Pre-College Programs
SPARK Students Engaged in the Classroom
SPARK Students Engaged in the Classroom
SPARK Students Engaged in the Classroom
SPARK Students Engaged in the Classroom
SPARK Students Engaged in the Classroom
SPARK Students Engaged in the Classroom

SPARK - Course Details

SPARK - Science for Middle School

There are several components to the SPARK Program.   The SPARK program has a strong academic component where students chose one or two of 20 courses, a leadership component, some hands-on science activities, and recreational activities. 


SPARK courses expose students to the intellectual concepts and processes of scientific topics that are taught at Brown University. The courses are “inquiry-based” and “experiential”.  The students conduct experiments, explore, and make their own discoveries.  Inquiry-based instruction means that the students themselves – by asking appropriate questions – seek out knowledge, information, and scientific truth.  This approach assures that the students gain a deep conceptual understanding of complex scientific phenomena. SPARK students learn science from the ground up by first focusing on the basics, and continuously reaching further to earn deep understanding of the more advanced concepts.  By exposing the students to this type of inquiry, they not only learn how to think critically, but also get hands-on experience of how scientists conduct research.  Choose your courses here.

SPARK Evaluations

SPARK courses do not have grades.  SPARK allows students to concentrate on learning and the process of scholarship, not your final grade.  All students who successfully complete their course(s) will receive a Course Performance Report and a Certificate of Completion.  


The leadership activities are woven throughout the two week period.  Students engage in teambuilding activities, do group work, and reflect on how scientists collaborate effectively.  By interacting with graduate students and postdoctoral fellows at Brown, students will learn about possible careers in science.  They will also learn about what it takes to take the lead in a group, and rise above the norm.  This goes beyond just being science-smart, and includes learning the importance of being an effective communicator through writing and persuasive speaking.  Additionally, students will be confronted with ethical dilemmas that scientists might encounter such as doing research on weapons or stem cells.  The objective is for students to grow into socially responsible and science-savvy citizens. 

Extracurricular Science Activities

In addition to spending three hours per day in their science classes and learning about leadership, students take part in extra-curricular activities where they interact with students from other courses. The extra-curricular activities include field trips, other more general science experiments referred to as “inquiry-activities”, and lectures on diverse topics such as Space-Time Travel, Neuroscience Fundamentals, or Elementary Particles. 

SPARK - Program Goals

For SPARK Students we have the following goals:

Science Goals

Leadership Goals

Personal Goals

List of SPARK Courses

Division into Junior and Senior SPARK Students

Typically the students range from ages 12 to 15 years.  Recognizing the academic and developmental differences between our students; we created an age appropriate program offering courses specifically geared toward students who have completed 6th and 7th grade (Junior SPARK) and for students who have completed 8th grade (Senior SPARK).  We strongly recommend that students enroll in courses that are specifically designed for their appropriate academic level. 

SPARK is a two week program.  From the list below please select either one two-week course or two one-week courses.

Junior SPARK

July 13 – 24 (two-week courses)

So You Want to be a Laboratory Scientist?

Aerospace Engineering and Rocket Science

July 13 – 17 (one-week courses)

July 20 – 24 (one-week courses)

Conservation of Endangered Species

Exploring the World of Marine Science

Understanding the Human Body: An Exploration of Anatomy

RobotC: An Introduction to Programming with Lego Robots

Exploring the Planets and Moons of our Solar System

Hurricanes, Global Warming and the Science of Weather

The Art of Statics: From Physics to Safe Engineering Structures at Rest  

From Brain to Sensation

Senior SPARK

July 13 – 24 (two-week courses)

DNA Science and Biotechnology

Star Wars Physics

July 13 – 17 (one-week courses)

July 20 – 24 (one-week courses)

Nanotechnology: The Small Wonder

Forensic Science: CSI Providence

Fatal Infections: Why Are Some Diseases Incurable?

Understanding the Human Body: An Exploration of Anatomy

From Brain to Sensation: Neurobiology of Perception

The Physics of Music and Neuroscience of Hearing

Engineering and Design

Everyday Mechanics and Special Relativity: From Earthly Speed to the Speed of Light

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