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Students will select one of three academic areas of focus, which involves four and a half days of instruction and hands-on learning. Participants create an end-of-session project from their seminar coursework.

These project-based academic seminars are taught by Davidson Academy instructors and take place on the University of Nevada, Reno campus. Students will be provided a short evaluation of their work, which may include accomplishments and areas of growth. 

Students rank their preferred seminar topic in the application. Seminar placement is assigned on a first-come, first-served basis, so we recommend applying early.

2023 Seminar Topics

The Biomechanics of Animal Locomotion

Most animals move from place to place during their lives as they search for food, shelter, and mates. Throughout evolutionary time, animals have developed fascinating solutions to burrowing, swimming, walking, and flying. Bound by the restraints of physics (gravity, friction, energetics), yet unleashed by the power of evolution over eons, the solutions to the problem of movement are incredibly diverse. In this seminar, we will delve into the biomechanics of animal movement by focusing on the various strategies animals employ to move through their environment. Topics include the musculoskeletal systems, basic cell energetics, animal diversity, hydrodynamics, and aerodynamics. Students will summarize their learning through a project that asks them to create and test animal forms that maximize efficiency in a given environment.

Instructor: Martin Braik

Making a Mystery: inspiration and innovation in the genre

Join us for a focus on current and classic stories with intriguing mysteries at heart. We’ll add lots of inspiring tales full of questions, clues, puzzles, and adventure to your reading list as we explore conventions of the mystery genre. You’ll develop your own story ideas and learn how to ramp up the excitement with great characters, page-turning plots, intriguing suspects, and more. This course will offer an introduction to understanding and applying the conventions of mystery stories, developing well-rounded and interesting protagonists, collecting and trying out story ideas, developing compelling character arcs, pre-planning effective chapters and story "beats," making thoughtful language choices to enhance the desired mood, and applying strategies for reflection and revision. Finally, you’ll take your favorite ideas, whether dark and thrilling or funny and quirky, and learn how to pitch them creatively as a new blockbuster book or film series. Students will practice consolidating and presenting their ideas persuasively in this final project.

Instructor: Julie Dillard

Things You’ve Always Wondered: Philosophy and Life’s Big Questions

Philosophy deals with the “big questions” of the world and our place in it—the question of (to quote Wilfrid Sellers) “how things in the broadest possible sense of the term hang together in the broadest possible sense of the term.” This course will offer a basic introduction to philosophical terminology and how to construct arguments, and then apply that knowledge to analyzing a number of contemporary philosophical problems. Possible topics include: Is time travel to the past possible What is consciousness? Can we create intelligent machines? Does your iPhone count as part of your mind? Are there any supernatural things in the world? Is there such a thing as human nature? What’s the difference between science and pseudoscience? Do we have free will? This course will consist in a (more-or-less) systematic examination of questions like these through the lens of particular issues of interest to contemporary philosophers. Through reading, debate, discussion, and writing, we will explore philosophy as a living discipline that has unique contributions to make to the project of understanding the world around us, and will emphasize philosophical problems that are relevant to pressing issues in other disciplines.

Instructor: Jon Lawhead