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Summer Education Programs

Students of all ages spent time on campus this summer

While the dog days of summer are fast becoming a distant memory, it’s a good time to look back at the summer education experience that Rensselaer provided to individuals of all ages. This year,more than 1,300 elementary, middle, high school, and college students, along with working professionals and K-12 teachers, immersed themselves in a plethora of credit courses, academic short courses, sports camps, and enrichment programs.

Experiences ran the gamut, from working alongside faculty to unlock the secrets of how chemistry plays a central role in discovering new medicine, to exploring the origins of life on another planet, or to using LEGO Mindstorms™ robot technology to teach that science and engineering can be fun. Other students had the opportunity to get a head start on college courses or travel on faculty-led study abroad opportunities, while some learned the art of acting, participated in customized short courses and professional development programs, or worked alongside faculty to hone teaching skills in the science classroom.

“Rensselaer continues to be committed to preparing students to successfully pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers,” said Cynthia Smith, assistant dean of students and director of pipeline initiatives and partnerships. “We believe the path to academic and career success starts long before a student reaches college. We are also working to build a national network of K-12 pipeline partnerships within the Institute and beyond that focus on identifying, nurturing, and providing educational support for underrepresented minority and economically disadvantaged groups to prepare them to successfully pursue STEM careers.”

Throughout the academic year and into the summer, the Dean of Students Office (DOSO) hosted several pre-college initiatives for K-12 students, including the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp, the STEP program, PREFACE, and the Harlem Academy. This year, students participating in DOSO programs focused on investigating the origins of life on Earth and the conditions that led to the formation of habitable planets in the solar system, rocketry, introduction to electronics, manufacturing processes, and engineering design, as well as themes related to game development, alternative energy, and the conservation of energy.

The Academic Outreach Programs office within Undergraduate and Graduate Education offered numerous programs, including  a variety of literature, communication, writing, and physics courses; undergraduate research opportunities, and 14 summer enrichment and sports programs for elementary, middle school, and high school students. In addition, new residency programs included the Engineering Summer Exploration and Chemistry and Medicine Summer Scholars program. This year, more than 900 individuals registered for enrichment programs and more than 400 enrolled in credit course offerings.           

“Summer@Rensselaer has had a banner year,” said Kari Bennett, senior program administrator in Academic Outreach Programs. “Since the centralization of summer programs in 2006, we broke our record for the number of enrolled credit hours and offered two new highly successful enrichment programs. We also look forward to continuing our partnership with Rensselaer Athletics and offering additional sports camps in the future, as well as increasing our high school residential programs, which continue to act as feeders for our undergraduate degree programs.”

The Center for Initiatives in Pre-College Education (CIPCE) ran several Robotics Academies for youths ages 8-16 on campus through Summer@Rensselaer, in addition to a series of off-campus programs affiliated with area schools and communities.

“CIPCE offered summer professional development programs for K-12 teachers on the use of interactive technology in the classroom,” said Paul Schoch, director of CIPCE and associate professor in the Department of Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering. “Students in the academies learn to build and program robots with the LEGO® robotics and the VEX® robotics systems. These students see that science, math, and technology can be applied using robotics to solve problems, encouraging them to pursue education in the STEM fields.”

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Inside Rensselaer, Strategic Communications and External Relations
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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 5, Number 15, October 7, 2011
©2011 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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