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L.I.V.E. Catalog

live

CTY's Live Interactive Virtual Explorations (L.I.V.E.) courses offer bright students advanced learning options in dynamic, community-centered digital classrooms with peers who share their interests.

Session Dates

Course meetings take place every Wednesday or Saturday during a session.
Meeting options listed with course descriptions.

green arrow Spring Session: January 23 – March 24, 2021
Application deadline: January 5, 2021

L.I.V.E. courses offer a blend of live online instructor-led activity and independent learning that includes discussions, class projects, and interactive exercises designed to foster community in a digital environment. The program's instructor-developed courses are limited to about 10 students per section and focus on a range of engaging topics taught by instructors who specialize in teaching advanced students.

Tuition
Tuition for each CTY L.I.V.E. course is $1,000 per session. See our Tuition and Fees page for additional details.

Time Commitment
L.I.V.E. courses include one hour of real-time (synchronous), interactive class time with the course’s instructor and classmates each week, and require an additional three hours of independent coursework weekly (for a total of four hours per week per course). Students should be prepared to complete all independent coursework and attend all class meetings, as these are not recorded and cannot be made up.

The spring 2021 session will consist of one class meeting per week. For the first and final class sessions (January 23/27 and March 20/24, respectively), classes will meet for 90 minutes.

Eligibility
All CTY L.I.V.E. courses require CTY-level eligibility. Some courses require qualifying math scores, some require qualifying verbal scores, and some allow either math or verbal scores. Eligibility requirements, including prerequisites, for each course are indicated in the course descriptions below. Students who do not have prerequisites on file at the time of application will not be enrolled.

Course Placement
CTY L.I.V.E. courses enroll on a first-come, first-served basis. Placement in a course is contingent on available seats. Because of anticipated application volume, some applicants may not receive their first-choice course even if it was available when they submitted their application.

Students may select up to 10 courses on their application to give them the best chance of being placed.

Please note: CTY L.I.V.E. courses are not graded and cannot be taken for credit or placement.

Courses by Grade

Grades 3-6

smiling student

The following spring courses are for students who are currently enrolled in the grades listed.

Catching the Criminal

green arrow Grades 5–6
Eligibility: CTY-level math score
Prerequisites: None
Meeting options:
      Wednesday – 5 p.m.

Ideal for:
STEM Fanatics
Bookworms

Print evidence can place suspects at a crime scene, identify missing persons, and exonerate the innocent. Begin with an overview of the history of print evidence, focusing on fingerprints, footprints, and tire tracks. Upon learning the difference between class and individual evidence, determine whether a print links a suspect to a crime scene or just helps investigators narrow down their search. Study patent, latent, and plastic fingerprints, and learn how forensic scientists identify and use them. Dive in to each type of print evidence as you classify fingerprints, dust and lift prints, scrutinize print details used in court, cast shoe prints, examine shoe and tire marks in your neighborhood, read real case studies involving print evidence, and apply this knowledge in online mock cases.

Fantasy Worldbuilding

green arrow Grades 5–6
Eligibility: CTY-level verbal score
Prerequisites: None
Meeting options:
      Saturday
 – 8 p.m.

Ideal for:
World Adventurers
Bookworms

What deeply draws audiences into the settings of their favorite fantasy worlds? What makes these otherwise mythical places feel like real locations in the minds of readers? Create and develop your own fantasy world through the application of geography, cartography, and anthropology. Learn the literary elements of storytelling, analyzing specific examples from the genre as you engage in writing exercises that give you the tools to compose stories in your newly minted fictional setting. Special attention is paid to characterization, description, conflict, setting, exposition, and aspects of the hero's journey through excerpts from Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Activities include creating a detailed map of your world, constructing profiles of civilizations, and writing short stories featuring heroic characters who live in your setting.

