Academic Talent Development Program (ATDP)Community Subscriber
MAKE SUMMER COUNT! UC Berkeley's Academic Talent Development Program (ATDP) offers challenging summer courses for highly motivated young scholars. For over 40 years the program has invited students to attend from the Bay Area and around the world. Online classes are also available for remote learning.
The Secondary Division provides accelerated and enrichment courses for students completing Grades 7 to 11. It is held for four or six weeks on the UC Berkeley campus. The Elementary Division offers exciting and immersive classes for students completing Kindergarten to Grade 6. It is held for three weeks at Washington Elementary in Point Richmond.
Apply early- late applications considered based on availability. Financial aid offered to qualifying families.
Hi- parent of two STEM focused girls aged 16 and 11 here. We never did Firecracker but did do Berkeley Math Circle and there are girls there- certainly comfortable enough for both my kids (who also wouldn't want to be the only one). I'd suggest checking out the Academic Talent Development Program offerings through UCB for the summer as well- my girls both did STEM programs there with good gender ratio. The UCB SWE science program is really fun and the students who help with the program are usually women (this is for when your child gets a few years older). Also, in middle school I would highly recommend the Girls in Engineering Camp- this year I had both a camper and a counselor and they both loved it. I think that often the gender ratio in the programs is good, but the level and comfort of participation might not be as balanced. That's where skilled teachers, confidence, small groups, etc... are helpful. My daughters have done all the above, are not the most vocal participants in class, and are still saying Math is their favorite subject and want to pursue applied math/science, so nothing has turned them away from it.
This is just a bit more -- the math/science programs at ATDP always had a good representation of girls in the classes.
My son did a Python class last summer with ATDP that he thought was well done.
Our local high school's programming teacher recommended CodeHS, which has online classes at the elementary, middle and high school level. At the moment, my son is independently doing a more advanced Python class offered by CodeHS and is enjoying it. The cost of the class is pretty reasonable and comes with online support.
Came here to second ATDP!
Sometimes ATDP has good summer writing classes. We had good luck with 826 Valencia, in San Francisco. In high school, there is the State Summer School for the Arts, which is at Cal Arts. That was a wonderful program, where the teachers really understood how to create a space for young people to write. They are starting a writing workshop at the San Pablo Branch of the Contra Costa County library. There is also a student writing workshop at the Mill Valley Library. Ideally, you will find workshop/class led by a writer, rather than someone who wants to "teach" and focuses on the kind of goals that are necessary in school, but aren't helpful in creative writing.
I know the feeling. My daughter loves science. We found ATDP (https://atdp.berkeley.edu/) to be a wonderful summer program for science lovers. I think their registration for the upcoming summer is open already. QuantumCamp (https://www.quantumcamp.com/) has been a great resource for us as well. If you are interested in tutoring, check out Bay Area Tutoring Collective (https://bayareatutoring.weebly.com/): a group of female Cal students who provide reasonably priced high quality tutoring in math and science. Lawrence Hall of Science has classes and camps (https://www.lawrencehallofscience.org/visit/camps_and_classes)- it has been a long time since my kids did any of those, so not sure about their quality at this time.
Hope this helps!
As you research various summer options, do be sure to consider that fitting an entire academic year worth of material into just a few weeks can be stressful (especially if the instructor isn't really so skilled). Our daughter did a math class through ADTP one summer (geometry, I think - it was a while ago now) - and it almost ruined her (and our) summer. At one point she asked if she could drop out. After discussing the implications of each option, we left it up to her to decide if having one class take all of her time/energy/effort was worth it - and she ultimately decided to finish (leaving it up to her did reduce the stress level somewhat, I think). I don't recall what grade she ended up with, and if it mattered in her future plans, but she did eventually graduate from high school, college, and graduate school, so I guess she survived. your daughter may not have the same experience, obviously, and I imagine it will vary somewhat with the instructor.
My 11yo son is signed up for the Bay Area Writing Project, which is run by UCB and will be held at School of the Madeleine in Berkeley. They focus on creative writing. It's a 3 week, 9a-12 noon program. If you need a full day program, look into ATDP and its writing program (and other topics) in Richmond. It's more academic and encompasses a variety of writing disciplines; it's supposed to be excellent. Good luck with your budding writer!
