SIGnificant News

Fairfield University Campus August 4, 2014

Week two at SIG in Fairfield University

As we approach our third week it is hard to believe that we are already two thirds of the way through our program. Students continue to share their many creative ideas with me as they begin to create their final projects. So many of you have shared the stories of your children and it exciting to see their progress.

SIG at Fairfield University

With almost 100 enrolled students between the ages of 5 and 12 we offer a variety of interesting and challenging courses for gifted children.

Final Projects Get Underway

Events to Look Forward To!

Wednesday, August 6th - Wacky Hat Day - show your SIG spirit!

Thursday, August 7th- Take home final projects

Friday, August 8th - Closing Ceremony (4:30-5:30 in the Oak Room in the Barron Building--PARENT LETTER WILL BE SENT HOME WITH STUDENTS ON MONDAY, INCLUDING A MAP OF THE CAMPUS). Come join us in celebrating our students' hard work & accomplishments! Please remember to wear your SIG shirt!

If you cannot attend the closing ceremony, certificates will be handed out at dismissal. Please email the office at

News from our classes

Advertising Smarts

This week our class was lucky enough to have a guest speaker, Mr. Grant, who has been in the advertising field for over 15 years in many different capacities. He was able to bring fun, humor, and most importantly expertise to the students’ comprehension of selling products and to their projects. He began by showing a few pieces of his work, gave specific suggestions for their end projects, and continued by answering multiple questions. The class will begin their print ads for their newly created products and we will begin our commercials scripts on Friday.

Science of the Superhero

This week the students learned about friction and acceleration. If a superhuman could really move as fast the Flash… what would be the consequences? Ask your student about bugs and smooshed brains. The students also began work on their own unique superhero. They began with the easy part; what does the hero look like. The other aspects included ideas such as: the hero or heroine’s name, planet of origin, superpower or powers, weakness, and even an archenemy. We will also do an experiment on force and velocity. It’s amazing how science works.

Animal Intelligence

Our 16 students enjoyed our Visitor, Don Smith, from Darien, CT who has trained his Whippet dog, Brasil , to be a Therapy Dog in Schools, Libraries, Nursing homes, and Hospitals. Brasil has had over 3600 hours of service! We learned how he has been trained to be calm and affectionate with people. He also is very fast and can travel 40 mph! Don answered all of the 20 questions we brainstormed in anticipation of his visit and gave each of us each book marks and stickers with Brasil’s picture on them. We were happy to create THANK YOU cards for Don and Brasil—which were delivered to his home.

Students have selected books from our library which help us to understand the ways service animals help people.

At the computer lab, we researched our service animal and selected many pictures for our posters and booklets. We will be constructing our posters, booklets and diaramas this week to meet our objectives.

Spies and Surveillance

We began our week by being partnered with a classmate to send a “deadrop” back and forth and to report on our success on Friday.

We went on a Field Trip to the Security Offices on campus to see how the Fairfield college students are protected during their school years at Fairfield University. Three officers answered our questions, gave us souvenirs of our trip, and allowed us to see the Dispatch Room, and the Interview Room. We were shown the equipment and tools they each wear and saw the Security car equipment as well.

We began our research (at the lab and with the library books in our classroom) based on our specific objectives and plan to use our time at the computer lab or using the library books in our classroom three more times to complete our work.

Since we will be debating whether SPYING is Ethical or not, our research time was used to support our answers for our debate.

We were supplied with websites, folders and posters to begin our research for our objectives.

The Detective-Master of Mysteries

Thus far, we have completed Fingerprint Impressions (where we learned what design was most prevent on our fingers, and did a class analysis and tally of the most common print from ALL of our fingers.--- Can you guess whether it was a LOOP, an ARCH, or a WHORL?) Bite Impressions were also done--- (with Styrofoam plates and three types of candy, YUM!—one to eat and one for testing--(to determine the best quality of impression).

We have solved two mysteries as a class and 8 mysteries as partners. We have unscrambled Important Forensic Science –Crime Scene words, and learned the jobs, and meanings of specific Forensic Scientists. (Anthropologist, Psychiatrist, Chemist, etc.)

We did a Powder Analysis Lab of four white powder substances and determined their appearance, texture, smell and reactions to water, vinegar and hydrogen chloride.

We visited the Security Offices on the Fairfield University Campus and witnessed a student being interviewed on tape, saw the 100 screens (with 100 more coming in September) that monitor the activities all over campus, and saw an authentic fingerprinting kit in action. We received souvenirs from our trip, and were happy to sign our THANK YOU card to all the men and woman that showed us their pepper spray, baton, and bullet proof vests!

Lip Impressions Lab and research through our classroom library books and computer room access will help us get started on fulfilling our objectives. We are very busy OBSERVING our surroundings and learning to be a GREAT Detective!

Planetary Science (Cecere): This week students created their own solar systems with a wide variety of “out of this world” features. Mid-week we began to focus on class objectives for presentations next week.

