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10 Summer Research Programs for Middle School Students

If you’re a middle schooler interested in research and exploring concepts beyond yout school curriculum this summer, a summer research program should definitely be on your radar! These programs offer hands-on research experience in various fields such as biology, physics, technology, environmental science, and more. 

Participating in a research program will allow you to conduct experiments, collaborate on projects under the guidance of experts, and mingle with like-minded peers. Additionally, gaining practical research experience as early as middle school can boost your profile for college applications and help develop your critical thinking and problem-solving skills, enhancing your future academic and career prospects.

Such experiences will also allow you to explore potential career paths in your chosen field and help you structure your extracurriculars in high school accordingly. 

It can be a bit challenging to find the program that best fits your needs. To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best summer research programs for middle school students!

Location: U.C. Berkeley Campus, CA

Cost: Tuition fee is $1,350 and the optional residential add-on cost is $1,150; the program offers a subsidized price for families in need with the tuition and residential fee reduced to $1,215 and $1,035 respectively. The tuition fee covers meals on campus; financial aid is also available.

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in May.

Dates: June 24 to June 28, 2024

Eligibility: Rising 7th–9th graders can apply.

The Lawrence Hall of Science at U.C. Berkeley is a unique research opportunity for middle school students looking to dive into the wonders of STEM firsthand! This one-week research program offers immersive experiences, hands-on experiments, and exciting campus tours designed to spark curiosity and ignite a passion for STEM. As a participant in this research program, you’ll get to experience engaging lab sessions, interactions with faculty and students, and exposure to diverse STEM career paths—the Lawrence program provides a dynamic learning environment for you to refine your technical skills. 

There are four programs available for middle school students with all programs including a research component in the curriculum: 

By participating in this program, you’ll not only acquire knowledge but also gain invaluable skills across a spectrum of STEM areas. Each of these programs can equip you with a deeper understanding of science and tangible experiences to enrich your future college and career journey significantly.

Location: Virtual

Cost: $1990 (Financial aid is available)

Application Deadline: Multiple deadlines throughout the year. The upcoming summer cohort deadline is June 26, 2024. 

Dates: The upcoming Summer 2024 cohort starts on July 15 and runs for 8 weeks.

Eligibility: Students in grades 6–8 can apply.

The Lumiere Junior Explorer Program is an 8-week opportunity for middle school students to work one-on-one with a mentor, 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. 

During this program, spanning weeks 1 to 4, you will delve into four distinct topics within your selected track. In weeks 5 and 6, the focus intensifies as you embark on a deep dive into one specific topic area, and finally, weeks 7 to 8 are dedicated to project implementation, where you will receive guidance and support from your mentor as you bring your project to life.

You can find the application form here

Location: Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

Cost: $75 application fee; $895 for the commuter program (inclusive of lunch); $1,995 for the residential program (only for Session 2). Need-based scholarships are available.

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in May.

Dates: Session 1: July 8 to July 12, 2024 | Session 2: July 15 to July 19, 2024

Eligibility: Students in grades 7 or 8 can apply. Students must also submit test scores with their MST application.

The Mathematics, Science, and Technology program at Michigan State University (MST@MSU) is a one-week summer program for academically inclined middle school students interested in STEM. The program offers both commuter and residential programs where you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the subjects and get to participate in hands-on interdisciplinary research using tools of mathematics, science, and technology. You can check out the track options for both sessions here.  

The program covers various research topics such as: composing an original piece of music with and without technology, studying the basic techniques of mathematical proof and the logic behind them, or learning about whole-body integrative physiology (including how to test and document your findings). The program can be a deeply enriching experience for you as it aims to challenge the intellectual abilities of talented middle schoolers with rigorous and intensive coursework — further advancing your knowledge and interest in STEM subjects.

Location: Stony Brook University, Long Island, NYC

Cost: $650 program fee; financial aid is available.

Application Deadline: Applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Dates: July 15 to 25, 2024

Eligibility: Students entering grades 7–9 in September 2024 can apply.

The Stony Brook University Science Exploration Program is a prestigious program for middle schoolers with a passion for science and research. This academic program aims to complement your science curriculum at school and stimulate your thinking, research, and experimentation. The program is centered around laboratory work, but it will also include activities such as reading, computer research, writing, and group projects.

