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4 Reasons to Explore a STEM Summer Program

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STEM summer program

Whether you’re completely set on pursuing an engineering degree, wavering between biology and art history, or just curious what oceanography is all about, the summer is the perfect time to turn your STEM daydreams into a reality.

But why should you skip the summer job or the chance to hang out with your friends for a STEM program? Consider these benefits:

1. Have an adventure

Many summer STEM programs give students the opportunity to explore with the eyes of a scientist. So you won’t just be going somewhere new, you will be learning to see it in a new way.

Always dreamed of climbing a volcano? Check out Science Camps of America’s Big Island of Hawaii Summer Camp for Teens, where lava flows, coral reefs, and world-class astronomical observatories will be your classroom. If the ocean calls to you, consider Advanced Program at the Acadia Institute of Oceanography, where you will collect specimens, examine tidepools, and snorkel off the rocky coast of Maine. For a more urban adventure, you can delve into the marsh ecosystems outside Los Angeles with The Living City program through Loyola Marymount University.

2. Experience hands-on STEM learning

Learning biology and physics in the classroom is all well and good, but for really igniting your STEM passions, there is no substitute for writing your own code, drafting your own engineering specs, or culturing your own stem cells.

Aspiring architects and engineers will want to consider heading to Boston this summer. At Boston Architectural College’s Summer Academy, students use professional software to draft designs and create 3D models. At Wentworth Institute of Technology’s summerFAB High School Architecture Program, participants collaborate to complete an entire architectural project, from concept to construction.

If you’re an avid gamer who’s itching to get behind the scenes, then the Game Design Camps offered by Game Experience in Seattle and Los Angeles should be on your list. Students learn from professional game developers, then work with a team to produce their own playable game.

Avid biology students who want to make the leap from the classroom to the lab, should investigate the course offered by Pathways to Stem Cell Science. Participants work with PhD-level research scientists to culture and manipulate real stem cells and learn about the most cutting-edge work in the field.

3. Explore STEM career options

If you already have an idea what career paths interest you, a summer program can be the ideal way to learn more and give your plan a test run.

Interested in becoming a doctor or medical researcher? Check out Emory University’s Pre-College Program, which offers classes including sports medicine, medical microbiology, and infectious diseases. If animals are your passions, a two-week session at the Pre-Veterinary Medicine Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst will teach you the basics of animal anatomy and care, and give you hands-on experience handling and examining farm animals.

Future engineers with exceptional talents should look into the highly selective Engineering Summer Academy at the University of Pennsylvania, which offers rigorous, challenging courses in specialties including biotechnology, computer graphics, and robotics.

For students whose interests combine both STEM and criminal justice, Georgetown University’s Forensic Science Academy might be an excellent fit. Students will hear from practiced professionals as they learn about computer forensics, terrorism investigations, blood spatter analysis, and geographic profiling.

4. Get a head start

Not even in high school yet? Not a problem. There are plenty of programs that let middle schoolers and elementary-age students jumpstart their STEM explorations. For example, check out Duke University’s Biosciences & Engineering Camp for Middle School. Students in grade 6 through 8 can learn about DNA, build a prosthetic arm, and immerse themselves in the research labs of one of the country’s most prestigious universities.

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Sarah Good is a journalist who has covered everything from small town elections to international financial fraud. She is also private tutor with more than 10 years experience unraveling the mysteries of standardized tests and college applications.