Top Pre-College Summer Programs in STEM

This article explores some of the top precollege summer programs in STEM - helping you find the perfect fit for your interests and goals.

By Justina Thompson — October 11, 2023

Top Pre-College Summer Programs in STEM

As a high school student interested in pursuing a future in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM), making the most of your summer break can be key to your academic and professional success. Precollege summer programs provide an exciting opportunity to explore your passions, gain hands-on experience, and connect with like-minded individuals from around the world. This article explores some of the top precollege summer programs in STEM — helping you find the perfect fit for your interests and goals.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Beaver Works Summer Institute

Run by one of the world's leading institutions in science and engineering, the MIT Beaver Works Summer Institute is a highly competitive program that focuses on cybersecurity, robotics, artificial intelligence, and engineering design. It offers an intense, challenging, and immersive experience for high school students. As a participant, you will have access to cutting-edge technology, work on real-world projects, and learn from esteemed faculty members. This program provides an invaluable opportunity to get a taste of life at MIT and build a strong academic foundation.

Penn Engineering Summer Academy (PESA)

The Penn Engineering Summer Academy, organized by the University of Pennsylvania's School of Engineering and Applied Science, offers high school students an immersive experience in various engineering disciplines. This program provides a unique opportunity to engage with faculty, researchers, and industry professionals from one of the top engineering schools in the world. Participants will explore hands-on projects, attend workshops, and gain valuable insights into the engineering field. PESA focuses on enhancing critical thinking, problem-solving, and design skills, preparing students for the challenges of an engineering career.

Research Science Institute (RSI)

The Research Science Institute is a prestigious summer program hosted by the Center for Excellence in Education and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. RSI brings together exceptional young minds from around the world for an intensive six-week STEM research experience. As a participant, you will work alongside leading scientists and engineers to tackle challenging research problems. This program not only builds research skills but also fosters a collaborative community of young scientists, creating lifelong connections.

Stanford University Mathematics Camp (SUMaC)

If you have a passion for mathematics, the Stanford University Mathematics Camp (SUMaC) is the perfect program for you. SUMaC provides a challenging and intellectually stimulating environment for high school students to delve into advanced mathematical topics. Participants will engage in rigorous coursework, solve complex problems, and explore various branches of mathematics through lectures and seminars. This program also offers opportunities to interact with Stanford faculty, providing invaluable insights into the world of higher-level mathematics.

NASA High School Aerospace Scholars (HAS)

If you've ever dreamt of reaching for the stars, the NASA High School Aerospace Scholars program can help turn that dream into a reality. This highly regarded program is designed to ignite passion for STEM through hands-on experience with NASA's mission and research. Participants will engage in interactive online investigations and earn the chance to compete for an all-expenses-paid trip to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. During the on-site experience, students will work alongside NASA experts, visit mission control centers, and engage in team-based engineering challenges.

Carnegie Mellon University Summer Academy for Mathematics and Science (SAMS)

The Summer Academy for Mathematics and Science (SAMS) at Carnegie Mellon University is an intensive six-week program designed to enhance the STEM skills and college readiness of underrepresented high school students. Through rigorous coursework, hands-on projects, and mentorship, SAMS participants deepen their knowledge in mathematics, science, and computer science. The program also includes workshops on college admissions, SAT preparation, and campus visits, helping students navigate the path to higher education. SAMS aims to empower students from diverse backgrounds and equip them with the tools for success in STEM fields.

Research Internship in Science and Engineering (RISE)

The RISE program, offered by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), provides high school students with a unique opportunity to conduct cutting-edge research in Germany. This program pairs motivated students with German host universities and research institutions, allowing them to work on projects in the fields of natural sciences, life sciences, engineering, and computer science, to name a few. Participants not only gain valuable research experience but also get a taste of German culture and academic life.

Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU)

The Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program is a highly regarded initiative funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). It offers undergraduates from across the United States the chance to conduct cutting-edge research projects in various disciplines. These programs typically take place at universities during the summer, providing participants with hands-on research experiences under the guidance of experienced faculty members. REU programs foster collaboration, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills, giving students an invaluable head start in their STEM careers.

