A young girl works on a science project

Growing Early Minds (GEM)

The Growing Early Minds (GEM) program is designed to inspire and engage students in grades 1–4. Students will be exposed to concepts and themes that feed their curious minds. Social and emotional curriculum components focus on fostering autonomy, encouraging development of a growth mindset and developing effective collaboration skills. GEM is open to all interested students; scholarships are available.


The GEM program was created for our youngest learners and is unique in that we offer two opportunities to participate during the year: our traditional in-person summer camp or a winter session offered over five consecutive Saturday mornings in January and February. There will be two summer sessions. Students can choose to attend the first session, the second session, or both sessions.

GEM students may or may not have been identified as advanced. The program offers any young learner an entry-level challenge and engagement opportunity to discover their interests. It is also designed as a resource and community for parents and students who are searching for a way to stimulate young minds outside of a traditional classroom setting.

Students will be exposed to new concepts to feed their curiosity. Pacing is flexible and offers a combination of synchronous discussions and pre-recorded segments. Each class is small (up to 15 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.

What to expect

As a GEM student, you will engage in — and be inspired by — a subject of interest to you! With the support of your instructor, you will face new academic challenges with like-minded peers, discover how to become more independent as a learner and increase your confidence in approaching challenging academic tasks. By the end of the program, you will have a better understanding of your strengths, your talents and yourself! It is our hope that you will continue to challenge yourself and grow as a lifelong learner.

At a glance

Program Dates

Winter: January 29, February 5, 12, 19 and 26, 2022 from 9–10:30 a.m.

Summer: June 13-17 & June 20-24, 2022


Winter GEM fully ONLINE. Includes live learning and prerecorded segments. Summer GEM in-person on the UW–Madison Campus

Grade Level

For students in grades 1-4

Application Opens

Winter: Application is now closed
Summer: Application is now closed

Apply by

Winter: Application is now closed
Summer: Application is now closed


Early bird rates through January 7

Winter: $200 per session
Summer: $389 per session

Starting January 8

Winter: $200 per session
Summer: $410 per session

Limited financial aid available

Instruction Hours

10 hours of instructional materials

GEM schedule

Winter GEM schedule

The virtual Winter GEM program runs for five consecutive Saturday mornings in January and February. The course features a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning. All synchronous learning meetings take place 9–10:30 a.m. The schedule below is shared to give a general idea of how the Saturday sessions are run. It is subject to change based on the course and daily activities:

Time Activity
9–9:30 a.m. Welcome, information discussions or activities, daily overview
9:30–10 a.m. New course content with interactive activities and group discussions
10-10:15 a.m. Short break, time for clarifying questions or work time
10:15–10:30 a.m. Recap the day, explain homework for the following Saturday

On the last Saturday of the program, GEM classes will feature final project discussions and presentations.

Summer GEM schedule

This is a general overview of the Summer GEM program. Afternoon times are subject to change based on the daily field trip schedule.

Time Activity
8:45–9 a.m. Student drop off
9–11 a.m. Class content
11:30 a.m.–1 p.m. Lunch and recreational activities
1–4 p.m. Field trips/Afternoon activities
4 p.m. Student pick up

How to apply

  1. Look through the course options available and choose your first-choice course for your session(s) of interest. Please note that applications are reviewed on a rolling basis and courses fill on a first-come, first-served basis. Early registration will increase the likelihood of being placed in your first-choice course.
  2. Parents and Guardians, please create an account as your student on our application system, Oracle. Please note: If you are applying on behalf of your student(s), please create the registration account with the student’s information in order to ensure Badger Precollege receives the correct student information. Learn how to create an account here: OSM Create an Account Video.
    Registering multiple students? In our application system please create a separate account for each student. If you’d like to use the same email for each account, please complete the steps below. When you create a user account for each student, you can input an email address of [emailname]@gmail.com for the first student and an email address of [emailname]+1@gmail.com for the second student. This will ensure that all communication from the Oracle system will be sent to the same email address. For further support please email Badger Precollege.
  3. Complete the online application, indicating only your first-choice course as your preferred course. Enrollment in a particular class is not guaranteed as we process applications in the order in which they are submitted, and course availability is subject to change. In the event that a course is closed, you will be contacted by Badger Precollege to select an alternative course. You will also have the option to be placed on a waitlist. Please ensure that you have selected only one course per week.
  4. Submit the application, along with the application fee. You will receive an email confirming your submission immediately and be notified of your acceptance decision via email within 3–4 weeks.

If you are interested in applying for a scholarship, please visit our financial aid page.