The Educational Forum in Washington, DC -  Dec. 11, 2016
at Nysmith School for the Gifted  -  13625 EDS Dr., Herndon, VA 20171
nysmith logo
 CO-HOST :    NYSMITH SCHOOL  was founded in 1983 on the premise that an enriched educational experience can enable critical thinking & analytical skills to enhance an individual’s learning abilities. Since then, Nysmith has grown to become among the nation’s most recognized independent schools for the gifted. To this day, the school adheres to its founding concepts in its pk-8 educational program enabling its graduates to succeed in high school and beyond.
Participating Organizations

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

Controlling Anxiety for Healthy Educational Objectives
Let’s face it … the proliferation of social media and the prevalence of high expectations form formidable barriers to the development of any student’s self confidence. So, it is perfectly understandable that anxiety levels can reach epic proportions when millennials and younger students are planning for high school, college and beyond. This, in turn, could result in less-than-optimal educational and career decisions at a time when solid decision-making is most needed. Join a discussion that addresses some of the very pressures and challenges to which today’s students are subjected. Discover ways and strategies to overcome mental and emotional barriers so that both students and parents can feel empowered, and confident, to make their best decisions during these critical periods.
Presenter: Keith Berman, President   Options for College
You, Your Child & Einstein
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
In the Eyes of (College) Admissions ...
Improve your admission appeal by obtaining an understanding of what colleges “really” consider when evaluating applications. Be a part of an engaging interactive activity that will inform you about the role that such factors as course selection, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, and even behind-the-scenes connections can play in college admissions decisions. Judge for yourself, with mock application files, who is, or who is not, deserving of acceptance. Whether you are a parent, or a student, or if you are not that 4-star running back, or are unable to donate that building, it would be a good idea to get an idea of what college admission committees are looking for.
Presenter: Chris Rodriguez, Director of College Counseling  The Webb School
Considerations for Early College
The early college option could be a most rewarding educational experience. In an early college setting, students learn in an environment where advanced course material is not only the norm, but also where the expectation for intellectual fulfillment is commonplace. It is a setting where curiosity and the desire to learn can combine in a way that could foster substantial intellectual and emotional growth. Yet, even among advanced learners, early college may not be the best educational path to follow. Come learn about the different types of early college approaches and, more importantly, the type of student who would most benefit from this choice.
Presenter: Alan Dupont, Admission Counselor  Bard Academy / Bard College at Simon's Rock
Learning to Work With Your Inner Critic
If you want to have a positive impact on the world but find yourself getting stuck and talking yourself out of taking the desired action, this talk is for you. You’ll experience and practice a new way of interacting with your Inner Critic (that critical voice in your head) so you can put an end to its limiting influence and redirect your energy toward activities that bring you joy and purpose. Learn how to replace self-doubt and anxiety with a clear focus on your strengths and values. See how this will lead you to take actions that will energize you to your core and pull you toward what matters most. And, gain the ability to give the best of yourself to enable that positive impact.
Presenter: Nicole Weston, Master Teacher  Fusion Academy
Finding & Forging Connections to Spark Learning
It is a truism that when you place the contents of diverse subjects into a common context, the awareness and understanding of each individual subject rise considerably. That's because a subject would be viewed not only for its specifics, but also for the relationships it has, or may have, with others. This allows opportunities for the discovery of knowledge that can extend as far as the threads of connection are long. And, this is what stands behind integrated STEM learning - it is finding and forging the connections that enable students to move beyond memorization to genuine learning. See how effective learning can be done with examples of student experiences, and how you can apply the same methods for your own child's development.
Presenter: Dawn Richards, Science Department Chair  Baylor School
Establishing Foundational, Lifelong Learning Strategies
Discover ways that can foster better learning habits - the benefits can be incalculable.</strong>&nbsp;Hear about how you can develop focus and awareness to become a better learner both in school and beyond. Look to become that lifelong learner where wonderment never diminishes.
Presenter: David Kim, Founder and Vice Chairman   C2 Education
What Parents & Schools Can Learn From Evolutionary Psychology
Evolutionary psychologists show that human behavior can be understood by studying the challenges humans faced in our “ancestral environments”. For instance: our brains and bodies are not good at being still for long periods of time; similarly, our brains are wired to pay more attention to social dynamics than rote memorization of "facts". These innate tendencies have important ramifications for education and parenting. Become familiar with some of our latent urges and with some of the relevant research. Then, learn how you can help tailor educational experiences for your children as they move along their individual developmental paths.
