Three weeks. Five courses. Countless opportunities.

At DECATS, we believe education and entertainment go hand-in-hand. Our qualitatively differentiated program focuses on leadership and responsibility education for gifted children, providing challenging and enriching coursework, nurturing the whole learner and fostering the leaders of tomorrow. Originally conceived and architected on Dr. Joseph Renzulli’s conceptions and models of giftedness, DECATS is a safe learning environment for students who demonstrate high intellectual ability, a strong commitment to learning and exceptional creativity.

Daily Schedule
Participating Scholars
Unique Schedule Possibilities
Faculty & Staff

All Scholars participate in Manners to Morals during first period, an intense exploration of the joys and responsibilities of being a gifted leader. There is a different curriculum for each year that Scholars participate, determined by grade level.

Manners – Third Grade Scholars

Goals and Objectives

  • In partnership with parents, provide scholars the opportunity to learn, practice and master basic manners and etiquette.
  • Build community within the Scholar’s M2M crew and with all Scholars attending.
  • Practice collaboration and supporting others within the crew.
  • Enhance Scholar ability to contribute to a team.
  • Practice serving in an apprentice role with a Mentor coach.
  • Learn to generalize etiquette skills in different contexts.
  • Enhance social and relationship development through meaningful, connected conversation.
  • Enhance Scholar confidence and positive self-image.
  • Develop respect for others.

Course Content

Lessons on basic manners and etiquette are presented and modeled to the entire DECATS community, and then practiced in “crews” grouped by grade level, led by a Mentor coach. Scholars begin as novices, and as they improve, reach apprentice level, and ultimately, mastery level of etiquette skills. Scholars do not advance as individuals, but as a crew, providing opportunities to practice supporting and encouraging others in a team.

Through a variety of creative, inventive and participatory activities, Scholars gain new skills in areas like shaking hands, greetings, introductions, conversations (small talk), hygiene, telephone etiquette, thank you notes, active listening, and table manners. Criteria for mastery include approach, proximity, facial expression, confidence, eye contact, posture, firm grip for handshake, articulation, volume, vocabulary and topic choices in conversations, active listening, and asking appropriate questions.

Executive Functioning – Fourth Grade Scholars

Goals and Objectives

Scholars will grow in their abilities to:

  • Stop, think, and plan before acting.
  • Set personal goals and develop realistic plans to achieve them.
  • Self-evaluate and accept and use constructive feedback.
  • Actively and independently problem solve, analyze problems, and develop strategies.
  • Cooperate as a team member and recognize and regulate emotional reactions.
  • Become more aware of others’ needs and feelings.
  • Understand responsibility to self, family, community and God.
  • Develop strategies for improving their attention.

Course Content

Author Alex Michaels explains Executive Functioning this way: “Executive Functioning is the brain’s ability to absorb information, interpret this information, and make decisions based upon this information. For example, most people have a routine when they get up in the morning. Some mornings you might look out the window and see something is dripping from the sky. This dripping is interpreted as “rain” which implies a set of rules; e.g., needing to wear different clothes, the soccer game will be canceled which means you need to make other arrangements for an after school activity, rolling down the windows while you drive is not wise, you don’t need to water the grass today.”

Our entire life is mediated by our executive system as each step of the day brings about various sets of “rules” that we need to live by. The most complex of these is social interaction (if you meet someone and they are crying, your response should be very different than if they were smiling). The executive functioning system is analogous to an “executive” whose job it is to organize and assure things are running smoothly.

Executive Functions include:

  • Inhibition – The ability to stop one’s own behavior at the appropriate time, including stopping actions and thoughts. The flip side of inhibition is impulsivity; if you have weak ability to stop yourself from acting on your impulses, then you are behaving “impulsively.”
  • Shifting – The ability to move freely from one situation to another and to think flexibly in order to respond appropriately to the situation.
  • Emotional Regulation – The ability to modulate emotional responses by bringing rational thought to bear on feelings.
  • Initiative – The ability to begin a task or activity and to independently generate ideas, responses, or problem-solving strategies.
  • Working memory – The capacity to hold information in mind for the purpose of completing a task.
  • Planning/Organization – The ability to manage current and future-oriented task demands.
  • Materials Management – The ability to impose order on work, play, and storage tools and spaces.
  • Social Coordination – The ability to work successfully with others in teams and other social situations.
  • Attention – The ability to focus on one aspect of the environment without getting distracted by others.

