SPARK -- Science Program for Middle School Students
SPARK is a program for talented middle school students who seek to spend one or two weeks at an Ivy League university. Although the admission to the SPARK program is competitive, once admitted, the program is held in a non-competitive fashion. The 13 courses of the SPARK program are intended to expose students to the intellectual concepts and processes of science topics of general interest. The courses are inquiry based and experiential. Students conduct their own experiments, learn science through guided inquiry, and engage in critical thinking. They learn science in a constructivist manner, which means that they first focus on the basics of the subject area and then build up their knowledge in a logical and stepwise manner until they reach a deep understanding of the more complicated concepts. In addition to spending three hours per day in classes, the students take part in extra-curricular activities where they interact with students from other courses. The extra-curricular activities consist of field trips, other more general science experiments, and lectures on diverse topics. SPARK students live in university dorms, share their living space, and learn to respect others. In addition to learning science, the objective for those students is to build confidence and ensure readiness for high school.