My daughter took the Cognitive Neuroscience class via ATDP (courses for high school students offered on the Berkeley campus) one summer and really got a lot out of it. Worked insanely hard. Professor Bulakowski was great.
https://atdp.berkeley.edu/sd/catalog/#course-id-8659 -- looks like one section is full and the other is almost full.
Archived Q&A and Reviews
ATDP Secondary Division for Younger Kids
Favorite ATDP Course for 4th Grader?
My daughter took both Art and Science of Math and Fluid Physics (she applied for Math as a younger student). In her words: Art and Science of Math was more intellectually stimulating and involved more problems that might come up in an everyday situation. The most memorable project from math was a group project to figure out the best way to plan resources for a community, including things like routing the plumbing, and developing and keeping to a budget. The big physics project was designing a boat and subjecting it to speed/weight tests. She's in 7th grade now, if that helps. Lisa
ATDP Fun with Math Summer Program Kindergarten
I'm interested in hearing feedback from parents whose children have attended the ATDP Fun with Math summer program for kids completing Kindergarten. I have a very bright almost 6-year-old and am wondering if the program will be a fit for her. She's extremely bright and learns quickly but she can also be emotionally intense. She has an aptitude for math and enjoys it but her strongest interests are reading and art. She also has some sensory challenges where it's best if instructors can be somewhat flexible and work with her needs (provide daily schedule, give one on one instructions when possible, etc - nothing crazy). Do you see the program accommodating this? What was the ratio of boys to girls and teachers to kids? (I know my daughter would be turned off by group of mainly boys.) Do the children get outside/take breaks? How often? Did your children find it fun/engaging (even if they aren't math obsessed)? How was the group socially? We're kids friendly? Quiet? (My daughter is very social.) How are the instructors? What are their ages/experience? Thanks! Looking for right camp
Both my boys attended and had a great time (now 10 and 15). You have to be ''accepted'' and I noticed that as the years went on the children became increasingly smarter. With that, some socialization went out the window since the children were more interested in academics. Overall, it’s a good program, the little ones take breaks, have recesses, and the teachers are well trained and engaged. Felicia
Re: Math Camp for Rising 1st Grader
Check out the Fun with Math! class offered through the ATDP program: http://atdp.berkeley.edu/about/ed/catalog/ My daughter really enjoyed it last year.
Alternatives to ATDP?
I love all the comments about the Academic Talent Development Program. But the price tag is staggering. I'm sure it's worth the money but 4 half days for $700. I only see positive posts on BPN. Anyone disappointed with the program? Can someone recommend another academic camps? - mom of 2
You didn't mention it, so I assume you know the program is three weeks? My kids are older now (as a matter of fact, oldest did the secondary program last summer on the Cal campus), but we did it for several years and I always felt it was well worth the money. You might not agree, but wanted to make sure you had all information. ATDP fan
My son enjoyed his Chemistry classes with Dr. Paul Daubenmire. It was a lot of homework, but he learned a lot at the end of the camp. On the other hand, he had a bad experience with the Expressive Art Through Drawing classes. The instructor was very boring. At the end of each class, students walked out looking very miserable. So, I think the quality of ATDP greatly depends on the instructor. Parents paid a lot of money for the camp and students are there eager to learn. ATDP mom
I have heard many things about ATDP, but it's not even something we can consider, since I work, and can't drop everything in the middle of the day to run all the way to Richmond and pick up my child. Plus it's expensive. I can't remember the specifics of your question, but if I recall correctly, you were looking for academic alternatives. I do know Head Royce has academic summer school, where the kids usually have classes in the morning, and more recreation in the afternoon. -Good luck in your search
Editor: Camp Galileo was also recommended.
Re: Science & Math Camps that Girls Actually Attend
My daughter is a rising 6th grader and definitely a math/science kid. We also live in Oakland. We also do a lot of afterschool enrichment (Berkeley Math Circle, she did a year of the QuantumCamp afterschool classes and camps, etc.)
