Programs Expose Teens to STEM Topics

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From LEGO robotics to mobile app development, the summer programs offered by the Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing (CEISMC) allow teenagers to delve into topics that aren’t usually covered in their middle and high school classes.

“Our programs have the capacity to show students that their interest in LEGO robotics, for example, has the potential to develop into a college major and even a career,” said Andrew Burch, education outreach coordinator for CEISMC. “We’ve found that our students really enjoy being in an environment that fosters advanced learning and allows them to dive into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) topics that are often unavailable in a typical classroom.”  

The center’s summer programs were established in 1991 to provide K-12 teacher professional development.

“Teachers would attend a three-week workshop with roughly 100 students arriving toward the end of the program so that the teachers could put their new skills and ideas to use in the classroom,” Burch said.

As CEISMC became more established, the focus of what is now called Programs for Enrichment and Accelerated Knowledge in STEM — or PEAKS — shifted to student outreach.
The programs are offered throughout June and July in one- and two-week increments from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day, with an extended care option available. This year 600 middle and high school students will participate in PEAKS, with about 15 percent of the attendees participating in multiple programs throughout the summer. 

Program instructors include Tech professors, graduate and undergraduate students, area teachers, CEISMC staff members and industry leaders and specialists.

Chris Thompson, associate director for technology and student activities at CEISMC, has been involved with PEAKS for three years and has been an instructor for the program focusing on mobile app/game development.

“During my program, the kids really enjoy building an app for the devices they love to play with,” Thompson said. “They also seem to enjoy impressing their parents with their creations. Working with these programs provides a wonderful way to see firsthand how children learn, and it’s a great way to give back to the community.”

Thompson also encourages any faculty members interested in working with the program to contact CEISMC.

“We provide great support for any faculty member who is interested in teaching a summer program for K-12 students,” he added. 

The cost of the one-week programs is $350 and the cost of the two-week programs is $650. Financial assistance is available on a needs basis.

The 2013 Summer PEAKS will be announced in December and online registration will open in February 2013. For more information, email



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