It Was Pretty Amazing
I was a member of this program from 1973-1975 (4th and 5th grade) at Gilbert Elementary in Garden Grove, California. My fourth grade instructor was Mr. Doleshall (and my 5th grade instructor was Ms. Stanley). I still remember the names of quite a few of my classmates. Quite frankly it was a turning point in my life and the the most amazing experience.
At the time, when I was only 9-11 years old, I didn't realize what was happening, when I left the program and went to Colorado in 1975 (and back to normal school)... ...that was a pretty horrible thing. And I'm only just now beginning to realize how awful it was.
While at the time I was vaguely aware that what was going on in our class was different than what was going on in the adjacent classrooms I never really thought of it in terms that "all kids should get this experience" though now having experience with education I absolutely think vastly more ought to have the opportunity. Our class was pretty close-knit and while it had some of the evil that kids do to one another I think it had a lot less than a "normal" classroom (this alone makes it a far better experience for the average kid, I think).
We did wonderful things (esp. compared to "normal" classes). We made a stop-motion animated film short (set to the Irish Rover's "Unicorn"); we built all the sets and animals and spent quite a bit of time on it. It won several awards, in the end, and a pretty amazing thing for a bunch of ten-year olds to do. Mr. Doleshall was a tremendously gifted instructor and truly knew how to bring kids "into" whatever was going on. We tracked the weather, kept animals in class and did very cool science experiments. Mr. Doleshall taught us how to be organized in a very grown-up fashion (which has stuck with me to this day). We learned to diagram sentences, sentence structure, etymology, geography, and so many other things in ways which I still can call upon to this day (and which have never been "bettered" even up through my university experience). Remember, we were just 10! It wasn't that we learned in-depth concepts really, but we learned the basics so well that we could just do them in our heads - the times tables through 16 at a breakneck pace - I bet my classmates can STILL do them all the way to 256. These basics really change the way you approach all the rest of it (in good and bad ways - see my later experiences, below).
Even the summer school was incredible; we had a class called "flight" wherein we learned everything from the physics of flight right up to flying a plane. Several of my classmates actually went to Long Beach airport and flew a Cessna as part of it. But in the end, everyone understood what is "going on" when a plane leaves the ground.
After fifth grade, my family moved to Colorado and i was enrolled in "normal" elementary school (6th grade). It quickly became apparent that school was no longer going to be anything like it had been in the MGM program and I began to fall behind (not on what I knew, merely on the busy-work homework that was the basis of that kind of an "education")
I learned things in fourth and fifth grade MGM that weren't advanced upon until my junior year in high school; I became a kid who didn't do his work. I was put in remedial English class (8th grade), regardless that my vocabulary went far beyond my instructors. In 9th grade my Algebra teacher told my mom I had "no aptitude - none whatsoever - for math" during a parent-teacher conference (oddly, I was 98th percentile on the SAT math a few years later). I'm a math FREAK (and always have been).
I have since learned that if a child isn't doing well in school, it's best to examine the school or the homelife; kids who are being fed info at their level in school generally will strive to do it (and are able to keep up). Home difficulties can stop a kid in their tracks, however.
When there became an "advanced" class I wasn't even considered for it. So - you know - I'm a bit bitter about "normal school."
I'll be happy to share more about my experience, but for now I think I'm going to post this.