Inside Rensselaer
Volume 6, No. 12, August 31, 2012


Classrooms and facilities were alive with students of all ages this summer

For the last seven years, Rensselaer’s Academic Outreach Programs office has offered numerous summer programs that focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.


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This summer, elementary, middle, and high school students—along with college students and K-12 teachers
—immersed themselves in a variety of credit courses, academic short courses, enrichment programs, and sports camps, including hockey, football, and basketball development camps for boys and girls.

Through “Summer@Rensselaer” and other departments on campus, offerings continue to expand. To make summer tuition as affordable as possible, currently enrolled undergraduate Rensselaer students were offered a significantly reduced per credit hour tuition charge than regular academic year tuition.

This year, classrooms came alive with students taking part in an aerospace engineering summer career exploration program, a computer game development academy, a chemistry and medicine summer scholars program, and an architecture career discovery program, as well as creative writing workshops, the Young Actors Guild programs, and much more.

Launched nearly 15 years ago, the Center for Initiatives in Pre-College Education continues to impact the national educational reform movement in many ways. The center works with area K-12 teachers and students, as well as local, statewide, and national organizations, to promote the use of robotics in the classroom. Within the program, students used LEGO Mindstorms robot technology to design, construct, and program robotic solutions to perform complex engineering challenges.

The Dean of Students Office (DOSO) hosted several pre-college STEM programs for K-12 students. Area middle school students enjoyed a heavy dose of STEM fun at the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp. The hands-on program offered students a fun way to beat the heat as they designed space suits, built rockets, and more, while experiencing life on a college campus.

This was the fifth year that Rensselaer has been selected to participate in the program. As part of the program, students focused on investigating the origins of life on Earth and the conditions that lead to the formation of habitable planets in our own and other solar systems through the New York Center for Astrobiology, which is based within the School of Science. Led by Douglas Whittet, center director and professor of physics, the interdisciplinary center, which is a member of the NASA Astrobiology Institute, brings together researchers from multiple fields of study at Rensselaer as well as collaborators from other institutions around the country.

DOSO also works with organizations around the country whose students are interested in pursuing STEM careers. Additional offerings included the PREFACE Program, which gives high school sophomores from underrepresented and underserved groups the opportunity to come to Rensselaer and experience what an engineering education can offer. The Rensselaer Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP), funded by Rensselaer and the New York State Education Department, provides underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students in area middle and high schools with an opportunity to develop problem-solving skills and a broad knowledge base prior to entry into post-secondary schools. This year STEP students worked to design and present an economic recovery plan for Schoharie County, an area that suffered extensive damage following last year’s hurricane and tropical storm.


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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 6, Number 12, August 31, 2012
©2012 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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