There is no better way to strengthen interest in STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Mathematics) subjects or careers than by working on a project under the mentorship of a university researcher. It is here that students are able to undertake detailed, focused investigation of challenging problems and to participate in many dimensions of the research process—opportunities rarely possible in schools. While these apprenticeships require great commitment, students who undertake them report that they are more enjoyable, more challenging, and more intellectually motivating.
Located on a beautiful arboretum campus, Michigan State University is one of the top 50 research institutions in the United States, and is an important center for teaching and research. While in residence at the university, participants spend the majority of their time working on research in one of the sciences, engineering or mathematics.
Admission to the seven-week program is based upon scholastic ability, maturity, evidence of interest in science, engineering, or mathematics and completion of specified high school courses in science and mathematics. At the time of application the student must be a junior in high school, in the upper 20 percent of high school classes, and have taken at least 3 years of college preparatory mathematics and 2, or more years of science. Approximately 24 participants, usually 16-18 years of age, will be selected. Room and board scholarships will be available to individuals based on financial need. Keep in mind also that financial aid to participants is sometimes available from schools, businesses, and service organizations in your community and you may wish to investigate these possibilities. Only US citizens and permanent residents currently in the 11th grade are eligible for the HSHSP summer program.
The HSHSP is designed as an enrichment program. It will provide experiences that will not typically be duplicated in high school or the first years of college. The primary objective of the HSHSP is to help students develop a deeper understanding of the process of inquiry. Other objectives include having students experience living away from home with peers who have diverse backgrounds but similar interests; acquainting students with life on a university campus; giving students the opportunity to make use of the intellectual, social, and other resources afforded by a university institution and community; and to assist students in learning about various careers and the preparations necessary to enter them.
High ability students frequently suffer from an absence of exposure to authentic experiences and challenge in their science and mathematics curriculum. Even in the best of high school science programs, there is not usually the opportunity for students to investigate a problem of interest in depth. The HSHSP attempts to identify and nurture interest and potential by providing numerous opportunities for participants to test their own talents, motivation, and emotional maturity and to experience growth in all of these areas. The program has provided a needed stimulus and over the years has received outstanding reviews from participants with respect to the way it prepares them, academically and emotionally, for the program of study they choose in college and beyond.
It is important to understand that the HSHSP is not designed to offer participants a fail-proof project that can be entered into subsequent science competitions; this is not the way authentic research proceeds. Its purpose is to give its participants the unique experience of carrying out research in a university setting and interacting, not only with professional scientists, engineers and mathematicians but with peers who have similar interests. That said, over the past years, many of our participants have subsequently done well in a variety of local, state, regional, and national science competitions including those sponsored by Westinghouse, Intel, and Siemens. Many participants also fare well in the International Science and Engineering Fair. More than 95% of HSHSP participants go on to major in science, mathematics or engineering, attending such outstanding colleges and universities as Harvard, MIT, Cal Tech, Princeton, Brown, Yale, Dartmouth, University of Michigan, Stanford, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, UNC and Michigan State, among others; many are established nationally and internationally recognized researchers.
Comments of former participants include the following:
- I have encountered a situation most people would not normally experience until their graduate studies....
- The interaction with others who shared my interests and capabilities was unique and wonderful....
- Lectures and discussions provide a view of other areas of science, thus making the program well rounded....
- The social atmosphere was very relaxed and comfortable....
- The research experience is exceptional. Being on a college campus prepares you for college....
- I now have an incredible respect for researchers: for their perseverance, intuition, and character....
- The HSHSP represents a once-in-a-lifetime experience! I have learned things that I will use for a long time to come, and I have made friends I will treasure forever....
Students spend the day working individually in their research areas. The typical weekday schedule is as follows:
- Breakfast (7-8:30am)
- Research - Individual research projects in laboratories Approx. 8:30-12:00, 1:00-5:30 pm (Lunchtime is flexible, in light of varying research responsibilities)
- Dinner (5:30-7:00)
- After-dinner Discussions, Seminars, Class & Special Activities 7:00-9:00 pm Monday, Wednesday
Each participant, once accepted will indicate a preference for a research area from a list of general descriptions. Subsequent discussion with the faculty advisor upon arrival will determine the specific research project and procedure. Each participant works on a research project which is part of the mentor’s research program but which provides independence for the participant. The participant is guided by faculty, staff and graduate students who themselves are researchers in this area.
