Winter Weekends are on pause for 2023.

Stay tuned for more updates - or better yet, join our mailing list and be the first to know the latest GIV news!

About the GIV Winter Program

Winter Weekends are on pause for 2023.

Historically, Winter Weekends have offered two-day intensive learning experiences for Vermont 9th-12th graders. Hosted on a Vermont College Campus, these experiences offer you an adventurous weekend to explore a topic you’re interested in with professional mentors and new friends who love the same things you do. Winter Weekends are jam-packed with fun, learning, and community-building and are a smart way to get a taste of what GIV summer Institutes are like.

Students hoping for a GIV experience in 2023 should explore our 2023 Summer Institutes, or reach out with further questions!

Past Winter Weekend Topics

Space Mission Design

Ready to blast off?   Your mission is to design hardware for a Mars polar mission to drop a seismometer on the surface.  To protect the seismometer from wind noise and the cold environment, you’ll need to design and test a protective cover that will fit around the seismometer and seal it around the ground.  We’ll tinker to find good cover designs, build prototypes using realistic materials, and then deploy our seismometers to test throughout the day and night. We’ll use real data to keep iterating our designs until we have a working product that we can design for a mission.  Taught by Deborah Sigel, a mechanical/aerospace Engineer, who worked on the Mars Insight mission proposal at NASA and the Mars Rovers, and mechanical/aerospace engineer John McNeil who specializes in drones, airplanes, and rockets.

Entrepreneurial Leadership

Can an entrepreneurial mindset change the world?  Yes! Business founders approach problems from a unique strength-oriented perspective to assess opportunities and formulate effective solutions – whether the goal is a profitable business, social impact or both!  We’ll explore what an entrepreneurial mindset means and how to leverage your own strengths to create, launch, and lead visionary change. If you’ve ever been curious about social enterprise, business, entrepreneurship, or corporate social responsibility, don’t miss this springboard to your future. Taught by Tamie-Jo Dickinson MBA, a business teacher with over 20 years of teaching experience, and Gwen Pokalo, Vermont Director of the Center for Women & Enterprise and 2019 winner of the Athena Young Professional Leader Award.


Have you ever wanted to create your own flash mob? Eager to develop a solo dance or original choreography that evokes emotion and moves an audience? Whether you consider yourself a talented dancer, a yogi or gymnast, or just someone who likes to move, in this workshop you’ll gain the structures and prompts to build your own performances, and you’ll leave with insight into dance as an art form and a communication and community-building tool. Taught by Heather Bryce, Artistic Director and founder of Bryce Dance Company and Teaching Artist for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Lincoln Center Education.

Micro Controllers

Maybe you’ve experimented with robotics, or have always wanted to. Maybe you’ve even gotten pretty adept with Lego Mindstorm. Or maybe you’re just starting out and want to learn how to give mechanical creations life. Take your tech expertise to the next level by studying Arduino robotics with former NASA engineer Deb Sigel.  Learn real microcontroller programming that engineers use daily, while having lots of creative fun.  You don’t need to be a coder or maker to take this strand, but there will be plenty of depth for advanced learners too. Bring your vision and curiosity and see how far your imagination and new skills can take you in one weekend!


Help solve some of the sky’s greatest mysteries using art!  We’re partnering with the Northern Skies Observatory to bring you the Governor’s Institute on Astrophotography, a unique blend of art, graphic design, math, science, and information technology that captures and shapes cosmic images for use in science and art.  You’ll use professional-grade equipment to produce professional quality results. Past Astrophotography students have had their work featured in National Geographic!


Come explore how our perception of the world around us emerges from neural activity at the molecular, cellular, and systems levels. We’ll delve into cutting edge research to learn how neural signals travel throughout the body and brain and conduct our own hands-on work using physiology, anatomy, and perceptual studies to understand the biology underlying how we think and feel. Taught by Vermonter Kameron Clayton, PhD student at Harvard University. We recommend you take biology before completing this course.

Storytelling and Writing Film

We live in an unprecedented era when high schoolers write history for the world, social media topples governments, and ethical issues ricochet around the world in seconds. If you are eager to publish content with impact, join professor Rob Williams, publisher of “The Vermont Independent” and founding head of the national Action Committee for Media Education, for a deep-dive into digital storytelling. Students will gain hands-on experience as backpack journalists, using mobile devices to develop, shoot, and edit video that packs a punch.  We’ll explore the unprecedented power and responsibility teen communicators have as members of the digital generation and the role of news, information, censorship and empowerment in our digital age.

Social Psychology

Ever wondered why people do what they do?  Come explore the science behind people’s behavior. Social psychology studies the interaction between individuals, groups and society to answer questions like “How do biology, culture and situational settings influence our understanding of ourselves and others?” This course, taught by social psychology researcher Dr. Leslie Johnson, will take a good look at self-concept and social roles, bias, and stigma and students will try their hand at some behavioral research of their own. We recommend that students have completed an advanced science or advanced English class.

The Art of Cartooning

Are you a visual artist? If so, you’re in luck!    Join us and try your hand at non-fiction memoir cartooning and single panel gag comics. You will learn how to pull memories from your own life that have shaped who you are and illustrate them in a multi-panel cartoon style. You will also learn how to refine a joke down to a single panel (or meme) and create a cartoon composition that spotlights the funny. Professor Isaac Eddy, actor and author of the animated series Cat, Dog, Stoop, has had single panel cartoons published in the New Yorker, non-fiction journalism cartoons in the New York Times online, and animated documentary shorts published in Time magazine online. Prior experience with cartooning, illustration, drawing, or other visual arts is recommended.

GIV’s Winter Weekends aim to return in future years! Subscribe to GIV's email list to be the first to hear announcements about Winter Weekend and more.