DURHAM: Duke program.helps students plan for the future - WNCN: News, Weather

Program at Duke University helps students plan for the future

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DURHAM, N.C. -

Perhaps you have seen bumper stickers around town that simply say "TIP."

They're proudly displayed on a parent's vehicle because it means their child is academically gifted and accepted into a program for students who are in the 95 percentile in their age group.

TIP stands for Talent Identification Program, and the Futures Institute at Duke University's TIP program is reserved for the smartest of the smart and the highest scoring student.

Students explore an array of areas, including space and technology and what life will be like in the next 20 to 40 years.

"The first few days we created artifacts for the future, which was making a tangible product to show people what we want the future to look like," said Cameo Hazlewood, a TIP camper.

"It's sort of letting your imagination go loose and sharing it to others and building upon it," said camper Josh Gabay.

The classroom is set up to allow students to explore what the future could look like, but also, how they can help shape it.

TIP Futures instructor Stuart Candy said, "The future is not predestined. It’s not pre-written but it is actually a space for this to navigate, understand and make their own decision within."

The Futures is just one segment in a much larger TIP program that scouts the brightest students. They look at rising sixth-grade to 12th-grade students

"We really try to encourage creative and critical thinking through active learning," said Brian Cooper, with Duke TIP program.

The program has reached 2.5 million students in its 34 year history and Cooper says, they have 11,000 students participating this summer alone.

TIP is far reaching and offers "classes that give students the opportunity to study medicine, robotics, nono-technology and media," Cooper said.

Cooper said students seem to have fun since grades are not handed out.

Although Duke is the home-base to TIP, there are similar TIP programs that are held at other universities across the country. There is also a summer studies program in India with plans to expand to China.

"TIP was life changing; one of the best experiences of my life," said Dr. Rachel Newcomb, a TIP graduate. "[The program] probably put me on the path of being a professor because my professors were my role models; my peers were role models."

Newcomb was in the TIP program in the late 1980s. Now she is a cultural anthropology professor at Rollins College in Florida.

"TIP taught me it was OK to be smart," Newcomb said.

And that may be one of the biggest lessons students, who may be socially challenged, can learn.

Although TIP ceremonies showcase talented students worldwide, there is a grand recognition ceremony honoring seventh-graders who have earned SAT and ACT scores equal to or better than 90 percent of college-bound seniors who take the same tests.

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