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Frequently Asked Questions about Explore


It seems like the Davidson Institute and Davidson Academy understand that age is not indicative of ability level, so why do the online courses have age ranges for applicant eligibility?

While age and ability do not necessarily correlate, it’s been our experience that profoundly gifted students in the posted age ranges have been the most successful in our courses.

When do students need to fall in the age range for each course?

Students need to be in the age range when the course begins at the end of August.

Class Structure

Will the courses have live sessions or utilize pre-recorded videos?

All courses have weekly, hour-long live sessions via Zoom videoconferencing in addition to asynchronous online learning activities throughout the week. The schedule for the synchronous sessions is available on the Courses page.

How many students will be in each class?

Courses are usually around 15 students or fewer.

Will the courses be semester or year-long courses?

All of the courses will be for a full academic year, mid-August through mid-May. 

When do we know the academic calendar?

Our courses run on the same academic calendar as the University of Nevada, Reno. They release their final calendar in late July before the start of the academic year. 

Is there an orientation for new students?

Yes. The orientation takes place one week before the start of classes. The orientation will be at the same date and time as the live session.

My student wants to take an Explore course for an enrichment opportunity, is that acceptable?

While we certainly encourage students to seek opportunities for enrichment, Explore courses are full content courses and have a similar level of rigor as courses at Davidson Academy Online. We have found that students who are successful view the courses as an integral part of their education, rather than supplemental courses.

How much time per week should be allocated for this class?

Students in these courses spend one hour a week in live session and on average about five to seven hours total each week working on their course. Please see the Course Descriptions page for recommended hours for each course.

My student has multiple after-school activities and may have schedule conflicts with live sessions. Is Davidson Explore able to work with us on scheduling?

Attendance is required for Davidson Explore courses. Students must be logged in from an academically appropriate area for the duration of the live session to be marked present. Excessive absences and/or tardies may result in dismissal from the program. Please check the live session schedule and only sign up for courses that do not conflict with other activities. 

Are the courses self-paced?

Courses are not self-paced, but they are designed for young, profoundly gifted students who have some variation in their preparation. Individual attention will be available throughout the courses to ensure success of all participants.

Will students have the opportunity to collaborate with their classmates?

Yes. Participants will interact with peers through a variety of course activities. It is our goal for this to be an engaged and inspired community of gifted learners.

How will the labs work in the science classes?

The science courses will include hands-on labs. These are typically in the form of lab kits that are mailed directly to each student. Depending on the lab, the students may work through parts of the lab during live sessions, or the teacher may provide lab goals and instructions in Blackboard for students. Some labs may require students to record themselves doing parts of the lab. Our goal is to ensure that the online science courses have the same level of depth and rigor as our face-to-face courses.

Course Content

Do you have syllabi and a list of texts that will be used for the courses?

Explore courses follow the philosophy of Davidson Academy Online, where instructors often adapt the courses to the specific learning needs of the students. Additionally, almost all of our courses incorporate a variety of resources and primary sources instead of relying on a traditional textbook. Therefore, we do not release text titles or detailed syllabi prior to the start of the academic year. Please see the detailed course descriptions.

Are Explore courses aligned to the Common Core State Standards?

Our courses focus on depth and application of concepts designed to engage profoundly gifted students. This often means that the content is beyond the Common Core grade level designations, although the content for most of the topics in our core courses are identified in the Common Core State Standards.

What textbooks or lab supplies are required for the course?

Please refer to the course description for each course for the appropriate answer for this question, as it varies by course.


Are Explore courses offered for credit?

Explore courses are offered by the Davidson Institute and do not earn credit from the Davidson Academy Online. The Explore team will support parents as they work with local schools to have our courses accepted in lieu of a more traditional course. While we cannot guarantee that any local school will accept Explore courses, we have been successful with several schools providing time during the school day for students to work on our courses or replacing a traditional course with an online course. If you are interested in this option, please email for more information after you have received your acceptance. 

What type of support should parents expect to be providing at home?

Parents should expect to help their students develop routines to work in their courses, interact with teachers at the same level that they would in traditional courses, and reach out to teachers through all of the tools available (synchronous lessons, email, discussion boards, office hours, etc.). Parent supervision may be required in supporting students to help them turn in assignments on time. Parents will have separate Canvas logins which they can use to access course orientation videos, course materials and other pertinent information such as assignment due dates. 

Will the rigor or expectations change now that the courses are open to all qualified students and not exclusively for Davidson Young Scholars?

Absolutely not. We are using the same curriculum-based assessment to ensure that all accepted students are appropriately placed in each course. 

Can I get a list of technology specifications for the course?

Our courses are designed to work on most devices, but we highly recommend a desktop or laptop computer running either Windows or Mac OS for most coursework. Mobile devices and Chromebooks are appropriate for those rare occasions when a student needs to access a live session outside of his/her normal work space, but may provide a more limited experience. We will check out a drawing tablet to students as some courses will require handwritten work, and these tablets may be unusable or of limited use without a Windows or Mac based device. We use the Canvas learning management system for course delivery, Microsoft Office 365 and GSuite for Education for productivity software, and Zoom for live sessions. Students will need a web camera and noise canceling microphone or headset for live sessions. Since our live sessions do use audio and video streaming, a robust Internet connection is recommended. Algebra I students must have a graphing calculator.

What type of internet connection is needed?

Our students report that using a computer that is connected to the Internet via an ethernet cable with a DSL, broadband, cable, or fiber Internet access provides for the best online learning experience during live sessions. Wireless Internet access or other types of Internet connectivity are acceptable for asynchronous learning activities. For more information on different Internet access types please visit this page

Application Process

I registered my student for a course, but the decision letter came back with an acceptance for a different course. What happened?

We use the online assessment to determine appropriateness of fit. Our goal is to place students in their first choice course, but in some cases there may be a more appropriate course for the student in the same subject area.

Online Assessment Course

I read about the online assessment course on the application. Can you tell me more about this? Is it required?

The online assessment course is a required part of the Explore application. The online assessment is conducted in our learning management system, Canvas, and is designed to help applicants determine if online learning is right for them. At the same time, the activities completed in the online assessment course give our Assessment Team some authentic work samples to review to help determine goodness of fit.

Applicants complete an assessment in each subject area for which they are applying. Below is the format for each assessment:

  • English: Applicants read a short story and respond to prompts in a short essay.
  • Math: Applicants take a non-calculator, computational, timed test. Applicants must show their work on an answer document and submit their answer document along with the test.
  • Science: Applicants take a short response timed test.

If you are looking for information about Davidson Academy Online for students living anywhere in the U.S. and Canada, please visit the Davidson Academy website

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The teacher is amazing . . . Her sense of humor, timeliness, feedback, and depth of experience is absolutely stellar. My student LOVES this class. She feels like she's finally being asked to think critically and seriously, and she is in her element. The teacher, thankfully, has a lovely ability to be direct, thorough, and supportive for our daughter. I can't recommend her highly enough! This class is terrific.