I want to let you know about MassBay Community College’s summer STEM programs held at the Wellesley Hills campus. I’ll start with the high school program called Summer Bridge. It’s an affordable and high-quality summer STEM program for high school students. My friend’s daughter, Maisie, attended and she raved about the program. Maisie had such a great experience that I want to share the details about all of their STEM programs.
I asked Maisie why she wanted to attend a summer STEM program and she said that she was interested in computer science. She had tried learning the basics from a book but she thought the author moved too fast into advanced concepts. She was frustrated by the experience, and so when her mom found MassBay’s program on my Summer STEM camp list, Maisie thought it sounded like a fun program and a good way to learn from instructors in a hands-on environment.
What high school students learn at MassBay
Maisie was impressed by how many things she learned in such a short amount of time. She said that the instructors used a variety of teaching methods, including hands-on learning, team projects, lectures, step-by-step handouts, one-on-one assistance, and diagramming on the whiteboard. By the end of the program, she had gained experience in these four key areas:
2) She learned to program robots using a Raspberry Pi computer and Python coding.
3) She learned to use the Scratch programming language and worked on projects directly on MIT’s Scratch website.
4) She learned to create her own Android app using App Inventor and created a drawing app which allowed her to take pictures and then draw on top of them using a variety of functions.
I asked her what she enjoyed the most and she said, “Making new friends who were into the kind of stuff I like (computers).” I loved hearing that she met new friends, with similar tech interests, and that she now wants to learn more about Python and other languages, like Ruby. She added that when she grows up, she wants to be a “successful computer scientist.”
I asked Maisie’s mom, Kathy, what she thought about the program and she could not have been happier. She shared, “The program totally exceeded my expectations. Maisie had MassBay professors and students teaching, most of whom were women! It was great for her to see other women who have chosen this field.” She added, “They integrated science with art and I was really surprised by how creative and technical the projects were.”
Kathy also said they held a showcase each Friday so parents could see all the amazing projects the kids worked on. She said that Maisie plans to attend again this year along with her sister who will participate in the middle school program.
About the MassBay programs
I wanted to learn more about these programs from MassBay and had the opportunity to talk with Hannah Riggs, STEM SSA Academic Program Coordinator, who told me that the high school program was launched in 2012 and the middle school program in 2013.
Hannah shared that the goal of the programs is for students to explore topics that will both “challenge them and bring them joy.” The curriculum is centered on introducing exciting technologies and subjects that appeal to students and topics instructors are passionate about. There is also a strong emphasis on teamwork and collaboration to demonstrate what the real world is like.
Who teaches the classes?
The for-credit high school courses and middle school workshops are taught by MassBay professors, occasionally an instructor from another institution, and often MassBay teaching assistants who have expertise in the field of the course.
The non-credit high school workshops are developed and run primarily by MassBay students with experience and passion for the subject they are teaching. I think this is a great approach and benefits both the student teachers and students– I find that high school students really enjoy interacting with college students.
Hannah explained that the programs have been a big success. She said, “Whether students leave feeling that they may want to pursue a STEM major or career in the future, if they are less intimidated by STEM subjects and have more confidence in themselves, or if they simply have a few weeks making friends, having fun, and thinking creatively, we will consider the program a success.”
Hannah added that the program culminates in a STEM Expo where students have the opportunity to present their projects to their friends, family, faculty, staff and community, as well as receive completion certificates and prizes. She said, “It is always amazing to see how much the students can learn and accomplish in just a few weeks.”
Details for Summer Programs (Wellesley Hills Campus)
- STEM Summer Bridge for High School Students: 1 week, five workshops. Cost: $300
- High School STEM Program for College Credit — iCREAT: 1 week, earn college credit. Cost: $100
- Middle School STEM Summer Program: 1 week. Cost: $450
Image Credit: MassBay