  • Seventh graders will hone their laboratory skills through experiments in physics, chemistry, microbiology, and ecology. 

  • Eighth graders will delve into biology, chemistry, biotechnology, and environmental chemistry, using case studies to explore complex concepts such as Cholera and Bioremediation, all within the framework of homeostasis and environmental interactions. 

  • Ninth graders will focus on biology and research skills, working in groups to investigate botany, microbiology, genetics, and molecular biology. 

As only 24 students per grade level are accepted into the program, students are expected to be curious and hardworking. These experiences will introduce and reinforce skills and concepts that will prepare you for high school science coursework. This program will also help develop your problem-solving skills by working through instructions both in a group and independently.

Location: NYU Tandon School of Engineering, Brooklyn, NY

Cost: Free for all accepted participants.

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in April.

Dates: July 8 to August 2, 2024

Eligibility: Students who are NYC residents and 12 years old by the start of the program but not older than 14 can apply.

The Science of Smart Cities (SoSC) is a comprehensive three-week program on utilizing computer science, engineering, and technology to make cities more safe and sustainable. Through interactive activities, you’ll get to delve into topics like coding, physical sciences, and urban planning. You will also learn how science and engineering address real-world problems with innovative solutions, including the use of microcontrollers, sensors, circuitry, and electronics.

Mentored by NYU School of Engineering students, you’ll get to build smart city models while incorporating the various STEM concepts you’ve learned. The program ends with a final presentation, where you will present your creative solutions and projects to experts and the public. The SoSC can help you enhance STEM skills and awareness, preparing you for future roles in city planning and technology. 

Location: Carnegie Mellon University College of Engineering, Pittsburgh, PA

Cost: Free for all accepted participants; housing/transportation is not covered.

Application Deadline: Applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Dates: June 24 to 28, 2024 

Eligibility: Rising 8th and 9th graders can apply. 

The Summer Engineering Experience (SEE) is a week-long summer experience meant to bring various engineering concepts to rising 8th and 9th graders. SEE aims to give students hands-on experience in different forms of engineering. In addition to educational presentations throughout the week, you will have to complete two projects primarily utilizing items readily available in your household. 

For the first session, the first project is a structured assignment that will be completed by the entire group throughout the week. The second project will be completed individually within smaller groups, allowing for more unique and innovative ideas. The program will help you hone your skills in problem-solving, critical thinking, and design concepts. It will also give you practical experience in developing innovative and creative solutions for real-world problems.

Location: Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA.

Cost: $400 to $650 per participant; Needs-based scholarships of up to 75% are available.

Application Deadline: The deadline varies depending on the program.

Dates: Varies depending on the program; typically from June to July.

Eligibility: Rising 6th–8th graders can apply.

CEISMC Summer P.E.A.K.S. (Programs for Enrichment and Accelerated Knowledge in STEAM) are one- to two-week residential programs designed to increase Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM) knowledge through various educational activities. The programs curated for middle school students give students a chance to enhance learning during the summer through hands-on activities at Georgia Tech! Summer P.E.A.K.S. covers topics like coding, 3D game design, engineering basics, data science, engineering, AI, psychology, film production, and more. You can register for the available courses here.

Programs are taught by a mixture of Georgia Tech faculty, staff, students, and area science and math teachers. By participating in this program, you can choose from a variety of courses based on your interest — you can learn to code, investigate energy generation, follow industrial engineers, and even study film production! You can check out an in-depth review of the CEISMC Summer P.E.A.K.S. here.

Location: University of California, San Diego, CA; some programs are offered virtually.

Cost: Courses range from $175 to $450; Financial aid is available.

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in May for all courses.

Dates: 4-day sessions are held every week between July 8 and August 2, 2024; available courses differ from week to week; students can choose only one course per week..

Eligibility: Open to all middle and high school students.

The Sally Ride Science Academy Summer Program provides engaging workshops spanning various topics. From core STEM areas such as computer science, robotics, engineering, and biology, to specific fields like filmmaking, business, financial literacy, or gemology. During the program, you get hands-on experience by participating in workshops such as A Dose of Pharmacreations, Adventures Under the Sea, Around the World in Business, Filmmaking, and more.

