After two years away from campus, the Summer Gifted and Talented Program at Dominican University returned this season with more than 30 course offerings for children.

The four-week program, now in its 35th year, wrapped up on July 22 with about 200 students taking part in a wide range of one-week classes focused on science, math, technology and the creative arts.

The program is staffed by Chicago area teachers, many of whom — like the students — return year after year.

“Even though we are a seasonal program, there are relationships that have been built and cultivated over the years,” said Janie Wu, program director of the Summer Gifted and Talented Program. “It’s a pleasure to be a part of that.”

The program is open to academically gifted students entering grades 2-8. Students with nationally-normed standardized test scores in the 95 percentile or above in the subject area to which they are applying are pre-qualified for admission. Students whose test scores don’t meet the prequalifying threshold may apply by submitting an admission portfolio and their most recent report cards.

Participants who age out of the program have the option to volunteer the following summer as program runners, performing various tasks for the teachers.

Most participants in the program come from the Oak Park-River Forest area, but each summer there are some students from out of state or even out of the country who register for a class while visiting family in the area, Wu said.

And because the program has been offered for more than three decades, multiple generations have passed through it.

“We’re serving the children of children who once attended,” Wu said. “Parents are sending their children so they can have the experience they had.”

Some of this summer’s most popular offerings include courses in chemistry, architecture, and environment and entomology, Wu said.

There are classes about historic change makers, computer game coding, genetics, the history of the superhero, dramatic theater, chess, writing a screenplay, building model rockets and more. A returning favorite was Rubik’s Cube, a competitive cubing course for grades 6-8 that also teaches children about algorithms.

“It’s great having our classes on the university campus because we can take advantage of the equipment and the buildings themselves — especially for the architecture classes,” Wu said.

In 2020, the Gifted and Talented Program was canceled due to the pandemic, while a modified version of the program was held last summer at the Priory Campus.

This summer, class sizes were smaller than in pre-pandemic years, which allowed for social distancing.