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10 Free Summer Programs for Middle School Students

In the absence of coursework and extracurricular activities, the summer after your academic year can be a vital period for middle school students to explore career-opening options. Not only can these opportunities provide you with new experiences and knowledge, but can also supplement your CV as a middle schooler and help you prepare for university. Getting started early on research and college preparation before you enter high school can help you stand out while applying to college, or rigorous research programs for high school students.  


In this blog, we have covered 10 free summer programs for middle school students. 


Location: MIT Campus 

Dates: August 14 - August 18,  2024 (rising 6th/7th graders) | August 21 - August 25, 2024 (rising 8th/9th graders)

Deadline: March 10, 2024

Eligibility: Rising 6th, 7th, 8th, or 9th grades


DynaMIT is an exciting, free summer program hosted by MIT aimed at stimulating interest in STEM among middle school students. Participants can expect an immersive experience that blends hands-on activities with engaging educational challenges in a collaborative environment. The program is designed to inspire curiosity and foster problem-solving skills through interactive projects and real-world applications of STEM principles.


Participants might find themselves on exploratory trips to cutting-edge labs on the MIT campus or engaging in group projects that culminate in presentations to peers and mentors. These components, along with the chance to experience life in one of the world's leading technical institutes, makes the program a wonderful opportunity, promising you a glimpse into what makes MIT’s culture truly special.


The Lumiere Junior Explorer Program is a program for middle school students to work one-on-one with a mentor to explore their academic interests and build a project they are passionate about.  Our mentors are scholars from top research universities such as Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Yale, Duke and LSE.


The program was founded by a Harvard & Oxford PhD who met as undergraduates at Harvard. The program is rigorous and fully virtual. We offer need-based financial aid for students who qualify. You can find the application in the brochure


To learn more, you can reach out to our Head of Growth, Khushi Malde, at khushi.malde@lumiere.education or go to our website.


Multiple rolling deadlines for JEP cohorts across the year, you can apply using this application link! If you'd like to take a look at the cohorts + deadlines for 2024, you can refer to this page! 

Financial aid is available!


Location: Purdue University Campus 

Dates: June 25 - June 28, 2024 

Deadline: May 1, 2024

Eligibility: Current students in grades 7 and 8


Purdue University's Physics Inside Out program offers an exhilarating opportunity for middle school students to delve deep into the world of physics. The program is structured to provide a hands-on, exploratory learning experience where participants engage in experiments and activities that reveal the principles of physics in everyday life. Students can expect to be challenged intellectually while enjoying the thrill of discovery and experimentation in a supportive and enriching environment.


One of the highlights of Physics Inside Out is the access participants get to Purdue’s renowned physics laboratories and research facilities. These visits allow students to see real-world physics applications and meet with university researchers and professors, providing a glimpse into the professional world of scientific inquiry. Additionally, the program includes special demonstration events and team projects that encourage collaboration and critical thinking.


Location: College & Career Lab

Dates: July 8 – August 2, 2024

Deadline: March 31, 2024

Eligibility: Students currently enrolled in the 7th or 8th grade at a New York City public school.


NYU College and Career Lab provides middle school students an explororation of future career paths and college life at an early age. This program is meticulously designed to offer a blend of academic enrichment, career exploration, and personal development. Participants engage in workshops and activities that cover a wide range of subjects, from arts and sciences to business and technology, facilitated by NYU’s expert faculty and staff.


A standout feature of the NYU College and Career Lab is the series of field trips to prominent New York City landmarks and institutions, which relate directly to the curriculum and offer practical insights into various professions. In addition, you'll connect with industry professionals and experience what it's like to be an immigration lawyer, physical therapist, and more. If a diverse summer experience is what you want, then CCL’s multidisciplinary approach should suit what you’re looking for.


Location: Columbia University campus

Dates: July 8, 2024, to August 2, 2024

Deadline: May 15, 2024 

Eligibility

  • Students enrolled in Grades 7 to 12.

  • A New York State Resident or a Permanent Resident residing in the state.

  • Economically disadvantaged*, or Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Alaskan Native or American Indian; and will benefit from academic enrichment.


Columbia University's State Pre-College Enrichment Program is an intensive academic enhancement program designed for students from underrepresented backgrounds who are interested in pursuing careers in medicine or related STEM fields. Their BRAINYAC program (Brain Research Apprenticeships In New York At Columbia) provides students an interest in biomedical and specifically neuroscience research with mentored research experience in a CUIMC neuroscience lab during the summer. Participants can expect a rigorous curriculum that includes science coursework, lab sessions, and workshops on college readiness and career exploration. The program aims to build foundational skills, enhance academic credentials, and provide insights into the medical and STEM professions through a structured series of classes and activities.


Notably, S-PREP includes several in-person components that enrich the learning experience, such as tours of Columbia’s medical facilities and research labs where students can observe real-world applications of their studies. Participants also have the opportunity to interact with Columbia University faculty, medical students, and professionals during special guest lectures and panel discussions. 


Location: Harvard Ed Portal

Dates: TBA

Deadline: TBA

Eligibility: Current 6th to 8th grade Harvard Ed Portal member (or Ed Portal eligible) who meets the age/grade requirements.


Harvard University Summer Explorations offers middle school students a way to dive into a variety of academic disciplines through interactive learning experiences directly on Harvard's campus. This program is designed to foster intellectual curiosity and academic growth by exposing students to a range of subjects including science, humanities, and the arts, all taught by Harvard-affiliated instructors. Admitted students will engage in stimulating coursework that encourages critical thinking and creative problem-solving, setting a foundation for future academic pursuits.