At DECATS, we recognize the importance of developing executive functioning skills. These functions are better predictors of future academic success than IQ. They allow us to tie our past to our future by setting goals, delaying gratification, anticipating future problems, learning from past experiences, and evaluating our actions.

Wellness – Fifth Grade Scholars

Goals and Objectives

  • Introduction of wellness as a way of life and a holistic philosophy of positive living that benefits all aspects of our lives.
  • Identification of ways to be less sedate and more active.
  • Participation in the 10,000 steps a day program and use of pedometers.
  • Review of “My Plate” and how it is used as a guide for choosing a healthy diet.
  • Invocation of an awareness of how portion sizes affect caloric intake and the effect that “supersizing” has had on our health.
  • Instruction on how to read food labels.
  • Exploration of the power of fads and how choices can affect health.
  • Provision of a safe environment for Scholars to share their perspectives on body image and gender.
  • Equipping of Scholars with tools to manage stress through mind / body techniques and guided imagery experiences.

Course Content

Wellness explores and encourages a life-long commitment to good nutrition, stress reduction and exercise, all as integral parts of becoming a better leader and a better person.

Values & Morals – Sixth Grade Scholars

Goals and Objectives

  • To realize and reflect on what makes a true hero, exploring the values and morals of our Judeo-Christian heritage.
  • To continue practicing decision-making skills and evaluate possible consequences for those decisions.
  • To build servant leadership skills through community involvement.

Course Content

Values & Morals is the final level of the Manners to Morals formation curriculum, where Scholars are challenged to expand their thinking to the community around them. Scholars work through this course using the framework of the Hero’s Journey and moral decision making. Through the analysis of other’s lives, as well as their own, they’ll have a greater understanding of the impact of their decisions. In this culminating M2M course, Scholars have an opportunity to provide acts of service both to the host campus and the Houston community.


Perspectives takes place during second period and provides a forum for reflection, support and direction for gifted Scholars. Topics include the privileges and responsibilities of being gifted, with special emphasis on leadership, followership, peer relationships and faith development. We also explore stereotypes of the gifted, dispelling myths and celebrating uniqueness. The primary goal of this four-year curriculum is to instill in Scholars a sense of service to others in a spirit of gratitude, learning that “better at” does not mean “better than.” Scholars are encouraged to think critically and be reflective regarding their own experiences.

Explore themes discussed in Perspectives

The objective analysis and evaluation of an issue to form a judgment.

The ability to examine issues from a fresh perspective, resulting in unique or innovative results.

The knowledge of one’s own character, strengths, weaknesses, feelings and motivations.

The perceptions held by others regarding giftedness.

The desire to serve and help others, thus resulting in growth and strength in those being served.

The capacity and willingness to follow the leadership of others.

The attributes of giftedness, including above average ability, task commitment, and creativity.

The ability to work successfully with others in teams and other social situations.

The theory that student intelligence should not be limited to IQ, but rather eight different possible areas of intelligence (logical-mathematical, spatial, linguistic, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalist).

A willingness to accept responsibility for one’s choices, actions and development.

Each summer, Scholars preview a wealth of elective course offerings and request their top three choices of those offered in third, fourth and fifth periods. DECATS works with those requests to place Scholars in at least one first-choice course across all three periods. Though it is not always possible for a Scholar to receive first-choice in all of the elective periods, the great news is that all of the courses are fun, interesting and challenging — and they change every year based on participant feedback. The library below will give you a good sense of the types of courses you can expect to be offered. It represents courses offered at all three of our campuses. The actual final list of offerings will vary between locations.

We gather course requests as part of an easy, online process, where you have plenty of advance time to review our offerings for the summer and map out those you wish to request. Final schedules are provided at the very start of the program, not in advance.

For more more about the course request process, check out our FAQ section.

DECATS 2021 Courses

The 2022 Course Catalog is first available to those who have signed up to participate in the program. This catalog provides a complete description list of each course, as well as a master schedule showing in which period each course is planned to be offered. The catalog will be made available in your myStatus Portal as listed on the calendar that’s also available in your portal.