Geometric and Spatial Reasoning

green arrow Grades 3–4
Eligibility: CTY-level math score
Prerequisites: None
Meeting options:
      Saturday – 9 a.m. ET

Ideal for:
STEM Fanatics
Aspiring Coders

Geometric and spatial reasoning skills are essential for living in and making sense of the world around us. Everything from solving a jigsaw puzzle to arranging furniture to efficiently packing a bag requires these abilities. Learn and practice these skills as you delve into the mathematical relationships between objects—ones that include congruence and symmetry, reflection and rotation, or expansion and contraction. Explore the geometric properties of regular polygons and the so-called platonic solids, investigating relationships between area, circumference, and volume in a rigorous fashion. Exercise hands-on investigation, collaboration, and discussion as you and your classmates physically construct polyhedra while exploring the geometric properties of regular polygons, tessellations, and other tools for studying objects in space.

Grossology

green arrow Grades 3–4
Eligibility: CTY-level math or verbal score
Prerequisites: None
Meeting options:
      Wednesday
– 5 p.m. or 7 p.m. ET

Ideal for:
STEM Fanatics
Future Doctors

The human body is an amazing but sometimes gross thing. From the blood inside us to the gas that comes out, each slimy, gunky, or smelly part has a vital role to play in keeping us healthy. Why do we burp, and why does it smell? What are boogers made of? What’s in blood, and why is it so red? And why do scabs form once the bleeding has stopped? Explore these questions and bodily functions with your peers through online discussion, anatomy and physiology mini-lessons, research articles, and short at-home experiments. Gain a better understanding of the human body—especially those things you don’t want to discuss at the dinner table!

Mathematical Proofs

green arrow Grades 5–6
Eligibility: CTY-level math score
Prerequisites: None
Meeting options:
      Wednesday
– 5 p.m. ET
      Saturday – 9 a.m. ET

Ideal for:
STEM Fanatics
Aspiring Coders

Reasoning, logic, and critical thinking are the building blocks of intellectual inquiry. Focus on developing these skills through problem-solving and exposure to a wide range of topics in mathematics as you are introduced to the idea of mathematical proof and deductive logic. Starting with foundational tools such as truth tables, logic trees, and Venn diagrams, explore ideas of validity, consistency, and sound reasoning. By doing so, you’ll learn the differences between axioms and hypotheses and how to use both to obtain results.

Microbiology

green arrow Grades 4–5
Eligibility: CTY-level math score
Prerequisites: None
Meeting options:
      Wednesday – 7 p.m. ET

Ideal for:
STEM Fanatics
Future Doctors

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is about 100nm in size but has caused a global pandemic. How can something so small cause so much damage? Explore different types of viruses and bacteria, learning how pathogens have cohabitated with human beings throughout history. Discover why some microorganisms are helpful, how others infect their hosts to cause trouble, and why many are so difficult to understand. As part of your coursework to master this content, you participate in short at-home activities such as making a coronavirus model out of household items or using glitter to better understand germ transmission. You will also select a microorganism to research and present to your peers, gaining a foundational knowledge of microbiology and a better understanding of the tiny organisms all around us.

Mission to Mars: Robotics in Space

green arrow Grades 5–6
Eligibility: CTY-level math score
Prerequisites: None
Meeting options:
      Saturday
– 8 p.m. ET

Ideal for:
STEM Fanatics
Skilled Gamers

Required Materials: You will need access to Lego Mindstorm EV3, black tape, and a computer with a camera.

Sojourner, Spirit, and Opportunity—robots sent by NASA to explore Mars—each outlasted their missions but were ultimately bested by the planet’s harsh conditions. Sojourner lost its base station, Spirit became stuck in its soil, and Opportunity fell prey to a dust storm. With Curiosity still sending selfies from Mars—and Perseverance set to land there in 2021—human space knowledge is benefiting immensely from the scientific work of robots. But how does one design a robot to survive the red planet and gather helpful information? Focus on answering this very question as you explore programming concepts such as the use of conditionals, variables, functional decomposition, abstraction, and flow control. Applying this knowledge, construct and program a robot to complete Mars-specific challenges like autonomous maneuvering for retrieving objects, thereby gaining firsthand insight into robotics in space.