Don't discount ATDP, even from Oakland. The camps are really, really good. And balanced, gender-wise for both students and teachers. My daughter has gone for three years and really enjoyed it. And if you pair it with the Cal camp in the afternoon, you have a whole day. There are also a lot of opportunities for carpooling from Oakland, minimizing the drive time. We had a full (!) carpool of 5 kids in Montclair/Piedmont, but even after that was arranged I got a half-dozen calls from other parents looking for carpools. LH
I know you said that the ATDP commute seemed a bit much, but I will put in a plug anyway. My sixth grade girl (going into 7th next week) did the trig program this summer and really got alot out of it. Although it was predominantly boys there were many girls as well. We combined it with the 6th grade writing program, (she didnt want to do the Cal Adventures camp), which made for 4 full days. We carpooled from Oakland with another family (alternating pick up and drop off). Although it IS out of the way, most days the commute was around 20 mins each way. It is a serious program (day one was rough, she wasnt sure she was properly prepared with her public school math background)but the teacher and assistant were excellent and she now has a much greater appreciation and understanding of math principals and is looking forward to doing the program next year (on the Berkeley campus). I can't speak for the science program, but we were very happy with the math and writing. Worth the commute
My daughter is going into 8th grade in the fall. She is wanting to take an ATDP class on U.C. Berk campus this summer. Does anyone have any feedback on this program? My daughter is pretty academic. She did an anatomy and bio class last summer on the Washington campus at pt Richmond and liked it. Thank you! amy
My son took ATDP chemistry at Cal as a rising 8th grader, though it was awhile ago. He was an ATDP veteran, had done courses for several years and really liked them. He's also very academically focused. He did very well in the course, though he put in a lot of study hours. The ATDP courses at Cal have higher academic expectations than the courses for younger kids held at Washington School. The course was academic and he enjoyed it but it wasn't 'fun' in the same way as the courses at Washington School. But he liked taking a 'real' science class. My son was the youngest in his course by more than a year, some of the other students were several years older. His instructor commented on the age gap in the course completion report but commended my son for getting along well with the other students and behaving appropriately despite the age difference. So the big differences between ATDP at Cal vs Washington School are more academic courses and other students may be older than your rising 8th grade daughter. former ATDP mom
Be sure that your child REALLY wants to spend a good part of his summer doing rigorous academic work. My son did well in ADTP but after one summer said ''never again''. He wanted to do other things like work at summer camp or independent pursuits, such as his music group - something while enriching was DIFFERENT than ''just more school, mom''. Karen H.
Try ATDP for the summer, the Academic Talent Development Program that's run by UC Berkeley's school of education. Google ATDP and it will come up right away. http://atdp.berkeley.edu/
My kids have done the writing courses for years, and the creative writing class in third grade is especially rewarding and valuable. Heather MacLeod is teaching it again, I believe, and she is a wonderful, warm, encouraging, and thoughtful teacher. Both kids have learned so much and love to write!
Good luck - the application process is a bit complicated, and the deadline is in March, so best get started as soon as possible. You won't be sorry, it's been great for our kids. Parent of writers
My daughter attended ATDP the summer after 3rd Grade and took a wonderful writing class for 3 weeks with Heather MacLeod called Author's Corner. Here's the link for ATDP http://atdp.berkeley.edu/about/overview/ The application process is somewhat onerous but my kids have loved EVERY class they have done so far! And Heather is a dynamic and inspiring teacher!
For my daughter the class really put her on the road to considering herself a writer. She is now 10 and is an editor for a kid's magazine called Our Words Magazine ourwordsmagazine.com Maybe your son would like to submit a piece to the next issue, deadline March 1st )
Heather also teaches small writing groups. Good luck! Kristine
Is ATDP for top-tier students only?
I was wondering if someone has used the UC Berkeley Summer ATDP Program. I will have 3rd and 6th graders/girls next summer and I am interested in sending them to this program. The younger one works above grade level and exceeds in math and loves sciences. The older one struggles a little academically. She works very hard to achieve average grades, but she is a hard worker. (1) I am wondering if this program is for top tier academic students or can any child attend it? (2) If your child attended it, did he or she enjoy it and would you send him/her again? (3) Did it help with the academics the following year? (4) How was the social environment for the child during the hours that he/she was there? Thank you. Lisa
My oldest boy has attended ATDP summer camp twice, following K and gr 3. The youngest has done K.