A Game of Kings

Want to join the Knights of the Square Table, or maybe the Bishop Brigade? Do you want to Rook & Roll? Don’t be intimidated by the challenge of chess! Whether you’re a novice or an accomplished chess player, come sharpen your critical thinking skills, learn to outwit your opponents and experience the thrill of victory. Come on in and take a seat. “A Game of Kings” is beginning—and it’s your move!


A Thousand Flowers

Experience the traditional Italian polymer clay art of millefiori, which translates to “a thousand flowers.” The beauty of this technique is revealed through long, colorful coils wrapped strategically with polymer clay to construct elaborate designs. Create beads, sculptures, caterpillars and other beautiful insects using magnificent millefiori!



Marble mazes may appear simplistic, but look again! Slope, angles and other mathematical concepts are what keep things rolling. Collaborate with a team to design, test, and tweak your very own marble runs. With a little patience and a lot of planning, you’ll be amazed at what you can create.



You won’t believe your eyes! Come explore the secrets of magic tricks, from simple street magic to big stage performances, and practice performing for an audience of your own. Develop your stage presence as you explore the science behind each sleight of hand.


Adventure Awaits

Calling all those who seek adventure into parts unknown! Dragons are wreaking havoc, monsters are lurking and the people of the land need your help! You and your fellow Scholars will take fate into your hands as you form teams and make decisions that impact the outcome of your game. A simple roll of the die can change your circumstances completely! Be prepared to think two steps ahead because adventure awaits!


Angry Birds: Next Level

Ready . . . Aim . . . FIRE! We don’t need devices to play with THESE Angry Birds. In this course, we will build different kinds of catapults, assemble different kinds of “birds” for ammunition and construct various levels to knock down. Don’t let an evil piggy steal your spot. Slingshot your way into fun in Angry Birds: Next Level!



You are a scientist deep in the Amazon hoping to learn more about an animal you’ve been researching when suddenly you discover a new species! Believe it or not, this continues to happen every year, as the world is full of areas left to explore and animals left to discover. In Animania, you’ll journey into the unknown to examine some of the wildest creatures ever seen. Take the most interesting aspects of each and build a model of your own unique species. What does it eat? Where will it live? And, most importantly, what else might be out there?


Back to the Future

Take time-trusted tales and propel them into 2021! Take the themes and plot lines that make familiar tales eternally popular and see what happens when modern day elements are added into the mix in a play that you create, write and produce. Is the setting your school? Is the heroine the homecoming queen? See what happens when two worlds collide on stage!


Behind the Scenes

Are you curious about the design and technical aspects of a show? Behind the scenes of a production, the stage crew is hard at work designing, crafting, and creating the scenery, props and costuming needed for a production. Experience the thrill of theater from backstage, as you put together the pieces that will help our “Give My Regards to Broadway” show take shape. We can’t do it without you!


Bigger Than Before

Do you enjoy drawing but wish you could improve your artistic talents? Wish you could draw fabulous pictures but find yourself having to trace them to get the look you want? Learn how to draw smaller objects on a larger scale with a technique that will allow you to unleash your inner artist. Embrace a simple technique that will allow you to enlarge any picture to the size you want and still have it look like the original. Join us and amaze your family and friends.


Blood & Guts

Our planet is a marvelous place where creatures of all shapes and sizes coexist. Don your protective equipment and join us as we get a closer look at Earth’s creatures, both inside and out. Our journey will involve hands-on exploration and dissection of aquatic and terrestrial specimens as we examine their internal and external anatomy and learn more about the human body in the process. Allergy Warning: This course involves potential exposure to uncooked seafood, latex, and specimen preservatives.



Stretch your brain and prepare to attack problems in unconventional ways! This course is full of puzzles, riddles and challenging problems. It requires someone who wants to be challenged to think “outside the box!” Open your mind to logic and strategy as you participate in eye-opening activities, such as life-size Sudoku and human knots!


Cool Beats

Combine percussion skills with summer fun in the only course that lets you create a captivating show with only drums and pool noodles! Recreate your favorite music and produce new rhythms to put on a one-of-a-kind act. Come drum up some fun in Cool Beats!