Broad Summer Scholars Program at MIT and Harvard

The Broad Summer Scholars Program is a research-focused program for high school students interested in biomedical research. Offered jointly by MIT and Harvard University, this program allows participants to join a laboratory and work on an original research project in areas such as genetics, neuroscience, or computational biology. Scholars gain insights into the process of scientific discovery, learn advanced laboratory techniques, and have the opportunity to present their work at the conclusion of the program.

Columbia University Science Honors Program (SHP)

The Columbia University Science Honors Program is a selective and rigorous STEM enrichment program for talented high school students in the New York City area. This program offers advanced courses in subjects like mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry, and computer science, taught by Columbia's renowned professors and researchers. SHP also provides unique research opportunities, competitions, and mentorship, fostering a supportive community of like-minded students.

UC Berkeley's COSMOS

The COSMOS (California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science) program at UC Berkeley offers a transformative experience for high school students interested in math, science, and engineering. The program focuses on interdisciplinary research projects and provides exposure to cutting-edge topics such as nanotechnology, cryptography, and biomedical engineering. COSMOS participants learn from top-notch faculty, explore UC Berkeley's state-of-the-art facilities, and engage in collaborative learning with other motivated students.

Johns Hopkins Engineering Innovation

The Johns Hopkins Engineering Innovation summer program provides high school students with an immersive experience in various engineering disciplines. Hosted by the Whiting School of Engineering, this four-week program offers rigorous coursework, hands-on labs, and challenging projects. Participants learn from esteemed faculty and engage in critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork. This program gives students a taste of college-level engineering education and provides a foundation for future studies and career aspirations.

MIT LaunchX

For students with a keen interest in entrepreneurship and innovation, MIT LaunchX is an excellent choice. This program, hosted by the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), empowers high school students to develop their own startup ventures. Through a comprehensive curriculum and mentorship, participants gain knowledge in business fundamentals, product development, and marketing strategies. MIT LaunchX combines the best aspects of STEM and entrepreneurship, providing an immersive experience that allows students to turn their ideas into reality.

Stanford University AI4ALL

Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming various fields, and the demand for skilled AI professionals continues to rise. Stanford University AI4ALL introduces high school students to the world of AI through a four-week summer program. Participants explore AI concepts, engage in hands-on coding projects, and learn from leading AI researchers and practitioners. Stanford AI4ALL aims to increase diversity in the AI community and equip students with the skills they need to make a positive impact in this rapidly evolving field.

Google Computer Science Summer Institute (CSSI)

For aspiring computer scientists, the Google Computer Science Summer Institute (CSSI) offers an intensive residential program designed to immerse high school seniors in the world of computer science. Participants receive training in coding, build software projects, and explore various aspects of tech culture. The program also includes mentorship and professional development opportunities, enabling students to connect with engineers at Google. CSSI encourages students from underrepresented backgrounds to pursue careers in computer science, ultimately contributing to a more diverse and inclusive tech industry.

In conclusion, the summer programs outlined in this two-part article provide remarkable avenues for students passionate about STEM to explore and excel in their chosen fields. From hands-on research experiences to entrepreneurship and space exploration, these programs offer unparalleled opportunities. Engaging in such pre-college experiences opens doors to new knowledge, networks, and career pathways. So, if you're eager to fuel your STEM journey and unleash your potential, consider applying to one or more of these exceptional programs. Your future in STEM awaits!

Remember, the world needs bright minds like yours to lead the way in scientific breakthroughs, technological advancements, and innovative solutions to global challenges. Embrace these pre-college summer programs as steppingstones towards a successful STEM career. The possibilities are endless, and the impact you can have is immeasurable. Good luck, and may your journey in STEM be filled with exciting discoveries and boundless opportunities!

Justina Thompson

Justina Thompson

Justina "Farmer J" Thompson is the Farm Education and Volunteer Manager at Urban Creators, Philadelphia, PA. Justina intentionally attended school in Philadelphia so she could “connect her passion and experience to the ongoing environmental justice work in the area.” As a speaker, educational curriculum designer, program leader, and community organizer, Justina possesses extensive knowledge on urban farming inspired to work in the field of environmental justice from a young age.
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