Presenter: Dan Finkel,  Head of School  Gesher Jewish Day School
Experiencing History Through Social Media & Activism
250 years ago, it took an American four months to notify his British relations of the inequity of being taxed without representation. Back then, unless one held a position of authority, being informed did no more than to generate a private reaction. Today, wherever there are human rights violations, there is someone who has access to the internet and to social media. And this allows everybody to be concurrently informed of and contribute to a meaningful discussion that can affect national and international policies. Discover the significance of the internet and how it can impact on history. And, see how social media can be employed to enhance our own awareness of the world we inhabit and our engagement in current events.
Presenters: David Yee  &  Kate Hardwick, Upper School Faculty St. Stephen's & St. Agnes School
How to Assess Summer Enrichment Programs
The selections seem infinite, as do the possible settings, purposes, and emphases. These are the wide assortment of summer enrichment programs all offering experiences that would provide your child with intellectual and emotional growth. But how would you look for a program that is best suited for your child’s needs and for your financial budget? More importantly, how might you assess the program’s suitability relative to the benefits that it may provide? Join in for a discussion that could enable you to contribute meaningfully to your child’s life.
Presenter: Robert Friedman, Director - Penn Summer Discovery  Summer Discovery

        for students 

Priming to Pump SAT/ACT Performance (grades 7-12)
Get started (or refresh yourself) on the road to one of life’s challenges: the standardized college aptitude test. To be sure, overcoming the bumps and barriers that inhibit satisfactory test results have been widely discussed over the past twenty years. But, the bottom line is that the very process of standardized testing rewards a certain approach that is not necessarily the most effective approach for learning in a conventional classroom setting. So come and understand what is needed to be a strong test-taker, discover strategies to bolster your scores, and discover how to diminish those bumps and barriers that might stand in your way.
The College Strategy Workshop (grades 6-12)
It is always good to know what goes into admission decisions. Sooner or later, you will be wondering about those very concerns as you work to submit your college application portfolio to the awaiting admissions committee at First-Choice University. Here’s the opportunity to get an idea as an experienced college admissions officer leads you through an interactive simulation that enables you to gain an awareness of what makes, or breaks, a successful application package. Knowledge is power – and power can be compelling.
Presenter: The Webb School
Architecture, Culture and You   (grades 6-8)
Through a cultural lens, combine your interest of diversity, your appreciation of design, and your awareness of your local and global surroundings to explore concepts of customs, sustainability and the world around us. Examine how local culture, climate, topography, and resources have historically governed the model and function of cultural products like food, clothing, and architecture. Then, look at contemporary times where an increasing reliance on technology has diminished many of the long-established traditions that have defined culture. Finally, see for yourself how much you are influenced by a changing world when you participate in a hands-on exercise to identify the cultural roots of various items. This is a multi-dimensional intellectual experience not to be missed.
The Art of Writing Fiction  (grades 5-8)
Immerse yourself into a world that is bounded only by the infinite limits of your creativity. Then, express what you can imagine so that you can share your world with others – as a story. However, if you are like most, the ability to articulate effectively through the written word is a challenge. Discover tools and strategies (like starting with an ending, or mashing characters) that will add pizzazz and excitement, or pathos and sensitivity (or all the above, and more), to what you have to say. Give your writing skills a boost while allowing your creative juices to flow.
Eco-Discovering the Chesapeake Bay Watershed  (grades 4-6)
The Chesapeake Bay’s extensive wetlands serve as a massive filtration system against the pollutants and toxins that can sometimes overwhelm its waters. Become ecologically aware by constructing a mock-wetland filtration simulator that will show you how the Bay protects its hundreds of wildlife and plant species. Learn of the sources of the toxins and the methods of delivery from which the Bay must shield itself and find out what you can do to ensure the Bay’s health. Make use of your interest in science and discover how you can help to safeguard a great natural treasure.