Get ready to delve into the world of forensics. A crime has been committed, and we’ve been called upon to collect the evidence. Analyze fingerprints, hair samples, fibers and imprints to piece the picture together. Grab your magnifying glass and critical thinking cap and let’s solve the mystery!



Join DECATS Digest by becoming a reporter or photographer for our newspaper. We will publish an entire edition during our three weeks together. Find out what it takes to write for and create a newspaper as you develop the confidence to seek out interviews with your peers and Mentors. Put your research, interviewing, photography and writing skills to work for the entire community to enjoy. Don’t miss this opportunity to spread the news!



Why buy what you can make yourself? Get ready to construct and create! Get a little messy and have a whole lot of fun as we make our own bouncy balls, silly putty, soap, sidewalk chalk and more. If you are ready to take projects into your own hands, this is the course for you!


DECATS Olympics

The Olympics have arrived in Houston! After we divide into countries, create flags and logos, and participate in Opening Ceremonies, it’s time for the games to begin. We’ll participate in a variety of sports and challenges modeled after those seen in the Olympics, such as scooter-kayaking and build-your-own badminton. Go for the gold in DECATS Olympics!


Denim Designs

What’s the best kind of fabric? Denim! Jeans are stylish, trendy, useful and versatile. But instead of wearing them, let’s deconstruct them and design something new! Be ready to look at this fashion material in a new way as we construct bean bag games, personalize coasters and apply intricate weaving patterns using this timeless textile.


From the Page to the Stage

From the movies that fill the big screen to the plays that fill our hearts and minds with wonder, each grand production first begins with the filling of a page. Come decide the characters and plot that will come to life in a production of your own. We will create the screenplays and scripts, design the storyboards, and make the casting decisions that will have your ideas ready to go from the page to the stage!


Game On

Are you quick to solve puzzles during Wheel of Fortune? Do you wish you could buzz in with answers during Jeopardy? You are no longer just a contestant at home. Use your creativity to create your very own game show. Become a producer as you create the concept, craft the rules and bring the game show to life.


Get Growing

Learn how to care for the earth by putting your green thumbs to work! Grow plants and herbs that can be used for everything from beautifying a space at our campus to adding flavor to our favorite drinks. Learn how to cultivate and care for plants, as well as the significant ways they have been used to promote healing for generations. Allergy Warning: This course involves direct exposure to live plants and potential exposure to insects.


Give My Regards to Broadway

Lights, camera, action! Join in the excitement and magic of being part of a Broadway show. Share your love of theater as you act, sing, and dance to make a musical come to life. Everyone performs and everyone is cast in a part. Scholars learn the fundamentals of acting, create a costume, develop their character, memorize lines and sing and dance in a fast paced, hands-on production. Get ready to shine as the curtain goes up and the show goes on.


Gotta Catch ‘Em All

Pokémon cards can be found in the hands of people all over the country. While many enjoy the game, few have stopped to think about the math at work behind it! We will learn how to apply math probability techniques to tip the odds in our favor. Come build the strongest hand (and mind) and defeat your opponents! What are you waiting for? We “Gotta Catch ‘Em All!”


Hello, Hogwarts

Calling all wizards! From the moment you arrive, you will cease to be a Muggle and take on the role of a Scholar at the Hogwarts School in the wizarding world of Harry Potter! Explore extraordinary classes like Care of Magical Creatures, Transfiguration and Potions. Try your hand at making your own wand, creating a golden snitch and designing your own Hogwarts floor plan. You can wear your Hogwarts robes or choose to dress in the Muggle manner. Come begin the journey of a lifetime into the wonderful world of Harry Potter!


If You Build It

Can you design a chair that will improve learning? What about an airplane seat that will allow for a more comfortable flight or a bookshelf that’s functional, yet fun? Use upcycled materials to design and construct full-size furniture that meets all your needs. Be ready to measure, cut and craft your designs to bring them to scale. From small ideas we’ll produce some grand furniture!


Into the Unknown

What would happen if you were stranded in the wilderness? Would you be able to thrive on your own? Let’s get outside and learn what it takes to conquer the great outdoors. We’ll learn about trail safety and food sources (including bugs!) and apply our newly-acquired knowledge to different survival scenarios. You’ll learn to be prepared for anything as we venture into the unknown.


