Courses that Inspire Creativity and Exploration
The Leapfrog-Spark Online program introduces students to academically advanced concepts in fun, hands-on ways that encourage exploration, creativity, and problem solving. Experienced instructors build on students' interests and strengths, and guide students as they develop knowledge and skills that they'll take with them long after the course ends.
Why Choose the Leapfrog-Spark Program?
CTD courses encourage students to explore topics in depth and at an accelerated pace that matches their readiness to learn. Since CTD focuses on talent development, the best way to choose courses for Leapfrog-Spark is to consider your child's strengths and to identify course topics that are most interesting to them.
- Hands-on, collaborative learning
- Experienced instructors
- Engagement with peers
- Novel topics of high interest
- Engaging projects that promote critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills
In addition to Leapfrog-Spark courses, CTD offers a diverse range of online program options; view a full list here.
Leapfrog-Spark Online programs for the summer of 2021 are at the Amber Tier for eligibility, which is open enrollment. There are no test scores or further documentation required for participation. Please note that successful completion of a Leapfrog-Spark Online course does not pre-qualify students to enroll in future classes outside of the Amber Tier.
You can access the application online at my.ctd.northwestern.edu.
Applications must be complete one-week prior to the start of the class. Applications completed after the deadline may be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Requests for Grade Advancement/Acceleration
CTD course content is advanced or grade-level accelerated, as reflected in course descriptions and the standard admission requirements. Though course content is advanced, students can engage with intellectual peers who are also age- or grade-level peers. Therefore, most students should apply for courses aligned to the grade-level in which they are currently enrolled. Still, for some students demonstrating a need for an even higher level of instruction than CTD’s advanced and accelerated courses already provide, further acceleration may be an option. Visit the Requesting an Accelerated Placement web page for more information about the process, timeline, and required materials.
Please see CTD's withdrawal and refund information for policies.
CTD offers need-based financial aid awarded as requests are received. Families are encouraged to apply early because the amount of aid available is limited. Please see the Financial Aid page for details.
- The deadline to complete a financial aid application for Summer programming is May 31.
- You will receive the FACTS application link in your application confirmation email once the $60 dollar tuition deposit is paid and the application is submitted.
- It is imperative that you complete the financial aid application as soon as possible as it may take FACTS up to ten days to process your information.
- If you previously completed a FACTS application for the 2019-2020 academic year for CTD, you must still attach the 2020-2021 FACTS application to your FACTS account. You will be able to link your FACTS account to this new FACTS information. You may need to update financial information.
- If you experience difficulties with the FACTS process please call the FACTS helpline at 866/412-4637.
Summer 2021 Sessions:
- Dates are June 28 - July 2, July 5 - 9, July 12 - 16, and July 19 - 23
- Each course is one week long, Monday through Friday
- 3 hours of live online class time each day, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. (Central)
Students engage directly with their instructor and classmates through an online video conferencing platform (Zoom) for the duration of the course.
All course materials (documents, videos, discussion boards) are posted in Schoology, CTD's secure, online learning platform.
Courses run for 3 hours on a single day with a 15-minute break. See Sample Class Agenda further down this page for details on how live classes are conducted.
Supplies: Some courses may have required or recommended supplies, including print-outs, that families will be responsible for obtaining prior to the course. Supply lists and recommended suppliers will be provided to parents at least 10 days prior to the course in which they are needed. No course will have supplies that exceed $30 (before shipping and handling), and many required supplies will be common household items that may already be in the student's home.
This is an example schedule for a Leapfrog-Spark Online course. Times of activities are approximate, and schedules will vary from course to course (and day to day within a course).
|45-60 minutes||Course work|
|10-15 minutes||Share out|
|45-65 minutes||Course work|
|10-15 minutes||Share out|
Introduction: Introduction to the topic(s) of the day, ice-breaker, reminders of class expectations, materials needed for class, and how to use the functions in the conferencing software
Course Work (3 or more of the following activities during each course):
- interactive instructor lecture and/or slide deck
- introductory video
- instructor-led interactive demonstration
- informational article that is read and discussed in small groups
- large-group discussion
- small-group problem-solving activity
- individual hands-on activity
- individual research
- practice with new skill or strategy
- written reflection
Share Out: Sharing out of student products or findings from small group/individual work and follow-up large-group discussion
Break: Students take a bathroom / snack break. While eating their snack, they might keep their computers connected to the conferencing software so that they can continue to build community and engage with classmates outside of the academic context of the course.
Debrief: Recap learning experiences, revisit essential question(s) of the day, complete exit slips
Students are required to have a laptop or tablet with a camera, a microphone, speakers and/or audio jack, the ability to type/keyboard, and the ability to connect to the Internet. Students need access to a stable internet connection and an updated web browser.
Zoom is the conferencing software that will be used for the live course sessions. We recommend watching the Zoom for Students tutorial video prior to the start of class.
Course materials (including the link to the course’s Zoom classroom) are hosted in Schoology, which is a learning management system designed for K-12 students. Schoology is a web-based application, so no software is required. Login details for student accounts will be shared with students a few days prior to the start of the session.
Student acceptance emails will contain a link to a Family Information webpage that includes program information and the Student and Family Handbook.
Instructors will help students navigate the features that will be utilized within Zoom at the start of the class. CTD still recommends, however, that students watch the Zoom for Students tutorial video prior to the start of class.
Primary communication with the course instructor and/or classmates occurs within Zoom.
Leapfrog Spark Online courses are open enrollment. There are no student evaluations for these online courses.
- For questions regarding CTD Leapfrog-Spark admissions and financial aid, please contact:
- For questions about current CTD Leapfrog-Spark enrollments, please contact:
- For questions about school partnerships, please contact: