On July 5th, twelve-year old Ivey-Elise Ivey packed her bags, loaded up, and set out on an adventure fit for no ordinary sixth grader. Ivey-Elise and her family made the seven-hour trip to Washington University in St. Louis, where the young scholar would spend the week participating in a summer program called “Crisis,” hosted each year by Duke Tip.
Duke Tip (Talent Identification Program) is a pre-ACT testing program that was founded in 1980 by Duke University. The program is often used by local schools as a pre-ACT testing tool.
Through a family connection, Ivey-Elise’s parents were made aware of the Duke Tip program, and immediately seized this opportunity to further their daughter’s education. “That’s our challenge—to find things to challenge her. We’re always looking for outlets for her,” says Ivey-Elise’s mom, Sarah Christen Ivey.
Sarah Christen helped Ivey-Elise fill out an application for Duke Tip and submit the necessary test scores. “I received an acceptance letter via email the next day. I was glad that I didn’t have to wait very long,” says Ivey-Elise.
Through the program, Ivey-Elise was able to take an online class on cryptology (see for yourself if you can decipher the Wikipedia page on this topic) during the school year. The class is one of many offered by Duke Tip that focuses on subjects not normally covered in school. “You go at your own pace. It’s definitely a different way to learn, but it’s really fun,” she explains.
When Ivey-Elise’s family heard about Crisis camp, they knew they had found another opportunity which Ivey-Elise could not miss. So once again, an application was filled out and plans were made for Ivey-Elise to travel to St. Louis and attend Crisis.
Each year at Crisis, participants are faced with a unique experience. This year at the week-long camp, students were challenged to react to a simulated pandemic as if it were real. They divided into groups and began working together to solve the real life scenario that was presented to them. Ivey-Elise was assigned to the Medical Facilities and Acute Care Management team. “My job was to figure out how the doctors would need to handle the patients; how to administer a vaccine, how to organize it, and all the details,” says Ivey-Elise.
She explains that the group called “journalism” made videos each day, and put the end result on YouTube. The video showed what was happening during the scenario and what the doctors did each day. On the last day of camp, parents were able to watch the video and catch a glimpse of what their kids had experienced at the camp.
But it’s not just the educational involvement that goes on at Crisis that makes an impact on the students. It’s also the connections they make with one another. Sarah Christen expresses, “I think the exposure is awesome—for her to be around kids from different places, to be culturally aware. It definitely goes beyond just the learning experience.”
Throughout the week, Ivey-Elise stayed in the Thomas Elliot House. “I fell in love with the campus. I took tons of pictures; it was gorgeous,” she says. The soon-to-be seventh grader also remarks with a laugh, “The food was pretty good too. I wasn’t expecting that.”
During their down time, students played sports, watched movies, and participated in some extra activities. “We did an egg drop using straws, toilet paper, Popsicle sticks, and duct tape,” says Ivey-Elise.
Her team drew inspiration from the architecture of overpasses; they structured the Popsicle sticks and straws similar to that of the column that supports the overpass, and then secured them with the toilet paper and the duct tape. Naturally, Ivey-Elise’s team won the egg drop contest.
When the students returned home from Crisis, the Ebola outbreak was all over the news. “Ivey-Elise was able to apply the problem-solving skills that she had learned at Crisis to this real life situation. She was able to answer questions about how the disease was being contained and why the doctors were doing what they were doing,” says Sarah Christen.
Reflecting back on her experience, Ivey-Elise says, “I feel like I was challenged; I feel like I learned a lot. I really am fortunate to have had this opportunity.” There is no doubt that Ivey-Elise was blessed with an extraordinary experience—but maybe that’s because she’s no ordinary twelve-year old. 78