I think, academically, it is a great program. I like the intensive study on a particular subject for an extended period. Other science camps in the area tend to do one project a day, then move on to another. I also like how they study the topic in different ways: through books, hands-on 'labs,' with art and songs (esp. for younger kids), etc. My kids have done oviparous animals & tidal pools (K) and the anatomy/ dissection class (gr 3). It was amazing what they learned! My youngest became a true tidal pool expert and was thrilled when he could teach his parents things when we visited the coast, and the older child was doing more dissections & anatomy than I ever got at high school (and never in elementary school).
The two main drawbacks to the program: the times are horrible for working parents, and my eldest did not enjoy the Cal sports camp option, so I only did that once. The oldest was also not thrilled with the idea of doing homework during summer. In fact, the homework wasn't much and not hard, but cajoling your child to do it is annoying.
In terms of getting in, ATDP staff could answer better. It *is* a competitive process (indeed, a bit over the top - it feels like college application in some ways!). For younger kids, I believe the teacher's letter is very important so it depends on whether the teacher sees your child as bright or not. From my (brief!) view, the kids in the classes were good, but they weren't all geniuses. ATDP parent
My daughter attended atdp last summer as a rising 1st grader (took the session on tidepools). She loved it. The curriculum & teaching were great & the social aspect seemed fine. She was not as happy with the extended care provided by the Cal youth sports camps, but the ATDP program seemed first rate. We will definitely be returning this year. Camille
See responses below to your questions:
(1) I am wondering if this program is for top tier academic students or can any child attend it? *Our child is A/B student generally, but the application process required an essay also, as I recall. Also, during orientation, above all, what I remember, was the director saying specifically that ATDP is NOT camp. I took that to mean that the children are expected to work, and do homework if required.
(2) If your child attended it, did he or she enjoy it and would you send him/her again? *Our child did enjoy it, and I believe the class ultimately helped him in his next grade level. We plan on sending him again.
(3) Did it help with the academics the following year? *Absolutely!
(4) How was the social environment for the child during the hours that he/she was there? *Not sure how to answer this, as we really weren't there for the social aspect. It's like any class, sometimes everyone gets along famously, and other times, there's a chance for conflict resolution.
At no time did I have concern over bullying, or the program tolerating inappropriate behavior, if that's what you mean.
Great program, glad we found it, it's NOT camp, it's academic, but delivered in a fun, engaging way. Hope that helps. happy parent w/atdp
Re: Academic summer program for 9 year old
UC Berkeley has a great program- Academic Talent Development Program (ATDP). It's an excellent, three week, accelerated academic program. Definitely worth checking out. Kids can pick from a variety of classes, (one class for the entire session) organized by grade/age. Classes are 1/2 day and you can supplement with a UC sports camp on site, for a full day. Last year my 9 year old son took an anatomy class. They dissected fresh eyeballs and other animal organs provided by a local butcher. Melissa
Re: Summer Camp with academic focus for 8 year old?
The Academic Talent Development Program at UC is great. The application deadline just passed, but it's possible that not all the classes for his age are full. It's the last 3 weeks of July. atdp.berkeley.edu
Re: Summer camp w/academics for incoming 6th grader
not sure if this meets your exact criteria but check out ATDP (academic talent development) a UC Berkeley summer program with academic topic choices for each grade level... held in Pt. Richmond. Our daughter is younger but loved the class she took last year. They have to apply, get recs., and do homework but it is also felt fun and low stress. chris
Re: Physics & engineering for 8 y.o
Check out Cal's Academic Talent and Development Program [ATDP], run by their school of ed. My 2 kids had a great time last year.
You might be interested in ATDP, run by UC Berkeley. See http://atdp.berkeley.edu/elem.geninfo.html Betty
Google the ATDP (Academic Talent Development Program?)summer camp offered by UC Berkeley and usually held near Richmond Annex or Point Richmond (I think). My friends kids like this program and there is a bunch of hands on opportunities for working with science. I think a kid who likes mechanical stuff would find this program interesting. You do need to apply and perhaps get a teacher's signature. Look for it online, and in the archives of this site. Science Mom
Can anyone tell me what their experience has been with these classes for 9th graders. My daughter is thinking of taking Marine Biology, which meets 2 days a week with 4-6 hours of homework per class. My question is.... is this really a hard pushing academic class? When she was in 6th grade she took a math class which was really fun. I'm wondering if she really needs to be taking a tough class during summer vacation. thanks much.