Model UN: Institutions and Global Health

green arrow Grades 5–6
Eligibility: CTY-level verbal score
Prerequisites: None
Meeting options:
      Wednesday
– 5 p.m. ET
      Saturday – 9 a.m. ET

Ideal for:
Policy Wonks
World Adventurers
Social Justice Champions

How we behave under stress often gives a rare, unfiltered glimpse into how we think and act, but what about our institutions? Examine the UN—specifically, the World Health Organization (WHO)—by studying past epidemics such as Ebola and AIDS in order to effectively address a future global health crisis. Explore the political, economic, and cultural influences on foreign policy within both the UN and its constitutive countries. Central to this exploration is a streamlined simulation of a Model UN WHO subcommittee. Assigned the roles of ambassadors and health ministers, you and your classmates investigate how an epidemic could affect your countries, drafting position papers and policy resolutions. Through reading and discussing primary documents, contributing to wikis, and creating videos, learn about the complexities of your assigned country as well as the capabilities of multilateral institutions.

Problem-Solving Strategies

green arrow Grades 4–5
Eligibility: CTY-level math score
Prerequisites: None
Meeting options:
      Saturday – 9 a.m. ET

Ideal for:
STEM Fanatics
Skilled Gamers
Aspiring Coders

Develop strategies for solving a wide variety of word problems using resources from Ken Johnson and Ted Herr’s Problem Solving Strategies: Crossing the River with Dogs and Other Mathematical Adventures. Explore diagrams, systematic lists, elimination, working backwards, matrix logic, and unit analysis as you strengthen your ability to use these strategies to solve a wide variety of complex problems. Problems in this course are designed so that there are multiple strategies and combinations that will lead to a correct answer, which allows you and your peers to share your ideas and compare/contrast the different ways of problem-solving.

Project Mars

green arrow Grades 4–5
Eligibility: CTY-level math score
Prerequisites: None
Meeting options:
      Saturday
 – 8 p.m. ET

Ideal for:
STEM Fanatics
World Adventurers

You and your classmates take on the role of intrepid interplanetary explorers, designing a space probe, learning about the complexity of landing an exploration vehicle, and planning a Martian colony. For decades, scientists have looked to Mars as an untapped resource, possibly holding clues to the origin of the solar system as well as the potential for future colonization. Numerous autonomous satellites and rovers have been sent to the red planet, and with each successful mission we learn more about our most accessible celestial neighbor. Explore topics such as Newton’s Laws of Motion, Kepler’s laws, and terraforming as you learn about the atmospheric and geological conditions that exist on Mars. Utilizing this knowledge, design plans for a mission and develop a sustainable blueprint for a prosperous civilization.

Taking a Chance: Mathematics of Game Shows

green arrow Grades 5–6
Eligibility: CTY-level math score
Prerequisites: None
Meeting options:
      Wednesday
 – 5 p.m. ET

Ideal for:
STEM Fanatics
Skilled Gamers

Step right up and try your hand at solving some of the world’s classic math conundrums! We have options galore: Plinko, Golden Balls, Deal or No Deal, and many more. Pull the curtain back on the mathematical theories behind some of the most enduring probability puzzles and popular TV game shows, and gain insight into game design and contestants’ thought processes. Critically apply your new knowledge and skills to explore decision-making and strategy in game shows through both independent and group work such as problem-solving challenges, discussions, and simulations. The final project draws from previous coursework: research a game show of your choosing and dive deep into its mathematical structure and outcomes.

