Saturday Enrichment Program

In conjunction with the Curry School of Education and Human Development Gifted Education Department, the University of Virginia announces the 40th year of the Saturday Enrichment Program. Traditionally, this program serves gifted and/or high ability students who are in K-5th grade. However, in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Saturday Enrichment Program is adapting the program to serve all interested students in Grades 5-10.  The program will be offered remotely.  Applications for this program will be available on or about September 1, 2020. Please read the application instructions carefully before applying. APPLICATIONS REMAIN OPEN AND ALL APPLICANTS WILL BE GIVEN A SPACE IN THE PROGRAM.

Teachers: download a Saturday Enrichment Program flyer for your students (flyer is for the traditional program).

2020 FALL Program Dates:

October 3, 10, 17, 24, 31, November 7.

2020 FALL Program Location and Cost:

  • The program will be offered online. There is a NON- REFUNDABLE application fee of $25, and tuition for the 2020 Saturday Enrichment Progam is $275. Tuition is non-refundable after September 20, 2020.
  • Most classes will be held for six Saturdays starting October 3 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 pm. 


In this program, our goal is to foster in children intellectual curiosity and a love of learning in a wide variety of fields and disciplines.  Curriculum and instruction are designed to intellectually challenge and engage your child in authentic inquiries into major concepts and big ideas of a field through critical, creative, and problem-based thinking/learning.  At SEP, we recognize that each student is an individual.  To that end, our staff is dedicated to meeting the varying readiness levels, learning preferences, and interests of students in our classes.  Our classes are taught by doctoral students at both the Curry School of Education and Human Development and other departments across Grounds, as well as experts and specialists in these fields.  As a whole, our staff is dynamic, enthusiastic, and excited about working with these young scholars.

Saturday Enrichment Program Fall 2020 Course Descriptions

Grades 5-6

Solar Circuits – Solar Homes

Have you ever wanted a disco ball in your bedroom or a colorful porch light? In this course, you will apply the basics of circuitry to light up LED bulbs, turn them on and off, and even design an electrical plan for your very own home. Using the power of PV solar panels and some planning, you’ll be able to design and build your very own solar home. Additionally, you will not only explore the power of solar energy, but will also research where in the world solar energy is used and where it might become more popular one day. Students will grapple with questions such as:  Should the United States expand current solar energy usage? What is the ideal energy portfolio for a country? Finally, we will discuss the future of PV cells and dream up the next technological advances that will emerge just around the corner. Come build your future home and light up the world around you!

Explorations in Neuroscience 

In Explorations in Neuroscience, we will investigate the form and function of the human brain, such as how the parts of the brain work together. We will also examine what happens when the brain does not work properly. We will delve into our five senses and, if possible, virtually dissect cow eyes (an optional activity) to further examine how the human eye works. Visiting neurologists will teach us about the latest brain research. We will investigate the latest neuroscience findings, teach each other by creating our own brain research lesson, and share our presentations in a culminating research conference. Join us as we play synapse tag, explore the nervous system, and create model neurons in our quest to understand the brain!

Financing Your Future 

Have you ever wondered about investments, money management, or personal finance? How do people save the money to buy houses, cars, or private jets? How could it be possible that people stop working and continue to live a normal life during retirement? In this course, we will simulate a financial life from your first job as a teenager to a plan for your retirement. Along the way, you will learn about the effects, both intentional and unexpected, of major-life decisions like choosing a career, purchasing insurance, or setting aside money for retirement. How are financial choices made? What factors should you consider? In this course, we will pack an incredible 50 years of life into nine days as we employ critical-thinking skills to learn how the financial decisions we make early in life impact important aspects of life down the road.