It Actually is Rocket Science

Rockets flying, gravity defying; this is a course you will not be denying! Blast off into learning the physics of building your own rocket and then launch it to see just how far it can go! This may not be NASA, but there is no doubt that we will master different ways to overpower the gravitational force. Exploration awaits!


It’s All in the Cards

It’s time to shuffle the deck and suit up! Put your strategies to the test as you face your opponent in this card frenzy course! Get ready to try your hand at a variety of card games—both the familiar and the unexpected. Take a crack at Jacks or use tricks to gain the upper hand in “Oh No!” By the end of the course, you’ll have your own game designed that you can teach your peers. Fun is surely in the cards this summer!



Bubble, Bubble, Pop, Pop, Fizz, Fizz…KaBoom! Come explore the exciting world of chemistry! In this course, explore concepts such as surface tension, inertia, and polymers – all by performing hands-on experiments. The KaBoom lab awaits you!


LEGO Robotics

Enter the world of robotics engineering! Using LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 kits, your team will build and program robots to use multiple sensors and successfully accomplish challenges. Want to make your robot follow a shape drawn out in tape on the floor? Maybe have it throw a ball? Or perhaps your robot will be voice activated? Come to LEGO Robotics and learn how to do all of that and more!



Come perform mystifying, mathematical feats that might seem impossible at first glance. Create curves using only straight lines and multiply using pebbles and holes in the ground. Do you believe you can cut a hole in an 8½ by 11 piece of paper large enough to walk through? Discover how to dazzle others with Mathemagic!


Mind Over Matter

Picture a locked box in the center of the room. You and your team must figure out the code to the box to receive the reward, but first you must determine the answer to a series of difficult clues. When faced with the ultimate challenge, will your team be able to combine their talents and knowledge to beat the clock? Use your abductive, inductive and deductive reasoning skills to find and decipher a series of clues that will lead you and your team to victory in this ultimate race against time.


Mission to Mars

Begin your exciting journey to the Red Planet! Come explore how past and present missions to Mars are paving the way for future explorations. Research amazing facts about the Martian atmosphere, terrain and harsh environment and use your knowledge to create your own space mission. Design and build a Mars Rover and let it take you where you need to go. What will you explore on your Mission to Mars?


On That Note

We need you to help us find that perfect pitch! All voices and levels of experience are welcome, as we recreate top hits and perfect ensemble versions of songs we know and love. We’ll use technology to sync digital recordings of our individual performances, so that we can safely create memorable mash-ups to enjoy for years to come.


Once Upon a Crime

What if the witch that captured Hansel and Gretel was arrested instead of killed? What if the Big Bad Wolf was sued by the pigs and had to pay to rebuild their homes? You’ll script out and participate in the mock courtroom trials of these and other fairytale villains. Were they found guilty of their crimes? Or were they able to successfully defend themselves and keep their freedom? Get your creative ideas ready!


Painting’s Possible

Create, invent and explore! It doesn’t matter if you are a painting master or if you think of yourself as a painting disaster, this course is for you! With your creativity running wild, develop paintings that break all the rules. Take a risk! The rewards are grand for dreamers who dare to color outside the lines, travel to new artistic places and create freely with no comments and critiques! Come experience your creative freedom. Lead the way!


See it in 3D

Enter the world of three-dimensional art! Through molding, constructing, and sculpting, we will create one of a kind pieces of artwork. To create our sculptures, we’ll use conventional materials like clay, but we’ll also mix it up with some different things we find along the way, such as sand and tape. Sculptures aren’t bound to rules: creations of all shapes sizes, textures, and forms are welcome!


Shark Tank

The tycoons of the business world are always looking for the next budding entrepreneur, so let’s see what you’ve got. With the right idea and planning, you could be on the next season of Shark Tank, where you’ll see if your idea has what it takes to earn the backing of investors! Come explore real world problems, brainstorm profitable solutions, create prototypes, budget finances and perfect your sales pitch. Does your idea have what it takes to survive The Shark Tank?