Additional program activities include:
- daily record-keeping
- research proposal and final report writing
- use of the science reference library, use of lab safety procedures
- a visit to the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory/FRIB and campus observatory/planetarium
- discussions about college admissions and scholarships and careers in science
- discussions of careers in science and personal factors which govern career
- discussions of scientific responsibility and implications of scientific discovery
- conference-style research presentations by students and program evaluation
Students will be required to give a presentation in their high school science class or another appropriate forum, about their research project and program experience upon returning home. Preparation of their project for a local or national science fair also will be encouraged.
Professor Gail Richmond, Professor of Science & Urban Education, College of Education, Michigan State University.
In addition to Dr. Richmond, there is a senior faculty advisor or mentor for each participant. The faculty mentor is central to the orientation of the participant's research. (S)he selects lab techniques for the project and may assign supervisory personnel. The participant learns different methods to attack the problem, how to define a scientific problem, how to recognize errors when they occur, and to benefit from them. The mentor is the one who outlines the objectives of research and best explains theory. Students will also likely work on a daily basis with other researchers in the mentor’s research group. These individuals may include postdoctoral research associates, graduate students, undergraduate science majors, and technicians.
Upper-level undergraduate or graduate students selected by Dr. Richmond who have backgrounds in science and in research will also serve as program counselors for the HSHSP. Residence hall staff also are available to ensure the safety of program participants and work with program counselors to design and oversee social activities.
Available campus activities include visiting lecturers, dramatic events, musical performances, films, and planetarium programs. There are facilities for canoeing, swimming, tennis, and team sports. The participants, counselors, and the program director plan together for a number of activities.
Participants will be housed in a residence hall in which there are common lounge, recreational, and dining areas. The living and recreational aspects of the program will be under the direction of two residence counselors (one female and one male), selected by Dr. Richmond and who typically have a background in science and in education.
Students will be housed in the residence hall, two per room, near students attending other academically-oriented programs. Applicants should be aware that residence hall social regulations are much less permissive for high school programs than for college undergraduates. Residence hall regulations are strictly enforced. Any serious infraction of these rules will result in the participant being sent home.
Summer Youth Dormitory Regulations
Participants who violate these regulations will be subject to disciplinary action; if the action is deemed serious enough, it may result in the participant being sent home.
- Use or possession of alcoholic beverages, illegal drugs, fireworks or other explosives, dangerous weapons or substances, is strictly prohibited.
- Intentional damage or theft of university or personal property is strictly prohibited. Disciplinary action will include remuneration.
- Members of the opposite sex, excepting parents or guardians, are not permitted in participants' living areas. The formal lounges and public meeting rooms are not considered part of the living area.
- The residence halls will be closed at 11:00 pm. All program participants must be inside the hall by this time, as the building will be locked and must be in their rooms by midnight. Room checks will be done by residence hall staff at midnight each evening.
If this program is to have the advantage of living on campus, there is no alternative to accepting these rules. Personal lifestyle is an important consideration, and we hope that yours is compatible with the program as described.
Michigan State University
The 5,100-acre East Lansing campus is one of the most beautiful campuses in the nation. The Red Cedar River bisects the northern 2,000 acres which encompass the most developed area of the campus. Much of the southern portion functions as experimental farms, forests, and natural areas for instruction and research.
Biological research at MSU has focused on molecular biotechnology, food production, genetic diseases, environmental toxicology, new man-made plant species, and pest control systems that reduce hazards to the environment. MSU is the site of a national plant biology center supported by the US Dept. of Energy. It is the site of the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station with more than 400 research projects and over 300 scientists. Three medical colleges (Human, Osteopathic and Veterinary) are located here, as well as a College of Law. Research in the physical and chemical sciences also encompasses a wide variety of fields. The nation's premier National Superconducting Cyclotron (NSCL) and FRIB (Facility for Rare Isotope Beams) is located on the campus, as well as a Center for Material Sciences, Electron Optics Center, several biotechnology and plastics technology centers, and a state-of-the-art Biophysical Sciences Building.
The university is accessible by car, Amtrak, or transcontinental bus. Capitol City Airport is about 8 miles west of the campus. Flight time from New York is about 3 hours. Daily flights by such carriers as Delta, Southwest, and United Airlines to and from Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Newark and Chicago connect the airport to every major metropolitan area.
March 1 - Students should have all of their application materials (including need-based financial aid forms) received by this date.
May 1 - The program should be filled by this date.
June 1 - All program fees due.
June 21 - Registration and orientation. Students may arrive at any time between 1-6pm. Orientation begins promptly at 7 pm.
August 8 - Program ends. Students may leave any time on this date before 2 pm.
For application information please visit the Applying to HSHSP page.
Recent participants are an excellent source of information and can answer questions if you wish to contact them. Several such individuals and contact e-mails are below.
West Hartford, CT