Guided by experienced educators and scientists, the interactive sessions aim to foster your academic interests, enhance your critical thinking abilities, and encourage teamwork through projects. Both in-person and online sessions of three hours each are available depending on your chosen course. Faculty from the university teach the different courses offered, giving you a chance to learn first-hand from college professors, sample undergraduate life, and make connections with them. The program allows you to attend multiple courses during the summer and gain experience in a variety of fields. You can read our in-depth review of the Sally Ride Science Academy Summer Program here.

Location: NYU Tandon School of Engineering, Brooklyn, NY

Cost: Free for all accepted participants.

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in April.

Dates: July 8 to August 2, 2024; Orientation on June 28 via Zoom.

Eligibility: Students who live in New York City and are age 12 by the start of the program but not older than 14 can apply.

The Sounds of New Your City (SONYC) program at NYC is an innovative platform designed to ignite and enrich students' passion for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Through a diverse curriculum crafted to explore the fields of engineering, physical and computer sciences, as well as natural phenomena such as waves and sound, SONYC fosters a profound understanding and appreciation for these disciplines.

This program is all about active engagement and exploration where you’ll get to participate in research focusing on the intricate workings of microcontrollers, sensors, and various hardware components. It will allow you to unravel the mysteries of circuitry, electronics, coding, and gain insights into how scientists and engineers apply fundamental principles to tackle real-world challenges. You’ll also get to demonstrate your skills and knowledge by creating actual smart city technologies that you will present at an end-of-program expo.

Location: Live sessions via Zoom

Cost: $2,695

Application Deadline: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Dates: July 15 to August 2, 2024

Eligibility: Students aged 12 to 18 are eligible to apply.

If you are a middle school student who wants to explore how data is used in various areas, from social media trends to environmental changes, the UC Berkeley Coding Academy is a good option for you. The AI Applications program focuses on the Python code behind AI — You will learn to classify images, detect astronomical objects, recommend movies and music, generate text, and generate images to detect deep fakes. With a focus on Deep Learning, you’ll get to build CNNs, RNNs, LLMs, GANs, and more. During the program, you’ll also get to complete several mini-projects and a special final project of your choice.

Moreover, you will receive permanent access to the Berkeley Coding Academy suite which includes over 100 4K Data Science videos, over 100 Colab Notebooks, over 100 slides, and all additional materials that students and instructors create for this class. For the advanced cohort, proficiency in Python at the level of writing functions and accessing libraries via dot notation is required. However, the beginner cohort is for students who are new to coding/Python. You can select the cohort according to your preference on the application form.

One other option — Veritas AI

Location: Virtual

Cost: AI Trailblazers costs $1,790 | AI Junior Fellowship costs $2,900. Need-based financial aid is available.

Application Deadline: The upcoming Summer cohort deadline is June 23, 2024.

Dates: The AI Trailblazers runs for a total of 25 hours over 10 weekends and the AI Junior Fellowship runs for 12 weeks. Upcoming Summer cohort dates can be found here.


  • AI Trailblazers—Students in grades 6--8 can apply.

  • AI Junior Fellowship—High school and advanced middle school students can apply.

Veritas AI is an online program tailored for middle and high school students and founded and run by graduates from Harvard University. For middle schoolers, there are two distinct paths available. The first is the AI Trailblazers boot camp, where you’ll get to learn the basics of artificial intelligence and machine learning, alongside foundational Python skills. You will engage in practical AI projects spanning fields such as medicine, finance, and autonomous vehicles under the guidance of mentors from leading universities. This option is particularly suitable for beginners. The program runs for a total of 25 hours over 10 weekends. 

Alternatively, for those who have completed the boot camp or possess prior Python experience, the AI Junior Fellowship can be a great opportunity. Over 12 weeks, you’ll collaborate one-on-one with a mentor to develop your own project or research paper. This avenue offers a compelling platform to explore AI within the context of various disciplines, enabling students to exhibit their enthusiasm and skills. 

Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a PhD student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.

Image Source: UC Berkeley logo



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