STEM I for Middle School Students - SPARK: Program Details
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) | Explore. Discover. Achieve.
To keep up with the energy of our younger students, we make sure to provide a variety of experiences within the SPARK Program—a strong academic component, community building elements, hands-on STEM activities, and recreational co-curricular experiences.
SPARK courses expose students to the intellectual concepts and processes of STEM-based 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 phenomena.
SPARK students learn from the ground up by first focusing on the basics and then by continuously reaching further to gain a 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 professionals conduct research and make discoveries.
SPARK courses will require some out-of-class work that will be conducted during the student's free time. The two-week courses will include an assignment to be conducted over the long weekend and all second one-week courses will include a "pre-assignment" that will be provided to students to accommodate for missing one extra day of class due to the July 4th holiday.
Carefully developed and age-appropriate 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.
In addition to the academic components of the program, we offer a number of extracurricular opportunities to further challenge our students ingenuity and problem-solving skills. Additional STEM exploration through design challenges or experiments will be offered in which students can learn through experience, work effectively as part of a team and demonstrate success. Other extracurricular activities include lectures on current research at Brown University, and a field trip to explore STEM in action.
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!
SPARK Student Goals:
- Gain a better understanding of the complexity of solutions needed to solve some of the greatest challenges we face today, and learn skills and strategies to understand and tackle the future
- Learn from current faculty and graduate students about their research and begin to explore possible career opportunities
- Learn the art of teamwork by engaging in meaningful discussions and group projects
- Think about how using STEM can make the world a better place while considering issues of social responsibility
- Connect with other students who love learning as much as you do, and make lasting friendships
- Gain self-confidence, broaden your horizons and prepare yourself for high school, college, and beyond
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