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Programs on LI for academically gifted kids

Benjamin Hayden, third grade from Northport, looks into

Benjamin Hayden, third grade from Northport, looks into a microscope. Students at the private Long Island School for the Gifted, 165 Pidgeon Hill Rd., Huntington Station, range from Pre-K through Ninth grade, and all have IQs of at least 130. Photo Credit: Handout

All Long Island parents think their children are gifted, right? But are yours ready to take classes on a college campus? A number of programs for academically gifted elementary and middle- school kids are offered on Saturdays and Sundays.

Maxine Rhabb of Valley Stream, for instance, has been sending her third-grade son, Larry, 8, to Hofstra University's Saturday Classes for Young People for two years. "School is easy for him. He does his homework in 20 minutes," she says. "I needed something that would engage him and pique his interest in science and math."

Now, those are some bragging rights: "My child takes classes at Hofstra - and he's only 8." Here are some programs and how to get in:

LONG ISLAND SCHOOL FOR THE GIFTED: 165 Pidgeon Hill Rd., Huntington Station, 631-423-3557; lisg.org

The School for the Gifted is a full-time private school, Monday through Friday, dedicated to meeting the needs of students with at least a 130 IQ. It's been around for more than 30 years.

Ages: Pre-K through ninth grade

Cost: Ranges from $11,000 to $14,000 a year. Limited tuition assistance available.

How to apply: Students must take a Stanford-Binet or the Wechsler Intelligence Scale IQ test from a licensed psychologist or professional testing service. Parents then fill out a questionnaire and, if the child qualifies, parents meet with the school, followed by the child visiting for at least one day. Several grades have waiting lists.

How it works: If you live within 15 miles, your child is entitled to transportation by the local school district. If not, several carpools are in effect. "We have people who drive in from Queens every day, and we have people who drive in from Westhampton Beach," says principal Roberta Tropper. The children are with kids their age in the classroom, but they are doing work above their grade level in groups of 15 to 16. They don't face the social challenges they might if they skipped grades, for instance, Tropper says. "We can teach the third-graders algebra, but if they drop their cookie, they're still going to cry," she says. In this setting, social and emotional needs can be met as well as intellectual ones, she says.

LONG ISLAND UNIVERSITY CENTER FOR GIFTED YOUTH: C.W. Post Campus, 720 Northern Blvd., Brookville, 516-299-2160; liu.edu/cwpost/giftedyouth

Ages: Kindergarten through Grade 6

When: 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays, Feb. 5 to April 23

Registration: Open now

Cost: $1,477 for 10 weeks with additional $30 for each science class

How to apply: Students must score 130 on a WISC-IV, WPPSI-III or Stanford-Binet IV IQ test. $25 application fee, as well as recommendations from principal and teacher.

How it works: Kindergartners and first graders are together and assigned a science, math and humanities class. Grades 2 and 3 are together and choose three of five classes. Each is one hour long and averages 15 students. Grades 4 to 6 are together; students choose three of seven classes. Upcoming classes include: "The Robot Age: Rise of the Machine" for grades 2 and 3 and "Communicating in the 21st Century" for grades 4 to 6. First come, first served, so register early, says Vera Savino, office manager.

THE INSTITUTE FOR CREATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING FOR GIFTED AND TALENTED STUDENTS: SUNY Old Westbury Campus Center, 516-876-3261 

Ages: Grades 5-10

Registration: Nomination process starts Feb. 15 for 2011-12

Cost: Free

How to apply: Students must first talk to math teacher or principal for nomination and then take a test in April. The program also looks at an essay, school activities and grades.

How it works: Grades 5 and 6 are together, grades 7 and 8 are in another class and 9 to 10 are in a third class of 25 each. Program is funded by an individual, says mathematics Prof. Jong Pil Lee, founder. The groups meet 9 to 11:30 a.m. on 20 Saturdays between September and March. Students can take the course only once.

For more: Students who have completed the course are invited to a separate Brookhaven National Lab Gifted Mathematics Program, at 2 Center St., Brookhaven. Cost ranges from $135 to $175 to meet one Saturday a month from September to June, says Cindy Lawrence, chief of operations for the developing Museum of Mathematics, who also runs the lab's program. Students used to being the smartest in their classrooms will be with others who perform at the same high level, Lawrence says. Speakers run hands-on programs such as mathematical sculpture. E-mail Lawrence at giftedmath@momath.org.

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