Short Circuit

Electronic circuits run the world! From the doorbell to the computer, they are at the center of any modern electronic device. Let’s discover this exciting world by learning the basic principles and laws of electronics and by building electronic circuits. Work with real components like resistors, diodes, transistors, LEDs and speakers. Build a working burglar alarm, audio generator, wake-up alarm and other devices. Use special software to plan and test your devices.


Skits & Spoofs

Laughter will ring out as we create spoofs of our favorite TV shows, produce music video parodies, perform hilarious skits, and much more! Create, share and laugh your way through performances. Come showcase your talents with a humorous twist!


Slime Time

Get ready for a summer of sticky goodness and slimy satisfaction! In this course, if we’re making a mess, then we know that we’re on the right track. We’ll make several different kinds of slime and use the scientific process to document our findings as we work to create slime of the perfect consistency. It’s always the right time for Slime Time!



The clock is ticking. All morning long you have been looking forward to going outside to play your favorite sport at recess. Just as that time of day nears, you hear the dreaded news, “Outside activities are cancelled due to rain (or the dreaded ozone alert!)”. That’s no obstacle for the Scholars in Sportsplex! We will learn to adapt some favorite games to be played indoors. No more rainy days ruining the fun!


Star Wars Zoology

May the force be with you as you study the behaviors, habitats, and anatomies of creatures from “a galaxy far, far away.” From the lush forest moon of Endor to the sands of Tatooine, we will examine and classify Ewoks, Wookies, Jawas, and so much more! Make sure to grab your data log and prepare for a voyage comparable to Darwin’s expedition to the Galapagos Islands!


Sticky, Icky, Eewy, Gooey

Create unique works of art by using some of the stickiest, messiest mediums imaginable. Be prepared to get your hands dirty as we explore glue-based paint, salt mixtures, and other unconventional methods and mediums. One thing is certain- the messier the process, the more beautiful the art!



Put your survival skills to the test and head out into the wild! We’ll study animal adaptations to figure out how they manage to survive in some of the harshest environments and see what works for us. Use what you learn to build a shelter that can withstand whatever Mother Nature has in store. Work with your team to employ survival skills and techniques that allow you to outlast the elements.


The Sky’s the Limit

From the Coliseum to the Empire State Building, architectural design has allowed us to create long-lasting structures that have changed the landscape of our world. Come explore the wonders of architecture as you draft blueprints to build your own dream house, design skyscrapers, and plan out your own city using a variety of materials, such as LEGOS and STEM kits. We’ll also put our engineering and architectural skills to the test as we work to keep Venice from sinking!


Through a Different Lens

Experience the world of digital photography through a different lens! By encountering a different theme each day, learn and practice different styles of photography, ranging from landscape to bird’s eye and worm’s eye view. Experience what it’s like to edit your photographs to enhance the beauty that you have captured in your photos. Show off your amazing still shots to others in the DECATS Gallery.


Uncommon Threads

You won’t believe what we can thread together when we combine the ordinary and the uncommon! From kumihomo, an ancient braiding technique used by the Samurai, to the more modern-day style of macramé, we’ll create drawstring pouches that tuck away your playing cards and sleeves to personalize your water bottles.


Watercolor World

Art and science come together to create brilliant works of art! There’s much more to watercolor than meets the eye. Learn several tips and techniques unique to this medium, including how to paint secret images that won’t be revealed until you’re ready. Experiment with intensity and wash to create a frame-worthy masterpiece!



Is the World Wide Web ready for your webpage? Have an interest in being a web designer? If so, this course is for you! You will learn how to program and become a webmaster. Come and take this webpage journey from beginning to end, going from a blank page to a web page!


What Would You Do

Welcome to “What Would You Do?”- a game show centered around science! Step into the world of psychology as you work together in teams to design and carry out experiments in human behavior. Let’s see what we can learn about our peers when they are faced with moments of choice and decision. What age group is more likely to help a friend in need? Will everyone come sit in a silent circle during recess if they see several of their fellow Scholars doing so? Record your experiments to show to the studio audience. Can they predict what might happen next? Or will the test subject surprise us all?


Zentangle Untangled

Come test, experiment, and invent a new way to draw! Learn to craft step-by-step, line-by-line patterns that turn into brilliant illusions with the zentangle method. Prepare to see patterns everywhere and translate them into zentangles on surfaces ranging from paper and clothing to small furniture all your own!