Whodunit?: The Art of Crafting Mystery Stories

green arrow Grades 3–4
Eligibility: CTY-level verbal score
Prerequisites: None
Meeting options:
      Wednesday
– 5 p.m. ET

Ideal for:
Skilled Gamers
Bookworms

Explore great mysteries as you analyze and interpret examples of the genre, gaining expertise with literary elements such as foreshadowing, tone, and narrative arc. What does it take to be a great detective? How do mystery writers keep us guessing? For generations, they’ve captivated readers with compelling characters and suspenseful storytelling punctuated by intriguing, unconventional sleuths like Eve Titus’ Basil of Baker Street and Wendelin Van Draanen’s Sammy Keyes. Using model texts as the basis for sharpening your own skills, practice effective techniques as you brainstorm, draft, and revise. Activities may include writing a locked-room mystery and having your classmates solve it, engaging in collaborative annotations, and analyzing the dynamics of online mystery games. As a final project, you’ll present your polished stories to each other while providing and receiving feedback.


Grades 7-10

smiling student

The following spring courses are for students who are currently enrolled in the grades listed.

Aeronautical Engineering

green arrow Grades 7–10
Eligibility: CTY-level math score
Prerequisites: Algebra I. Students in this class should have a strong background in physics or have completed CTY Summer Programs’ The Physics of Engineering course.
Meeting options:
      Wednesday
– 5 p.m. ET

Ideal for:
STEM Fanatics

How do aircraft fly? Why might a fighter jet use delta wings while a commercial jet has swept wings? Examine elements of aeronautical engineering—including how aircraft produce lift, propulsion, and thrust—as you learn how to calculate lift and drag coefficients, aspect ratio, and center of gravity. By designing, building, and testing a model and carefully documenting results, you’ll relate variations in the shape and structure of your aircraft to its performance. Along with guided readings, participate in discussions of key principles and derivations of formulas, working together to solve aircraft issues and develop performance solutions.

Arduino® Prototyping

green arrow Grades 7–10
Eligibility: CTY-level math score
Prerequisites: None
Meeting options:
      Wednesday
– 7 p.m. ET
      Saturday – 9 a.m. ET

Ideal for:
STEM Fanatics
Aspiring Coders
Young Entrepreneurs

No coding or programming experience is required for this course.

What do punch-activated flamethrowers, automatic pet feeders, and mind-controlled drones have in common? They’re all real devices built and programmed using Arduino® microprocessors. This open-sourced electronics platform integrates hardware and software to create an unlimited array of automated electronic systems. Discover what a digital prototyping platform can accomplish as you work on creating devices that undertake tasks such as reading data from a sensor or activating lights based on motion and proximity. Using an Arduino® microprocessor, a breadboard, and a sensor and actuator kit, explore existing prototypes, learn to modify code, and adapt designs to fit their needs. Your final project will be designing, coding, and building a device that addresses a specific need within your community.

Bioethics in the Age of Pandemics

green arrow Grades 7–10
Eligibility: CTY-level math or verbal score
Prerequisites: None
Meeting options:
      Wednesday
– 7 p.m. ET

Ideal for:
STEM Fanatics
Policy Wonks
Future Doctors

With the emergence of COVID-19, ethical issues in medicine have never been more pronounced in our social consciousness. Explore salient issues such as rationing scarce resources, making shutdown decisions for public health, and evaluating risk amid substantial uncertainty. Develop your own critical reasoning skills, learning how to construct and analyze arguments while participating in debates and discussions around well-known philosophical dilemmas, and gain additional exposure to clinical ethics by deliberating real-world cases. Bioethics in the Age of Pandemics equips you with a valuable set of philosophical tools to better grasp the moral dimensions of this pandemic as it continues to unfold before our eyes.

The Constitution in Crisis

green arrow Grades 7–10
Eligibility: CTY-level verbal score
Prerequisites: None
Meeting options:
      Wednesday
– 7 p.m. ET

Ideal for:
Policy Wonks
Social Justice Champions
Bookworms

What rights would you give up in order to feel safe? What safety would you give up to protect your rights? How does a democratic republic, with rights reserved for both the federal and state governments, create a coherent response to a crisis? Drawing upon a variety of documents, explore U.S. policy decisions during crises such as the Civil War and 9/11 and their long-term effects. In a pandemic, for instance, is a church or a gun store an essential service? Who decides? Likewise, is government use of an app that tracks your temperature and movement to benefit public health an unconstitutional act of search and seizure? By engaging in discussions of legal and political theory, research, debates, and analytical writing, deepen and sharpen your understanding of law and politics—particularly how the tension between freedom and security often changes the power balance between governments and citizens.

