Frustrated with the restraints of gifted programs in Kansas schools, students of the Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science (KAMS) at Fort Hays State University worked together to compile a database to support gifted educators and students.
"The website is basically a database for gifted facilitators and gifted students to access some resources we thought would help their education and academics," said Tammy Nguyen, KAMS junior and Russell High School student.
Linda Smith, instructor of English, assisted the KAMS students in creating and developing the Kansas Gifted Education Database by orchestrating a feasibility study after the class obtained a Dane G. Hansen grant.
The feasibility study found that the resources and time of gifted facilitators, who travel from school to school to aid in gifted education, were highly limited. "The worst-case scenario I've seen is a gifted facilitator available to work with a gifted student for only 30 minutes once a week because either the travel time is prohibitive or the schools don't have the staff," said Smith.
The students' personal experiences were consistent with their findings. "We weren’t being challenged. Gifted programs are supposed to help highly motivated students who need a challenge, and we found that a lot of us didn't have a gifted program that worked," said Nguyen.
The students divided into four groups -- Web design, photo and video, outreach, and research -- and set to work on completing the website. The website also includes video documentation of their personal experiences with high school education.
The students debuted the database at the KAMS Rural Gifted Forum in Oakley with the help of gifted facilitator Valarie Brown-Kuchar from the Northwest Kansas Educational Service Center.
"I wasn't sure if the website was ready to be presented to so many important people," said Nguyen, "but the fact that they all responded positively and are excited about what we’re doing is really amazing."
The database is easy to navigate: after the user specifies his or her status as student, teacher or parent, the user can select any category of study, such as mathematics or English, and be taken to a series of websites with the appropriate learning activities or programs.
"One thing educators can do," said Smith, "is go to this repository of the best resources, select what they need and then complement or augment what they can do with their gifted students."
They also presented their work at the North-Central Kansas Educational Service Center in Phillipsburg and have been invited to present at the Kansas Gifted and Talented Consortium Summer Seminar in Hays in June.
The work of these KAMS students brings hope to gifted programs in the future. "A lot of us feel an emotional connection with the project," said Kayce Feldkamp, KAMS junior and Nemaha Valley High School student. "We didn't feel like we got the education we should have, which was upsetting."
The database is at www.kged.weebly.com.
KAMS is an early-entry-to-college program that focuses in advanced mathematics and science. While studying at KAMS, students live on campus in the dorms with other KAMS students from across Kansas and around the world. Over the course of two years, students take 68 hours of college credit. These college classes are taken alongside traditional college undergraduates and taught by college professors, while simultaneously contributing to their high school graduation requirements.
KAMS is still accepting applications for the fall semester. Interested students should contact the KAMS office at 785-628-4690 or visit fhsu.edu/KAMS.