Students will have the opportunity to visit Harvard's extensive network of museums and libraries, gaining access to rare collections and research materials. Additionally, the program often includes guided tours of historical Boston, offering students a rich cultural experience alongside their academic activities. This is a perfect chance for students who are eager to learn more about Harvard’s culture of intellectual curiosity and engagement!


Location: NYU Campus

Dates: July 8 - August 4, 2024

Deadline: April 14, 2024

Eligibility: Eligible applicants will be students who live in New York City and are currently age 12 by the start of the program but not older than 14 on the day program begins. 


NYU Sounds of New York City (SONYC) is an amazing program for middle schoolers to engate with the urban soundscape of New York City through the lens of science and technology. Participants will explore how sound impacts urban environments and learn to use cutting-edge technology to collect and analyze audio data. 


SONYC includes field trips around New York City that are integral to its curriculum, providing real-world contexts for the concepts learned in the classroom. Luckily for those who value hands-on experience, students will participate in sound walks and site visits to various neighborhoods to record sounds that define the city’s auditory landscape. These activities not only enhance their technical skills in sound analysis but also foster a deeper appreciation for the environmental and social workings of urban life. This combination of technology, environmental science, and urban studies is a rare opportunity for many middle school students, who may choose to further study this area in their high school and college curriculum.


Location: Carnegie Mellon University Campus

Dates: June 24 - June 28, 2024

Deadline: April 10, 2024

Eligibility: Rising 8th and 9th graders who are able to commit to attending the program from 9 AM - 3 PM. 


Carnegie Mellon University's Summer Engineering Experience (SEE) provides a dynamic platform for middle school students to pursue engineering through immersive, hands-on projects. The program is designed to give participants a comprehensive introduction to the various engineering disciplines, including mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering, facilitated by CMU’s distinguished faculty. Students can expect to engage in exercises that simulate real-world engineering problems, fostering both their analytical and creative skills.


What makes SEE particularly interesting is its tours of cutting-edge research facilities and labs on the CMU campus, where students can see innovative engineering projects in action. These tours are complemented by guest lectures and workshops led by industry experts and faculty, providing students with insights into potential career paths in engineering. The opportunity to interact with professionals at the forefront of technological advancement, coupled with access to state-of-the-art facilities, makes SEE a compelling choice for aspiring engineers.


Location: North Carolina State University Campus

Dates: July 7-12, 2024 (ECSU) | July 14-19, 2024 (NCSSM-Durham)

Deadline: February 8, 2024

Eligibility: Current eighth grade students who are residents of North Carolina.


North Carolina State University's Step Up to STEM is an innovative summer program designed specifically for underrepresented minority students entering ninth grade, aiming to spark interest in the fields of STEM. Participants will be immersed in a curriculum that combines interactive STEM workshops, hands-on experiments, and collaborative projects, all facilitated by NC State's esteemed faculty and student mentors. 


For rising ninth graders, they will be engaged in an interdisciplinary science, mathematics, and biomedical engineering curriculum supported by a writing component. The program will also dive into biological systems and associated cellular processes. Enrichment activities outside of class time further develop students’ social and academic learning through on- and off- campus events and field trips. Past activities have included planetarium shows, hip hop writing workshops, attending baseball games, visits to labs, board game nights, sports, STEM career panels, ice cream socials, and tours of university campuses.


Location: Virtual / In-person TBD

Dates: Once a week for six weeks, ranging from the end of June to the first week of August. 

Deadline: June 30, 2024

Eligibility: Students identifying as female in grades 6-12.


The Summer Research Institute at Women's Alliance in STEM and Humanities is a remarkable program designed to encourage high school girls to explore their interests in science, technology, engineering, arts, and humanities. Participants engage in an intensive research experience where they work alongside university faculty and graduate students on ongoing projects, gaining hands-on experience and insights into academic research. 


This summer, the WASH SRI is offering three possible tracks to student researchers: microbiology & epidemiology, finance & cs, and quantum physics. Middle school students may have trouble finding such specific research opportunities elsewhere! During the program, students can expect once a week workshops ranging from 2-3 hours, covering everything from the fundamentals to the latest applications of each technology. At the end, mentors will grade each research project, and assist students with possible publication/continuation options.


Location: Virtual

Dates: July 8 - 26, 2024

Deadline: March 29, 2024

Eligibility: Low-income students in grades 6 or 7 who reside in and attend school in the United States.


The Stanford Middle School Scholars Program offers an educational experience designed to engage and challenge advanced middle school students. Through this program, participants dive deep into intellectually stimulating courses that cover a broad range of subjects, from “Democracy & Dissent” and “U.S. Social Movements through Graphic Novel” to “Real-Life Applications to Mathematics”. The courses are taught by Stanford-affiliated instructors who are committed to fostering a collaborative and enriching learning environment.


A particularly motivating aspect of SMSSP is the program’s emphasis on building a supportive community among young scholars. Students have the opportunity to connect with like-minded peers from diverse backgrounds, fostering friendships and collaborative networks that can last after summer ends. For students looking for a chance to challenge themselves academically, signing up for SMSSP may be the right fit for you. 


Our Thoughts

As you can see, there is a rich variety of academic and personal growth opportunities for middle school students in the summer. Each program is uniquely designed to not only enhance the educational experience through rigorous coursework and hands-on learning but also to cultivate a deeper understanding and appreciation of different academic fields. They not only foster critical thinking skills but also empower you by making you consider real-world applications and potential career paths, thus broadening your horizons as you venture into high school and beyond.



Lydia is currently a junior at Harvard University, studying Molecular and Cellular Biology and Economics. In high school, she was the captain of her high school’s Academic Decathlon team and attended the Governor's School of Engineering and Technology. She aims to become a life sciences consultant after graduation. 


Image Source: Purdue University logo

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