Diagnosis: Be the Doctor

green arrow Grades 7–10
Eligibility: CTY-level math score
Prerequisites: None
Meeting options:
      Wednesday
– 5 p.m. or 7 p.m. ET
      Saturday – 9 a.m. or 8 p.m. ET

Ideal for:
STEM Fanatics
Future Doctors

Doctors often have to make quick decisions based on their knowledge, experience, and a short list of symptoms—it’s not so easy to always get it right, and lives are often on the line. Drawing upon basic biological and chemical concepts, explore the intricate anatomical and physiological mechanisms underlying human function. Outside of class meetings, use your new knowledge and additional research to write case studies about situations gone wrong. You must ask and answer questions, diagnose root causes, run tests, and order treatments that will help your patients recover. You might, for example, apply your understanding of the respiratory and circulatory systems to an injured hockey player who took a hit during a game, or to the nervous system of a child who has had a series of seizures.

Game of Life: The Theory of Strategic Behavior

green arrow Grades 7–10
Eligibility: CTY-level math score
Prerequisites: None
Meeting options:
      Wednesday
– 7 p.m. ET

Ideal for:
STEM Fanatics
Skilled Gamers

How do individuals interact? How do they cooperate, compete, and respond to incentives? All involve strategic behavior, the purview of the economic theory of games. Study game theory through experiments, competitions, mathematical analysis, and debate, and apply game theory to model, evaluate, and predict outcomes of strategic behavior in the real world. Conduct a final research project in which you model and analyze a real-world strategic interaction. By engaging in simulations, problem sets, collaboration, and independent research, you will gain the ability to describe prototype games like the Prisoner’s Dilemma and Stag Hunt; explain formal concepts such as players, strategies, payoffs, dominance, backward induction, and equilibrium; identify and evaluate Nash equilibria of simultaneous and sequential games; and model and analyze real-world strategic interactions as formal games.

Making the Case: Effective Legal Arguments

green arrow Grades 7–10
Eligibility: CTY-level verbal score
Prerequisites: None
Meeting options:
      Wednesday
– 5 p.m. ET

Ideal for:
Social Justice Champions
Policy Wonks
Bookworms

Objection, your Honor! Overruled! Guilty beyond a reasonable doubt! These are the phrases that lawyers and judges battle with in our favorite courtroom dramas. They speak to the argumentation at the heart of the adversarial American justice system in which two sides advocate their positions before an impartial judge and jury. How does one win in court? What goes into a strong legal argument? What are the rules and procedural context in which one attempts to secure a favorable verdict? Is it always logic that wins the day? Review aspects of an effective legal argument, learning about the American legal system in the process and enriching your critical thinking, reading, and expression skills. Through individual and group work, analyze historical and fictional court cases and apply what you learn to constructing, presenting, and defending arguments.

The Mathematics of Volatile Markets

green arrow Grades 7–10
Eligibility: CTY-level math score
Prerequisites: None
Meeting options:
      Wednesday – 5 p.m. or 7 p.m. ET

Ideal for:
STEM Fanatics
Young Entrepreneurs

What does it mean when bubbles burst, stock markets crash, and hyperinflation takes off? How do these major economic events affect businesses and individuals around the world? Focus on the boom-bust cycles of financial markets and how they can be explained mathematically. Analyze stock- and bond-market patterns and discuss the various solutions suggested or enacted by governments around the world—such as corporate bailouts, social safety nets, and increasing the monetary supply—to determine their effectiveness in mitigating market volatility. Develop an understanding of various savings and investment mechanisms that individuals can utilize to diversify their finances and minimize personal risk.

