As summer programs and opportunities are cancelled in the wake of COVID-19, leaving countless students without summer plans, an internationally-acclaimed teacher from New York is teaming up with top students from Harvard, Stanford, MIT, and other elite universities to launch a new virtual learning opportunity.
The program is open to high school students worldwide, making it a prime resource for international students interested in both science and learning more about U.S. universities. Dr Serena McCalla, director of the iResearchInstitute summer research program, will bring her summer high school research program to a virtual setting through the Summer STEM Institute (SSI).
Here’s a link to the program website
SSI consists of three components: (1) a research and data science “bootcamp”, (2) a “Masterclass” lecture series which features over 10 Harvard students and graduates, and (3) a research project with mentors including International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) winners.
The bootcamp program is designed to make learning research skills, computer programming, and data analysis accessible to students. The curriculum features a course in scientific thinking and communication based on Dr McCalla’s 12-years of experience as an award-winning science educator. There is also a course on programming and data science taught by Stanford course assistants Adam Pahlavan and Alex Tsun.
SSI founders want to bring their elite educational opportunity to students of all backgrounds. Since the program is completely virtual, international students are welcome to participate. The program also offers financial aid to students in need.
The goal of the bootcamp, according to Dr McCalla, is to “train students to conduct computational research in a wide variety of interdisciplinary scientific fields.” Dr McCalla believes that no matter what field of science you enter, learning how to program and work with data will be an extremely marketable and differentiated skill to have in a future being revolutionized by technology, computers, and data.
She said that “a significant number of [her] students who go on to be successful entrepreneurs, business-women, and technologists were the “kids who were coding and working with data in high school”
and she expects that association to only strengthen in the future.
The second part of the program is a one-of-a-kind Masterclass young adult speaker series which will host over 35 extremely accomplished young adults, drawing from a pool of the very top students at elite institutions such as Harvard, Stanford, and MIT. The goal of the Masterclass series is to “share the wealth of knowledge of extremely successful young entrepreneurs, scientists, and technologists who were high school students not too long ago.”
The Masterclass series is drawing from a pool of the highest-achieving students at the top universities in the world such as Harvard University, Stanford University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Many of these speakers bring diverse accomplishments and experiences, including two first-place national winners of the Intel/Regeneron Science Talent Search (STS) Amol Punjabi and Indrani Das, Forbes 30 Under 30 awardee Jessica Pointing, and Rhodes Scholar Luke Melas-Kyriazi.
After interviewing multiple members, we found that the most innovative part of the summer program is the mentored research project. SSI has developed a new framework to make conducting science research projects accessible in a completely virtual setting. SSI will guide and connect students to scientific literature, public datasets, and support their project design from inception to completion in a topic area of interest. International students will learn how to effectively communicate their science and engineering projects, giving them a chance to implement their English skills. Masterclass speaker and Harvard student, Franklyn Wang, said that he was “impressed by how simple and easy to learn [SSI] is making the process of doing significant research with publicly available datasets.”
Although this is the first year that SSI is running online, Dr McCalla is no stranger to science research. She has served as the science research coordinator at Jericho High School in New York, and over the past decade, her program has produced a record-breaking 74 semi-finalists and 12 finals in the Intel/Regeneron Science Talent Search and 60+ International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) finalists.
The SSI will run from 21st June to 1st August 2020. Applications are currently open to students worldwide and will close on 15th May. When asked, SSI responded that based on an unprecedented interest, admission to both programs will be competitive and expectedly applying for a research project to be more selective due to a limited number of projects and mentoring resources. In addition, decisions are being made on a rolling basis and interested students should apply as soon as they are ready. The admissions process is need-blind and offers financial aid.