Minnesota Council for the Gifted & Talented

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MCGT CHOICES Chapter Membership Appreciation Month


The MCGT CHOICES Chapter is happy to announce January as the CHOICES Chapter Member Appreciation Month!  To show our appreciation, we are offering a series of FREE classes over Zoom to help beat the winter doldrums! These classes are free of charge as long as you are a member of our Chapter. Class Descriptions are listed below the registration process.  At this time, we are offering Brain Games with Jessica, Exploring Ancient Art with Cassandra, and Botany with Abbi! We also have a Star Wars/Lord of the Rings Discussion Group and an Electric Vehicles Class in the works!  We hope to announce those class details soon!!


  1. To register your child, please verify that you are a current CHOICES chapter member of MCGT.  
  2. Please verify that your child meets the age minimum in January.  All the students registered are gifted and will be working 1-3 years ahead in their curriculum.
  3. Email Lorri Jennings (CHOICES Treasurer) at [email protected] with your child’s name, age and the name that your CHOICES membership is listed in.
  4. Once registered, Zoom login information will be sent to the associated email address.

The classes are as follows:

Class Title:  Electric Vehicles – Today and the Future with Professor Jukka Kukkonen

Ages: All  – parents please plan to attend with your child

Class Size Limit:  none

Class Date and Times:  Thursday January 28th 4-5:30PM 1 hour presentation with 30 minute Q&A

Registration Deadline:  January 20th, 5pm

Class Description: Explore the exciting world of electric vehicles.  Gain an understanding of the current advantages and challenges of electric vehicles.  Examine new technologies being developed to improve electric storage and distribution and dream of a future without gas stations.   Consider the infrastructure changes necessary to fuel this new reality and the discuss the differences in implementation globally.

Instructor Bio:  Jukka Kukkonen is Chief EV Educator for Shift2Electric. An automotive engineer by training and a former Ford area manager, he has worked with EV market for over 10 years. Jukka has deep knowledge of the electric vehicle market and he specializes in market dynamics and real-life user perspectives. He has built programs for utility companies, auto dealers, condominium and apartment building charging, workplace charging, DC fast charging, outreach and education and smart grid integration. He also teaches the “EV Market and Technologies” graduate course at the University of Saint Thomas. 

For more info visit www.Shift2Electric.com.

Class Title:  Brain Games with Jessica

Ages: 8-12

Class Size Limit:  20

Class Dates and Times:  Mondays, January 11, 18, and 25th  3:30 – 4:30pm

Registration Deadline:  January 8th, 5pm

Class Description: Whether it is to do better at school or to stay sharp, there are various reasons for wanting to boost brainpower. This class will take you through a series of challenges that will put both your mind and body to the test! Exercise your mental muscle with some fun challenges, logic puzzles and brain-busting riddles and learn the science behind it.

Instructor Bio:  Jessica is a strategic learning and development leader, master facilitator, keynote speaker and award winning instructional designer. She has delivered hundreds of courses to leaders worldwide at companies like UnitedHealthcare, Target, 3M, and Boston Scientific. She is a mother of three and enjoys tending to her backyard chickens and playing violin.

Class Title:  Exploring Ancient Art with Cassandra Monson

Ages:  8-12

Class Size Limit: 30

Class Dates and Times:  Tuesdays, January 12, 19, 26 and February 2nd at 10am

Registration Deadline:  January 9th, 5pm

Class Information:  Zoom info: Cassandra will log into the zoom room 15 minutes before class and stay after class for 15 minutes- so she is offering 1.5 hours of attention with the structured part of class being 1 hour. 

Supplies needed: Each class uses blank paper and pencils/markers or watercolors. Printer paper or any blank paper is good! 

Instructor Bio:  Cassandra Monson is a professional artist and a freelance art teacher. Cassandra has a BFA from the College of Visual Arts and 20 years of teaching experience. She teaches art classes all over the Twin Cities and offers an outdoor art program where young artists make art in an evergreen forest or sitting on the sandy shore of the Mississippi River. Cassandra teaches students to invest themselves in the creative process so that they will build a quality product. Cassandra combines quality art materials with recycling to enhance her student’s creative problem solving skills and promote environmental consciousness.

All Cassandra’s art programs are integrated with literature, language, history and information about artists from all over the world. Cassandra incorporates mindful meditation and an appreciation of nature in all her programs. She shows her artwork at local galleries and participates in local art fairs. This provides a rich opportunity for her students to learn from a working artist.

Class Title:  Botany with Abbi Allan

Ages:  6-10 years

Class Size Limit:  15

Class Date and Times:  Wednesdays, January 13, 20, 27, and February 3rd from 3:30-4:30pm

Registration Deadline:  January 10, 5pm

Class Description:  The science of seeds, beauty, growth, gardens  – creating and planning anything from our own windowsills to a garden in the backyard, even fantasizing and ideal botanical adventure. What growth can we create in the home during the cold winter months? How can we plan for our spring garden and garden year round?  Thinking about colors, consumption, and growth throughout the seasons. What are other benefits, stories, and meanings behind different plants and symbols? What actually grows in MN? We will look at planting techniques, edible landscapes, pollination, germination, observation and problem solving – such as creating our own natural pesticides/pest avoidance, companion gardening and deciding what makes the most sense and economical sense to grow in your own garden.

Prerequisites: Interest in plants and nature.  Able to design and conceptualize “landscaping” on the small scale planning level – to create in a sketchbook and share in a Google doc – if not in class (time depending).

Homework expectations: Day to day observations of things that are growing at home.

Documentation: writing, drawing, photos – however they best express themselves and track development in their own gardens/windowsill gardens and environmental observations. It would be great to have at least one observation from the week per participant.

Additional materials needed: Work can be shared in a Google doc.  Images of their designs, ideas, etc. – a way that they can share them; sketchbook is recommended

A bit about Abbi:  Abbi Allan’s life work is about creating hybridizations between art & science.  She attended the Alfred University: NY School of Ceramic Art and Design; where she majored in Mixed Media, while minoring both in Biology and Art History.  She got her Masters of Fine Art in sculpture at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She has taught at the Science Museum of MN since 2001 – teaching science through visual projects. She has been with MCAD Since 2008, and has taught at the College of Visual Arts, STAR Academy, the Phipps and more working with preschoolers to adults in the arts and sciences. Abbi has run her own business selling her ceramic sculptures and other artwork since she was 17, and continues to do so while constantly experimenting with new projects in a variety of media.  Her own work examines the fragility of nature: both its beautiful resilience and power and the potential for grotesque accumulated affects when abused.   www.abbiaallan.com

She also loves her Dobermans, gardening, making art, rock and roll, radio, and really strange things that happen in our natural world.  She’s both a programmer on KFAI (www.kfai.org)  and KFAI’s volunteer Music Director.  She is also involved with programming at the Vine Arts Center, and is on the Board of Directors.  She is also working as a vet assistant just to learn new things.