United Nations Emergency ... Zombie Pandemic!  (grades 6-12)
A zombie pandemic is raging and the world must unite to stop the rise of the Undeads. This is a job for the United Nations - for countries to put aside (or try to put aside) their differences to address a horrific threat. As your country’s ambassador, you must represent your nation’s needs as you work to build a viable coalition and craft sustainable resolutions to help mankind, or what’s left of it. Will the warning systems, information dissemination and containment procedures be enough to prevent catastrophe? Will your country be marginalized in the discussions? Whatever is being negotiated, the resolutions will be voted on by the member countries present to be implemented aggressively and, hopefully, successfully. Good luck!
Forming the Future with 3D Printing   (grades 4-8)
Believe it or not, 3D printing technology is entering its 4th decade. Yet the process retains its novelty so as to equate its existence as still something out of the future. Gone are the muscles and anvils needed to craft precision tools at the corner blacksmith, or the mechanical training required to form high-precision items in machine shops. It almost seems that all you need is a mechanical eye and the ability to understand computer aided design (CAD) software. So, if you have at least one eye, a desire to play with CAD software and an hour, become an industrial designer and design and prototype physical objects with the latest in manufacturing technology – the 3D printer.
The Math Booster   (grades 4-6)
If you are ok in math, get better. If you are great in math, become greater. Whatever your ability, or what you believe your ability to be, there is always room for improvement – and you will experience this firsthand. Join in to hone your skills to think flexibly, to learn to recognize problems strategically and how to perform operations efficiently. Discover different ways to tackle tricky teasers and practice performing mathematical operations with speed and agility using untapped stores of your mental resources. Best of all, come combine the fun and challenge of math.
You're Lying!   (grades 7-12)
The science of detecting lies is rooted in the science of biology. It is the analyses and observation of electrical pulses that are emitted by our brains that affect our behavior when subjected to stimulus – like stress – like probing questions. Of course, designing mechanical devices to measure the full complexity of human behavior is in itself a challenge. Engineering an instrument to have the ability to focus on a given pattern, or range of patterns, may come at the expense of being able to assess other patterns. Come examine and experience different lie-detecting prototypes. See if you can take advantage of machine limitations to fool detection and consider if this technology is reliable from a societal/legal standpoint.
Presenter: Baylor School
Extending the Evolution of Railroads  (grades 6-12)
The federal government has issued a bulletin calling on all designers, or would-be designers, to submit proposals that would rejuvenate the flagging rail industry. The state of rail transportation is so desperate that any and all concepts that might lift ridership, or freight ladings, would be received gladly. Take up the challenge and become acquainted with the societal, historical and design impacts of rail transportation. Understand the limitations imposed by current technology and determine where advancements can be made. Then put pen to paper, either as a solitary genius, or as part of a team, to showcase your plans. The National Transportation Board awaits your submission.
Presenter: Fusion Academy
Microscopes - Seeing a New World  (grades 4-6)
From ancient times, people have wanted to see things far smaller than could be perceived with the naked eye. The development of glass magnifiers has helped us solve microscopic mysteries. The 17th century scientists, Van Leeuwenhoek and Robert Hooke, were pioneers in the science of microscopy. With their scientific orientation and their mechanical talents, they refined the technology of the microscope to view what no man (or woman) could have seen before. Follow in the steps of such greats and explore the different ways to magnify. Come create a working model of Hooke’s microscope and use the instrument to explore a world too small to step into.
Sensory Writing: Unleashing the Power of the Pen  (grades 6-8)
Sometimes, enhancing your writing is as easy as "plugging in" words. It's true ... but you must conjure the words that can be plugged in. Discover an effective way to conceive and compile a vocabulary that will enable vibrant imagery, piquant sensations and immediacy when you put pen to paper. Then, learn how to create prose so effective that others will feel, see and hear what you write - when they read what you write. The impact can be intoxicating. It's been proven: effective communication almost always leads to success across the curriculum, if not beyond.
Presenter: The Webb School
Being a Part of History  (grades 7-12)
Immerse yourself in 21st century activism. Roam the world through the internet contributing to social discourse and helping to influence attitudes and, ultimately, policies that address social wrongs. Concerned about voter suppression in Odessa, Ukraine or Odessa, Texas? You can be actively involved with the touch of a button. Beyond the elevated sensation of excitement, the benefits are plenty: a greater awareness of current events, a stronger capacity to use language as a form of communication, and a deeper understanding of historical trends as they unfold. Discover how to become an effective, and active, critic, so that you can help make a difference when it counts.