My son had great experiences with the ATDP program the summers after 6th, 8th and 10th grades. In the latter 2 summers, he was in the secondary division and took 2 day per week/5 credit afternoon classes on the Berkeley campus. The 5 credit classes, like the one probably being considered by your daughter, are much less demanding timewise than the 10 credit/3 day per week classes. My son was able to sleep late every day, go to his afternoon class 2 days a week, complete the 4 to 6 hours of class prep two other days, then have one whole weekday and the entire weekend off (15 - 20 hrs. of work per week spread over 4 days). So, my kid liked it, had plenty of time off, slept late, played lots of video games, but still had a light, built-in academically oriented structure 4 days a week for 6 weeks. I think he also liked taking classes on the UC campus, taking the bus, and eating on Telegraph or Euclid with all the UC summer students around. Each kid's tolerance for summer academics is different, but I would guess that the schedule is pretty comfortable for students who like academics and aren't trying to do a lot of other activities on top of ATDP. Good luck! ATDP mom
Does anyone know about the gifted summer camp program at UC Berkeley ? We are thinking about signing up our son. He's 9 (4th grade) and very advanced in math. Does anyone here have experiences with that program ? Kim
We were not impressed with the program about which I think you ask - ATDP (Academic Talent Development Program). Over the course of two summers both of my very bright sons took classes there and they didn't feel that it was anything much different from their regular public school. The drive (at least from our neighborhood in Oakland) is a total schlep and it is pricey also. Disapointed
I checked the website and saw a lot of recommendations for K-2s who had enjoyed the ATDP. I have a 5th grader (6th next year) and am considering the program for him. Although he is an excellent student, he is not thrilled with the idea of spending three weeks this summer in ''school.'' I'm worried that he might not find the program fun. Does anyone have any experiences specifically with the following 5th grade programs and/or instructors: Lab Chemistry (Brandon Delp), Patterns and Functions in Mathematics (Cirilla Howard), Readers' Workshop: Literary Analysis and Metacognition (no instructor yet), or Energy (Steve Monson). We are unfortunately constrained to morning sessions only. Also, how did people manage carpooling to Pt. Richmond? Does the program help you find carpools?
My son has been participating in ADTP for several years and loves it! It's always his program of choice for the summer and he picks out the class he wants to take. He took Lab Chemistry with Brandon Delp last year and learned a lot and had a great time. He's taken a class from Steve Monson and another class in which Steve was the assistant and had good experiences. He's had good experiences with all of the ATDP instructors. While ATDP is an academic program the courses are presented in such a way that they are interesting and engaging. All of the classes seem to have a lot of hands-on activities. They do have nominal amounts of homework but it's intended to reinforce what is covered in class and it doesn't take much time. annon
Our daughter had enjoyed ATDP in earlier years and is an avid (voracious even) reader, but found ''Readers' Workshop: Literary Analysis and Metacognition'' booooring last year. It might be better with a different teacher, since I do not believe that literature was actually the specialty of last summer's instructor. That aside, the other programs she's attended have been more fun than ''school'' although she learned a lot as well. Reader's Dad
To our terrible disappointment, our daughter would not return to ATDP after the first year. We thought it was great (notwithstanding the logistical difficulties of getting there and back). But she was very clear: To her it was three more weeks of school, and she wanted to have a ''real'' summer. Dawn
ATDP for kindergartener
My son's kindergarten teacher has recommended that we send him to one of the summer classes offered through the UC Academic Talent Development Program. Can anyone who has send a kindergartner/first grader to the program tell me what the program for that age group is like? The only review on the web site is regarding a high school student's experience. Would you recommend it? Did your kids like it? What is it like? How is it structured? The concept of an academic summer program for a six year old gives me pause. Thanks!