Grades 7-8

Role Playing Games for Adventure and Knowledge 

Does your alter-ego use spells, stealth, brawn, or their wits to help their adventuring party defeat the goblins, drakes, and undead that lie between you and glory?  Join a notorious band of mighty fighters, rogues, mages, and clerics to see your character’s fortune while you as a player increase your skills in probability, problem solving, collaboration, empathy, and critical thinking.  We will practice life-long skills while playing Dungeons and Dragons, Manifest, Fate and other role-playing games. We’ll also step into the life of the characters you build as you write their backstory, choose the skills that they have developed and then act and improvise your role as part of a team. Opportunities will abound for playing a variety of characters as well as for taking the reins and running sessions as a game master, if you dare.

Introduction to Game Theory 

Math is an important part of our everyday lives. For example, game theory, which involves mathematical models of conflict and cooperation, can be discussed in subjects like economics, political science, psychology, and biology. In this course, you will learn how to use game theory for everything from finding winning strategies for popular games to predicting future events. We will do a number of experiments to discover when it is better to cooperate and when it is better to compete with your colleagues in order to win. In this class, active participation and group work will drive our learning as you gain problem-solving skills, learn how to think strategically, and study how to mathematically depict strategies.

Speak Truth to Power: Public Speaking and Current Events 

This year we have seen many historical events take place, and there are still months to go! Are you interested in talking about issues like Black Lives Matter, the coronavirus pandemic, and the upcoming presidential election? These can be difficult discussions, but this course will help you learn more about the issues and prepare to speak about them confidently. Young people can and do have a significant impact on current events, and I hope you’ll join me in adding your voice to the conversation!


Grades 9-11

Studying, Not Just Watching, Film 

What do you look for in a movie? Edgeofyourseat action, a pinch of emotion, some valuable lesson that is summarized (and delivered with the maximum impact) in the most fitting moment, under the most fitting circumstance, with the most fitting idiom? All of these - action, emotion, and a grand idiomatic truth - are not conveniently available everyone hundred and twenty minutes in the real world. After all, cinema is a sort of heightened realm that seems to offer us what our reality cannot; movies have been called, and will always be called, an escape. But, I don’t go to films to escape from the world. I go to movies to see and look for the world itself.
Though film is a heightened realm, it always says something about our world. It can be some kind of representation, like a mirror, or a window into another society. Perhaps it demonstrates a cultural ideal or anxiety. These ideals, indulgences, windows, and mirrors are all derived from cultures and social environments; movies survey us as much as we survey them. By studying the technical aspects of film, like cinematography, editing, mis-en-scene, and sound, we'll learn how movies are fine tuned to teach us about ourselves. 






How to Apply

Applications will be available no later than September 1, 2020. The deadline for completed applications is September 11, 2020. Consideration will be given to applications made after that date if there are spaces remaining in the courses.  Course assignments will be posted on your child's account on or before September 18.  We will send an e-mail to you when those decisions are posted. Applications received after the deadline will be considered if there are open spots.

Apply Now


All elements of your application must be received on or before September 11, 2020 at midnight. In the application, students will rank their courses.  While we do our best to assign students to a course they have ranked high, we cannot guarantee any course choice.  Check back on the Saturday Student Home page for each child to see that we have received the  completed application and the non-refundable application fee. There will be a green check mark next to each item that we have received. Please don’t hesitate to call or e-mail us at any point during this process with questions or concerns. Application decisions and course assignments will be made by September 18.

If you have any questions about this application procedure or experience any difficulties, please call our office at (434) 924-3182.

To check the status of an existing application, click on the 'Saturday Application' link and sign in with your userid (your primary e-mail address) and the password you established. If you have forgotten your password, you can click on the link to request a password recovery be sent to your e-mail address, or please e-mail us at or call us at (434) 924-3182 and we can help you.

Full or partial scholarships are available for students who are eligible for their school's free and reduced-price lunch, or if other extraordinary circumstances are identified. 

The 2020 Parent Handbook will be available upon acceptance to the program.  Once your child has been accepted to the program, this handbook will answer some questions you may have about program logistics.

We thank you for your support of SEP, which is a nonprofit organization which relies entirely on student tuition for its operation.