! Come write a story (or six) and discover how plot builds character … perhaps even yours..
Presenter: Writopia Lab
To "SAT" or ACT", That is the Question (grades 7-12)
Reduce your college planning to-do list when you attend this handy session on the comparative benefits of the SAT and ACT tests. Discover, once and for all, why you might prefer one of these college entrance exams over the other, or if it might behoove you to take both. Even if the pressures of college planning loom somewhat over the horizon, it would be good to get a feeling on one of the more important college-related issues that you will be facing when your parents and guidance counselors begin bearing down. So, gain valuable insights on both tests, experience some practice problems, and obtain a stronger feel on which test is right for you.
Presenter: C2 Education
To Infinity and Beyond! (grades 6-12)
Mathematics, in its purity, explores abstract concepts through a logical process so that we can better understand ourselves and our existence. Go beyond the foundational knowledge we learn in school, be it algebra, or calculus, and obtain a glimpse of the intellectual adventures that mathematics can provide. We're discussing the idea of infinity here, in both historical and present-day contexts. In mathematical thought, understand why some infinite things are bigger than others. Be introduced to concepts logically devised to clarify premises and propose advances, as "cardinality" and "equipotence", or the Cantor Continuum Hypothesis, and understand the notion of infinity as you have never done before. But, most of all, experience why mathematics is considered the ultimate in creative mental exercise. Some familiarity with algebra helpful.
Chemistry: Faster! Hotter! Bigger! (grades 4-8)
Chemical reactions: the production and destruction of atomic bonds. They happen all the time and all around us: the rusting of metal, the autumn foliage, the explosions of firecrackers. If you are curious, and you should be, come learn about chemical reactions that we experience in our daily lives. Then, form up into small groups to focus on factors that cause chemical changes that take place rapidly, with large energy releases. Join in for an interactive, hands-on chemistry session that encompasses knowledge, observation and analysis. See what it takes to make it faster! hotter! and bigger!
Presenter: The Beacon School
The Legends of the Maya (grades 4-8)
For its time, it was one of the most advanced civilizations the world had seen. They are long gone, but for over 3,000 years the Maya established their culture, created cities and left a written record of their lives, achievements and values. So, who were the Maya, how did they see the world, what stories did they leave behind, and how do their linguistic and cultural legacies persist in the world in which we inhabit? Come explore the traditions of a fascinating culture; gain a feel for the Mayan style of illustrative writing; and appreciate how an ancient civilization continues to exert its heritage on many of our lives today, even 500 years after its collapse.
Presenter: The Beacon School
The President's Cabinet (grades 6-12)
An environmental disaster threatens millions of American lives. You, as a member of the president's cabinet, are tasked to respond to a highest-priority emergency situation requiring your expertise and your capacity to perform under fire. You, your president and your fellow cabinet members must work quickly, collaboratively, and effectively, to formulate a solution that would circumvent the threat or, minimize the potential negative outcome. In this challenging, time-sensitive, simulation, apply your knowledge of government, politics, current events, and/or environmental policy and make the world safe. We know you can; after all, you were selected by the president.
Presenter: The Beacon School
Tinkering with Microcontrollers (grades 4-6)
Bring out the electronic extrovert in you and discover your penchant for systems and electricity. Introduce yourself to basic electronic terms and concepts (inputs, outputs, analogs, electricity ...) while applying systems of microcontrollers (mini-computers) to craft a potentially infinite (maybe, a little exaggeration) number of electronic-based gizmos (flashlights, synthesizers, ...). Become a tinkerer, become electronically knowledgeable, and become aware of the infinite possibilities when tinkering and knowledge collide.
Presenter: Zaniac Learning
Tantalizing with Tapas, or Pierogies, or ...  (grades 6-8)
Combine your notions of food, music, and art, with your salesmanship to reveal just how much creativity you possess. You and your band of brothers (and sisters), are charged with developing a flashy mobile food vending unit (food truck, food boat, donkey food cart ...), creating a menu, writing a jingle - to ensure appeal so that your mother can be comfortable in her retirement. There is a caveat ... your team's effort must be made within the context of an arbitrary cultural environment. Can you think outside the box? Can you think outside your culture? With only your imagination, your teammates, and (supplied) iPads, show the world you can!
Meet the Fibonaccis (grades 4-6)
No one likes patterns more than mathematicians, and Fibonacci numbers stamp their patterns everywhere they go, from flower petals to nautilus shells. We'll set you loose with dominoes and Starbursts so you can discover why this classic number sequence amazes mathematicians. The session promises to build your math agility and maybe even your appreciation for pure math . . . and Starbursts.
Making a Strawbery DNA Split (grades 5-8)
Start with strawberries. Pound into smithereens. Add soap and salt, then mix with rubbing alcohol. The "split" that happens next from combining these common household items isn't just amazing: It reveals the recipe for life itself. Curious? Come and get it. And get served with a wider understanding of our own existence.
What Are My Thoughts Made Out Of?  (grades 7-12)
How does a conscious mind - with feelings and emotions - arise from a physical brain? Known as The Mind-Body Problem, and first posed by Rene Descartes in the 1640s, the question has challenged the world's brightest thinkers ever since. Trace the quandary from its philosophical origins through contemporary neuroscience. Modern times bring new twists to the old question: For example, could a robot ever feel pain? And what is a "philosophical zombie?" Discover just how much knowledge has been, and can be, gained by exploring a possibly unanswerable "problem."
Drawing the Line (grades 4-6)
All artists have "it", certainly all good artists. "It" is the ability to see and to draw a line. The lack of "it" prevents most of us from drawing well, or drawing enjoyment out of drawing. We all have the capability - holding us back is a lack an understanding of a line's concept, and the story that a line can relate when it is applied. In essence, we lack the ability to see what it is like to see like an artist. Gain the vision by exploring the line and experiencing its application through a variety of mediums and techniques. If you are an artist already, improve your drawing skills. If you don't believe you can draw, discover just how wrong you are.
Presenter: The Beacon School