Sports Stop: Students have cycled through playing all sports of interest and they have researched roles of strategies of their favorite sport. We are now working on skill improvement in these same selected sports.

Sports Stop (Roberto)

This week we spent a good deal of time discussing sharing, good sportsmanship, honest and the value of communication on the sports field. The students seemed to fully enjoy the athletic events.

SIGs People's Court

This week we watched a mock trial, the case of The Three Bears Vs. Goldie Locks. The video highlighted the steps of a mock trial and associated terms. Then we acted out our first mock trial, the Case of the Stolen Car. Now we are starting our third mock trial, where the student will be extracting their own points of view and questions.

Cracking the Code

During this week we put a lot of time into practicing our number lines, single digit addition, 2 digit addition and subtraction. We complete several lessons on We also concluded our lesson on hieroglyphics.

Eureka! Inventive Minds: We started each class this week with a brainstorming exercise to help us practice fluency of ideas. Quantity is important! We did some spontaneous problem solving; We took some classroom supplies and changed them into something "useful." We also practiced S.C.A.M.P.E.R. as a brainstorming and inventing technique by using animals as our subject. One of the inventors changed a lamb's wool to cotton candy! Yum! Each of the inventors have decided on a problem that they want to solve and have chosen the solution that works best as an invention. Some of the problems in the class are; Nightmares, getting the last of the toothpaste out of the tube, getting the peanut butter at the bottom of the jar, and getting bumps on your finger from writing so much. The students gave each other feedback and advice on their solutions. We look forward to completing our prototypes for next Friday!

Building Blocks of Engineering: We have had a busy week! We used our research from the computer lab to decide on a boat design that would hold the most weight. The engineers had to create a blueprint of their design and bring it to the contractor in order to obtain materials for building. We built our boats in teams and tested them in a tub of water to see which shape would hold the most weight. We learned about potential and kinetic energy and how it applies in roller coasters and in our next task: Catapult building! The last day of this week will be donated to the classic "Egg Drop" experiment where we will be dropping our protected eggs off of the dining hall porch. It is 25 feet up!

Planetary Science Section A (Dibble)

The astronomers have been designing and creating their own solar system. They have been researching the different atmospheric compositions, gravities, surface temperature, and orbital period of the planets and our sun to develop their own for their each "created" celestial object. During a survey of the class, Miss Dibble discovered a love of math in almost all of the students. We used our skills to choose a scale for the solar system. Some students chose to scale the solar system in "Joshes" and some in cm, feet, and inches. We realized that each unit of measurement had to be equal to at least ten million km. When we went outside to make our scaled solar system, the class was astonished at how particularly far it was between Jupiter and Saturn.

Anticipating Algebra

Students are fully engaged in accomplishing their objectives as well as building interpersonal relationships by working in groups. The highlight of this week was "The Skittles Mystery" were students used algebraic expressions to determine the number of skittles their group members had. All that hard work paid off, there was a tasty treat at the end!

Rocks, Minerals & Crystals

This week we did experiments with table salt and Epson salts to grow crystals and compare properties. We also went on a rock-hunting expedition.

Magic Carpet Expeditions

We finished our study on North America, Mexico, and the United States. We read a Mexican fable, “The Little Red Ant and the Great Big Crumb,” and did a two-dimensional El Legato drawing.

Curious Chemists

We mixed colors to create chromatology with coffee filters. Today, we made Fizzy Lemonade to observe the chemical reaction and learn about acids, bases, and carbon dioxide.


This week in Dinosaurs we learned that much of what we know about dinosaurs today is from the study of their fossils by paleontologists. We also created fossils by sinking our hands in wet clay to make an impression/fossil of our own hands. The students then put their own miniature toy dinosaurs in with the clay/fossil too. As a final touch, each child signed their name on their newly created fossil. The next day, they were almost completely dry so each child was encouraged to paint them, which they did. We talked about the land bridge between Russia and North America that existed 70 million years ago during the Cretaceous period, and how it might have allowed dinosaurs to cross back and forth between two continents in an easy manner. Finally, this week we will begin working on designing and writing our own book about dinosaurs called, "My Dinosaur and Me."

Art Alley

In Art Alley we learned about the late 19th century Impressionist/Expressionist painter, Vincent Van Gogh. We then carefully took apart one of his beautiful landscape paintings to see how each student could construct their own personal landscape painting by copying his color structure and design. This week we will be working in collage and how you are still able to create and interesting picture just by using pieces of paper from a magazine, forming a design, and gluing it down. Sometimes paint and pencils are not needed to be an artist. We also learned that Pablo Picasso was one of the first great early 'collagists', and that the word "collage" is French for "to glue". Who knew?