ATDP has wonderful classes. Yes, they're kind of academic, but all the teachers our daughter (who started as a kindergartener) has had in their claases have been energetic and made the subjects fun. I would not be scared away by the academic label at all. Location in Pt. Richmond is not as convenient as the former location in a school near El Cerrito Plaza BART, but it's still a wonderful program. If you decide to do it, better move quickly since I think the deadline is coming up soon. a Dad
My son went to ATDP the summers after 2nd and 3rd grade. The first year he took geology and loved it. The second year he took physics and liked it less. He also went to the sports camp associated with ATDP, so he was there for the full day. He went strongly objecting to the sports camp, but actually enjoyed many aspects of it-- martial arts, team sports, arts and crafts. In geology, they made models of the earth, of fault lines, and finally of a volcano, using techniques that ensured that they understood about contours and mapping as well as the geology. They learned about lots of different kinds of rocks. In physics they built Rube Goldberg machines. Actually, it was a family project we built at home. Probably the hardest thing for my son in adjusting to the program was that it was at a new school with no one he knew. However, he made friends, particularly in the sports camp. You can send me e-mail if you have other questions. Cynthia
My son took one of the ATDP kindergarten classes two summers ago. If you have the opportunity to take advantage of this program, you should. My son studied oviparous animals, and the course was both stimulating and challenging--he talked about it all the time and he looked forward to going. The teacher was absolutely fantastic. There is enough variety (reading, writing, art, computer projects, study trips, class projects) that he didn't get bored. The classes meet 4 days a week for 1/2 day (students can also enroll in an optional recreation program for the other half of the day), and there are plenty of breaks. On Wednesdays there are exploration classes (an additional charge); we only did this once, though--my son is quite shy and meeting new kids is hard, so the Wednesday classes, which were comprised of students from a variety of classes, didn't work so well for him. The elementary program is held at Washington School (at the end of Richmond Parkway) so we had to adjust our commute schedule to make sure he got to the program on time, and parking around the school is pretty difficult, so if you plan to enroll, arrive early for pick up and drop off. Yvette
re-UC Academic Talent Development Program - For program specifics see their website: http://www-atdp.berkeley.edu/ My son has attended for several years, he started the summer after 2d grade. He loves it and looks forward to attending every summer. He chooses the class he wants to take, not me. The classes are 1/2 day, with a morning recess, four days/week. The classes are pretty academic, teachers are excellent, and if your child is interested in Geology, Simple Machines, Photography or Lab Chemistry or whatever, they will have a blast. My son took Geology as a 2d grader, he absolutely loved it and learned alot. The teachers do an incredible job of introducing the class to the subject in an interesting and engaging way. Both the kids and the teachers seem to really like the opportunity to spend 4 weeks focused on one subject. There is a small amount of daily homework. The classes work toward a final project of some sort and there is a day at the end of the session where the classes present their projects. It's amazing to see what they've spent 4 weeks working on. There is also a schedule of fun, optional one-day classes for the fifth day. There is a sports program to fill out the day if you need a full day program. The sports program was quite poorly run a few years ago when we first participated, but seems to have improved significantly since then though I'm not sure I'd enroll a to-be first grader.
My children went to the program after Kindergarten and enjoyed it. They are in 4th grade and we will return this year and have gone every year in between. The teachers are great and the classes are age appropriate- -for kindergarten the choices are rocky reefs and tide pools or oviparous eggs. Deadline to apply is March 29th. Check out www.atdp.berkeley.edu. barbaramann
Both of my children have attended summer camp at ATDP for the past 2-3 years, and they both have enjoyed it very much. It's not so much
Re: summer programs for 15-year-old
I would recommend the Summer Academic Development Program here on campus. Their web site is: http://www-atdp.berkeley.edu/ My daughter took classes two summers in a row. She adored it. Her taking a class in mythology totally turned her around and gave her the direction she needed. She's now a college freshman classics major. If you have a child who is very bright but is turned off to the social aspects of high school this program gives them an opportunity to really study something of their own choosing and be around kids who are there for the sake of learning.
Re: Math enrichment classes for 6-year-old
Check out UC Berkeley's Academic Talent Development (ATDP) program. It's a summer program, and although the deadline for applications has passed, they still will accept applications for classes that have not yet filled. For course descriptions of Fun with Math (for those who have just finished Kindergarten) and The Joy of Math (for those who have finished 1st grade), To inquire about course availability, you should call the ATDP office. The staff is wonderful and will be happy to help. Ilana
My daughter, who is now a junior, attended this program last summer. She got into her second choice class, mythology. She adored her class and really got along great with the instructor. She also enjoyed meeting kids from other high schools. As a result of the class, she had a real advantage over her current classmates in English Lit and European History, because both courses covered certain aspects of mythology. And, she can answer all the Jeopardy mythology questions! She is reapplying for this coming summer. We both highly recommend the program. Olga