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2023 options coming soon

Seminar placement is assigned on a first-come, first-served basis, so we recommend applying early.


Students will select one of three academic areas of focus, which involves six 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 with a short evaluation of the their work, which may include accomplishments and areas of growth. 

2022 Seminar Topics

Students rank their preferred seminar topic in the application.

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

Is There Anybody In There? Philosophy of Mind and the Nature of Consciousness

What are you thinking about right now? How do you know how to answer that question? Is it possible that you’re wrong when you give an answer to it? What is your mind, and how does it relate to whatever is happening inside your skull? Do other things have minds like yours? Can you be sure? This course will explore the fundamentals of philosophy of mind, with a special emphasis on the so-called “Hard Problem” of consciousness. Through readings, discussions, debates, and (possibly) introspection, we will consider a number of major philosophical problems, including epistemological skepticism and radical doubt, the nature of mental representations, the structure of consciousness, the problems of artificial intelligence, and the relationship between mind, body, and world. We will be reading such influential figures as Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Nagel, Jackson, Searle, Turing, and many others as they attempt to navigate this difficult philosophical territory. In the process, we will learn to sharpen our critical thinking skills, to engage in substantive philosophical debates, and to better articulate our understanding of the world. The culmination of the course will involve putting consciousness to the test in a “mock trial” with students taking on the roles of prosecutors, defense, witnesses, and so on to determine the fate of the mind once and for all!

Instructor: Jon Lawhead

Water and Its Effects

In this course students will explore the role water plays in our atmosphere.  Water is the primary medium through which we will feel the effects of climate change.  As such, an integrated view on water and our climate is necessary in devising a more sustainable future for our ever-changing world. Students will first learn about the molecular structure and properties of water.  Next, students will investigate the role water plays in our changing climate.  Lab activities in this course will examine Carbon dioxide and air temperature, Sea Ice and ocean temperature, and Thermal Expansion of Water.  Students will culminate their findings in a final poster presentation to the class.

Instructor: Elizabeth Walenta