Rainforest: Tropical Treasures

This week our young rainforest explorers conducted research for their final projects. They are learning about food chains and food webs in the Amazon. Each student created a labeled illustration of a rainforest food chain specific to a plant, insect, reptile, bird, amphibian or mammal of choice. We delved into the reasons a bromeliad makes a great home for a poison dart frog. We worked with a partner to chart the characteristics of frogs vs humans as well as necessities for survival. The next area of study is focused on climbing. Students made Anaconda paper snakes and watched a segment on 'How to build a treehouse". Each student will design an ideal treehouse and explore monkey habitats.

Art Alley

Art students continue to expand on their knowledge of the elements of art. They practiced mixing colors for unique color wheels. Students made value charts with drawing pencils, charcoal pencils and charcoal sticks. Values were explored in highlights and shadows in the creation of still life pencil and charcoal drawings. Students selected an area of focus for their final project and researched famous artists and works of art. Space and perspective will be our next lesson as students create self portraits from an ant's point of view.

Simple Machines, Complex Designs

This week our 5 and 6 year olds made kinetic rubber band cars from paper towel rolls, CDs, styrofoam, lots of glue from glue sticks, rubber bands, paper clips, with snazzy designs, and raced them on the hard surface of our tables as well as on carpeting including the ramp down to the main office. Even though these vehicles came in for intermittent repairs, there were no serious crashes. At the end of the week, we made automatons from cardboard boxes, skewers, and foam shapes that behave like gears and turn a variety of creatures of their design around. These automata are like miniature Rube Goldberg machines.

Fun with Newton Physics

Our 11 and 12 year olds began learning about the principles of physics in a short lecture and discussion format and then continued on bringing their Rube Goldberg Machine inventions to fruition...this is the point in a Rube Goldberg project where patience is tested on the part of every creator through endless trial and error to make their machine do what they want it to. At the end of the week, our group will be dropping eggs from 25' to see if they survive the fall in the protective coverings they created for them. They will be sharing their adventure with the Building Blocks of Engineering students.

Online Web Design

This week the Web Design class is combining good old-fashioned thinking
skills with 21st-century web-building internet technology. Students were
asked to design a new cell phone and create a web site to market the
product. Research, thinking, creativity, markers, and a white board were
the tools for the analysis phase. Design was done using the excellent
computer facilities at Fairfield U. While small in size, Web Design is big
on technical talent!

Storm Chasers
Students looked this past week at the effects of the Sun's rays on the
planet and the question "Why does the temperature fall as you climb a
mountain?" We measured the temperature of irradiated objects at different
angles and with different colors. The next day we explored why condensation
happens by making dew point indicators out of ice and coffee cans. Yesterday
we crafted homemade barometers to find out if the air pressure really does
change form sunny to rainy days. We found out that grannies really can
predict if rain is coming. Tuesday the students used the internet to gather
research on a storm and then create a "wikipedia" style entry as if for an
Alien. Tuesday's activity scaled them up on what will be needed for their
personal/course objective project.

Get Theatrical

The big news for Get Theatrical is the upcoming final projects. Students divided themselves into small groups on the first day of camp and began designing and preparing short scenes of their own, using information about character development, costuming, set design, and vocal projection from class activities to bring their scenes to life. The projects include three original sculpted scenes and skits (written, staged, and performed by the students), an improvised scene, and a scene from “Wicked” complete with music and singing. The final projects will be performed at the closing ceremony.


Closing Ceremony

Dear Parents,

We at the Summer Institute for the Gifted at Fairfield University would like to invite you to an event: Our Closing Ceremony will be on Friday, August 8th at 4:30 till 5:30 in the Oak Room at the Barrone Campus Center (a map is attached).

During the Closing Ceremony, you will get to hear about your child’s unique, three-week SIG experience from the Director, the Academic Dean and the instructors. The ceremony will be proceeded by a presentation of our theater group from 4:00-4:30pm. After the ceremony students will share their presentation of each class’s final projects and light refreshments will be provided. Please join us as we celebrate the experiences, accomplishments, and memories of your child’s time with us.

As the location of the closing ceremony is a long distance from our present location at Dolan School of Business we ask that students take their final projects home on Thursday at dismissal. If you will not be attending the closing ceremony, please let us know in advance so we can distribute the certificates of completion at dismissal on Friday.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our office-203-382-7084 or

We look forward to seeing you there!

The SIG Fairfield University Team

Pat DeCoster Pete Carlson

Director Academic Dean

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Pick up and Drop off

If you are coming in early to get your student please let us know ahead of time so we can make arrangements for him or her to be ready for you. Some of our students have made trips to the Library or the Fairfield Security center and are not always ready for immediate release. Thank you for your cooperation.

Final Days

Be sure that by Friday you have picked up any medicine from the nurse. Thank you.

Pete's Corner - Academics is our Mission

Your children continue to impress with their creativity, enthusiasm and positive attitudes. Thank you for giving us a chance to be part of their educational experience. Students are working on their final projects and instructors will be completing their student performance reviews for end of program assessment. It has been a pleasure serving you and the SIG community.