Modern Cryptography

green arrow Grades 7–10
Eligibility: CTY-level math score
Prerequisites: Algebra 1
Meeting options:
      Wednesday – 5 p.m. ET

Ideal for:
STEM Fanatics

In the age of digital surveillance, apps boasting end-to-end encryption such as WhatsApp and Telegram have flourished. What are these tools, and how do they work? How have developments in modern computing and mathematics affected the field of cryptography and impacted privacy and safety in modern society? Explore modern cryptographical tools such as ElGamal encryption and the Diffie-Hellman key exchange or the RSA cryptosystem with a focus on the interplay between privacy and security, including how governments and law enforcement agencies respond to new technological developments. As you and your peers develop your own cryptosystems or product ideas that solve an issue in modern cryptography, you simultaneously consider the technological and social implications of your work by looking deeply into its potential long-term impacts on cryptography and how it may complicate the balance between privacy and security.

The Psychology of Memory

green arrow Grades 7–10
Eligibility: CTY-level math or verbal score
Prerequisites: None
Meeting options:
      Wednesday
– 7 p.m. ET
      Saturday – 8 p.m. ET

Ideal for:
STEM Fanatics
Future Doctors
Bookworms

Why are some things easier to remember than others? Why do people have vastly different memories of the same event? Why do most people remember Darth Vader saying, “Luke, I am your father,” when what he really says is, “No, I am your father”? Delve into these questions and more through an investigation into the fascinating world of memory. Learn about the neurobiology of remembering, the phases of memory, the different types of memory, and the assessment instruments that cognitive psychologists use to measure memory while considering one of the most interesting topics in the field: failures in memory. You also explore the phenomenon of forgetting, false memories, and memory disorders such as anterograde and retrograde amnesia.

Worldbuilding

green arrow Grades 7–10
Eligibility: CTY-level verbal score
Prerequisites: None
Meeting options:
      Wednesday – 7 p.m. ET
      Saturday – 9 a.m. ET

Ideal for:
World Adventurers
Bookworms

Fictional worlds often stick with us even longer than the stories set in them. They can be havens or nightmares, futuristic glimpses of what our world could be or looking-glass critiques of what it actually is. But how are these worlds created? Learn about the process of worldbuilding, discussing its techniques and best practices through the lenses of literature, creative writing, game design, anthropology, and history. In addition to building your own world, practice critical thinking and analysis as you look to famous worlds from literature, film, and games to discover what makes worldbuilding successful, meaningful, and ethical. Final projects include designing a travel brochure marketing a world to tourists, a vlog of a visit to another world, or a museum exhibit created by one civilization about a society that preceded it.

New! Problem-based Courses

CTY’s new problem-based online courses blend real-time, collaborative, student-directed learning and independent exploration to solve complex real-world problems. Read more about CTY's problem-based courses.

January 23 – March 20, 2021
Registration Deadline: January 5

illustration of an extraterrestrial cityscape

Colonizing Space:
How to Build an Extraterrestrial City

Course full

green arrow Grades 7–10
Eligibility: CTY-level math or verbal score
Prerequisites: None
Class meetings:
      Saturdays, 9–10 a.m. ET
Small-group working sessions:
      Saturdays, 10–11 a.m. ET
      Wednesdays, 8–9 p.m. ET

Ideal for:
Problem-solvers
World Adventurers

Explore the fundamentals of space travel and civic planning as you develop a strategic plan for building a sustainable city on another planet. For example, what do humans need in space? Consider economic development, environmental adaptation, urban agriculture, and social and political systems as you work with peers to configure a new city that meets the goals of diverse stakeholders. Your capstone project will be an extraterrestrial city you’ll present to a panel for review.

