Why Choose GEM?

GEM gifted and talented studenst interact with teacher in classroom

The Growing Early Minds (GEM) program, created for our youngest learners completing grades 1-4, is unique in that WCATY offers two opportunities to participate during the year: our traditional week-long summer camp option, and a Winter GEM session spread out over five consecutive Saturdays in February and March. The GEM program is formatted as a two and a half hour instructional block that includes time for hands-on learning activities, interdisciplinary intellectual exploration, free play, and a snack break.

Students are exposed to more advanced concepts to feed their curious minds. Pacing is flexible and differentiated to address individual student learning styles. Each class is small (up to 12 students) and crafted to enrich learning and introduce new areas of interest, helping students expand their knowledge about the world and discover how much there truly is to learn. GEM also gives students the chance to interact with like-minded peers in a safe, nurturing environment. Students will embark on field trips around the UW Madison campus and have the opportunity to engage in group activities. Social and emotional curriculum components focus on fostering autonomy, encouraging the development of a growth mindset, and beginning to developing effective collaboration skills.


My favorite part of my class was exploring and learning new things. WCATY is cool because we get to learn, be kind, friendly, and explore. Thank you for helping me get smarter and for helping me reach my ‘yet’!

GEM Student

Daily Schedule

Time Activity
8:45-9:00am Drop off
9:00-9:15am Large group social/emotional learning activity
9:15-10:15am Class activities
10:15-10:30am Snack
10:30-11:30am Class Activities
11:30am-12:30pm Lunch
12:30-1:30pm Field Trip
1:30-4pm Activities
4pm Student pick up

The GEM winter program is a morning only program (9:00-11:30am). The summer session is set up to be a full day experience to give students the opportunity to explore the UW-Madison campus and engage in related content activities. Please contact the WCATY office for information regarding summer half-day options.


WCATY is cool because it exposed me to new concepts and it allowed me to express my ideas openly in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.

GEM Student

What to Expect?

As a GEM student you will engage in, and be inspired by, an area of your curiosity. You will face new academic challenges with like-minded peers and have the support of your instructor and educational assistant. In the classroom, you will learn to become more independent as a learner and increase your confidence when approaching challenging academic tasks, both individually and in a team. By the end of the program, you will improve your understanding of your strengths, your talents, and yourself. It is our hope at WCATY that you will continue to challenge yourself and grow as a lifelong learner.

View the GEM Student Handbook.

For Parents

Parents will have the opportunity to meet instructors, educational assistants, and WCATY staff on the first day of the program. In addition, Parent Visiting Day is held on the final day of the program and parents are invited to attend their child’s class from 10:45am-11:30am and witness first-hand what their child has been exploring in class.


WCATY is a fabulous opportunity to interact with talented kids and amazing instructors, with a focus on subject matter and challenges that captivate my child’s interest and desire to learn.

GEM Parent

Safety and Security

Students are supervised at all times by educational assistants, instructors, and WCATY staff. It is the expectation that students remain on campus at all times during program hours.

WCATY Instructors

Many WCATY instructors return to teach year after year and bring with them their passion for their chosen fields, as well as their passion for educating advanced learners. Backgrounds of our instructors vary widely—from seasoned classroom educators, to innovative professionals eager to share their knowledge with our students, to aspiring academics seeking to broaden their community outreach skills.