World of Wonder brings gifted youth to Bradley campus

August 5, 2011

By Ivy Hillman '12

The second session of World of Wonder was held from August 1-5. It’s a weeklong workshop for students in grades 1-8 who are gifted or talented in the classroom. The program started in 1983 and is put together by the Bradley University Institute for Gifted and Talented Youth. Most classes were taught by area educators and Bradley graduates who were student aides of the program in the past.

One class for the first-graders was called “Bubbles, Bubbles, Bubbles!” The classroom was full of encouragement, from both the instructors and students. The students experimented with making bubbles with their hands. One boy’s first bubble popped, so he tried again.

“You almost got it!” shouted another student, followed by “Woah!” and a round of applause as he successfully blew his next bubble.

The experiments were designed to get the students excited about science. The lesson also incorporated math, as the instructor was using a “Bubble recipe” book that included numbers and measurements.

The first-graders were visibly interested in what they were learning and demonstrated an understanding of the concepts through comical commentary. When their instructor wasn’t able to make a bubble with a different kind of soap solution, the students did not hold back their opinions.

“I’d say there are too many suds,” said one student confidently.

“I’ll try!” offered another student.

One of the fourth and fifth-grade class options was “Novel Making.” The dry erase board in the classroom said one thing: “Work on your story’s PLOT. This is the ACTION part of the story.” Some students were furiously scribbling down ideas while listening to local author Sylvia Shults tell about her adventures in writing novels.

Students seemed to get the most excitement out of listening to Shults talk about her book “Ghosts of the Illinois River.”

“Some of the stories in it are actually my own experiences,” Shults said, inspiring dozens of “oohs” and “ahhs” from the students.

They were hooked as she told stories of a ghost named “Norman” who resides at the Peoria Players Theatre. He is believed to be the ghost of Norman Endean who used to be the director of the theatre and died in the 1960s at a young age. She also told a few tales from her book, as the students begged to hear more ghost stories and even told some of their own.

“I’m so going to buy that book!” shouted one girl.

Every summer, World of Wonder provides students with opportunities they may never have in their own classrooms. The program’s decades-long success is based a commitment to providing learning opportunities in a safe, supportive and thought-provoking environment.