Problem-based course program details

a wind farm

Everything is Connected:
Solutions for a Warming World

green arrow Grades 7–10
Eligibility: CTY-level math or verbal score
Prerequisites: None
Class meetings:
      Saturdays, 8–9 p.m. ET
Small-group working sessions:
      Saturdays, 9–10 p.m. ET
      Wednesdays, 8–9 p.m. ET

Ideal for:
Problem-solvers
World Adventurers

Examine the parameters of climate change, climate science, and policy as you map out humans’ adaptation to global warming. You and your peers will act as scientists focused on solving critical threats as you engineer ecological progress while exploring ecosystems and developing strategies. Your final project of creating a resilience plan for issues such as wildfires, drought, and extreme events must also account for the marginalized communities often ignored in proposed solutions.

Problem-based course program details

Grades 10-12

smiling student holding a book

The following spring courses are for students who are currently enrolled in the grades listed.

Behavioral Economics

green arrow Grades 10–12
Eligibility: CTY-level math or verbal score
Prerequisites: Algebra II. Previous exposure to economics is not assumed; students can build upon any prior experience.
Meeting options:
      Wednesday – 7 p.m. ET

Ideal for:
Skilled Gamers
Young Entrepreneurs
Policy Wonks

Why is it so hard to hail a cab in the rain in New York City? Why do some people pay for annual gym memberships when they would save on a pay-as-you go basis? Integrate ideas from the social sciences with economics to understand how we act, make decisions, and play. Explore and test a range of theories, maybe by using Tversky and Kahneman’s idea of Supposedly Irrelevant Factors to determine their applicability to your life and to qualitatively explain several classic behavioral economics scenarios. Later in the course, after studying E. Cartwright’s analysis of breakfast cereal choice, conduct your own parallel analysis to choose, for instance, a college or a dessert. Individual and group activities provide a thorough introduction to behavioral economics and its implications for public policy.

Boundary Breakers: Storytelling & Social Change

green arrow Grades 10–12
Eligibility: CTY-level math or verbal score
Prerequisites: None
Meeting options:
      Wednesday – 7 p.m. ET

Ideal for:
Policy Wonks
Social Justice Champions

From Selma to Stonewall to the Queer Liberation March for Black Lives in 2020, storytelling and the power of language have shaped the quest for social justice. In this project-focused study of the most pressing issues facing an increasingly divided nation, explore the experiences of black and LGBTQ+ individuals in the United States as you process current events and collaborate on pathways to a more just, equitable future. By analyzing the formation and influence of narratives, you and your peers discuss the role of storytelling in relation to topics like policing, environmental racism, healthcare disparities, transgender/intersex subjectivities, and technology as both a life-giving tool and a surveillance instrument. Put James Baldwin into conversation with Madagascar and Jesmyn Ward’s renderings of a hurricane-wrecked Gulf Coast alongside BLM posters—all to paint a dynamic picture of how and why narrative can be serious business.

Students in these courses will engage in frank discussions of contemporary issues and will use materials typical of college courses. For example, students may view an R-rated film or engage topics of a politically sensitive or controversial nature. All course content will be chosen for its academic value, approached from an academic perspective, and taught with guidance and support from the instructor.

We Make Games: Designing Social Justice

green arrow Grades 10–12
Eligibility: CTY-level math or verbal score
Prerequisites: Algebra II
Meeting options:
      Wednesday – 5 p.m. ET

Ideal for:
Policy Wonks
Social Justice Champions

In 2020, the video game industry generated over 159 billion dollars in revenue, eclipsing all other entertainment media. It takes years of production and a substantial development team to create immersive stories, exciting gameplay, and textured worlds. The interactivity of video games uniquely puts players in the protagonists’ shoes, but with great power comes great responsibility. While video games are increasingly popular across all demographics, underrepresented characters are often absent or depicted simply as stereotypes. Explore the process of developing video games through the lenses of diversity, equity and inclusion as you and your peers critically analyze interactive digital media, write original stories, discuss programmatic and mathematical logic, learn prototyping mechanics, and engage in beta testing.