Pre-College Programs
SPARK Students Engaged in the Classroom

SPARK - Program Details & Goals

Explore, Discover, Achieve

To keep up with the energy of your young learner, we make sure to provide a variety of experiences within the SPARK Program—a strong academic component, a team building/leadership component, 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 then by continuously reaching further to gain deeper understanding of more advanced concepts. By being exposed to this type of inquiry, students not only learn how to think critically, but also get hands-on experience similar to how scientists conduct research and make discoveries.

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Effective leadership requires confidence without arrogance, knowing when to step up and when to step back, teamwork, and tenacity. To be a leader, students must know who they are and what’s really important. They need to be able to work through problems as part of a team and think outside the box to accomplish their goals. Teamwork requires the willingness to hear what each person has to offer and the ability to respectfully disagree. These are skills that take a lifetime to master, but each opportunity to practice brings students closer to becoming their best self. 

Carefully developed and age-appropriate cognitive and physical activities have been woven through the SPARK curriculum to provide students with opportunities to explore many facets of personal development. These activities are designed to encourage introspection and clarification of personal values, and to expand communication skills. A variety of non-competitive games and tasks are incorporated to develop team-building and creative problem solving skills. Students will also interact with graduate students and postdoctoral fellows at Brown to learn about some of the many possible careers in science and what it takes to get there.

Extracurricular Science Activities

To further engage students in the SPARK experience, we offer a number of extracurricular opportunities for them to explore. Additional science experiments—called inquiry activities—will be offered in which students can learn through experience. All inquiry activities are designed around modeling, designing, or testing hypotheses on topics such as parachute or hot air balloon design, catapult calibration, and building model wind turbines or sky scrapers.  Other extracurricular activities include lectures on diverse topics such as space-time travel, neuroscience fundamentals, or elementary particles, and a trip to the Museum of Science in Boston.

Recreational Activities

In the evenings, students have time to enjoy recreational activities with their peers, along with their SPARK Residential Assistants. In past years, activities have included laser tag, bowling, rock climbing, mini-golf, and a comedy show!

For SPARK Students, we have the following goals:

Science 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 among our students, we have created an age-appropriate program offering courses specifically geared toward students who have completed 6th or 7th grade (Junior SPARK) and for those 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)

July 13 – 17 (one-week courses)

July 20 – 24 (one-week courses)

Senior SPARK

July 13 – 24 (two-week courses)

July 13 – 17 (one-week courses)

July 20 – 24 (one-week courses)

Student Evaluations

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

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