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8 STEM Programs for Middle School Students

Middle school is an exciting time for students to explore their interests and develop their skills in various fields. If you are interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), there are numerous programs available to help you learn and grow. However, not everyone can commit the time and money needed for in-person programs usually held on university campuses.


In this article, we look at 8 online STEM programs for middle school students. Despite being remote, these virtual programs come with hands-on work or certifications that can go a long way in one’s academic profile. Let’s dive in!

 

Application deadline: Rolling

Eligibility:  Students in grades 6-8

Program dates: This is an 8-week program with a spring cohort in March and a summer cohort in June

Fee: $1,990

Financial assistance: Need-based financial aid is available   


The Lumiere Junior Explorer Program is a virtual program that offers one-on-one mentorship for middle school students. As a participant, you will work with a mentor to explore your academic interest and build a high-school level project in a specific topic. Completing a high-level project at a young age will be a definite boost to your academic profile. Available areas of research include subjects like AI, data science, biology, astrophysics, engineering and more. The program is designed to be flexible and personalized, with students meeting with their mentors for one hour per week for eight weeks.


Application deadline: Rolling

Eligibility: Students in grades 6-8

Program dates: 25 hours over 10 weeks (on weekends) during the spring and 25 hours over 2 weeks (on weekdays) during the summer cohort

Fee: $1,790

Financial assistance: Need-based financial aid available 


The AI Trailblazers program by Veritas AI is a virtual program that teaches middle school students the fundamentals of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Over the course of 25 hours, you will learn the basics of python as well as topics like data analysis, regression, image classification, neural networks, and AI ethics.  Students learn through lectures and group sessions with a 5:1 student to mentor ratio. In the end, you will work on a hands-on project with 3-4 other students. Previous projects have included building a machine learning model to classify music genres and creating a machine learning algorithm to provide a custom list of educational resources based on selected specifications.


Application deadline: Rolling

Eligibility: Students aged 12-18

Program dates: Both available tracks are 52 hour programs that take place over two weeks, occurring sometime in between June and August (on weekdays)  

Fee: $2,795

Financial assistance: Limited scholarships available  


The Berkeley Coding Academy is a virtual program that teaches middle school students the fundamentals of computer programming. Each cohort will have only 6-8 students and you will be assigned groups based on age and experience. There are two available tracks — Data Science to AI (which has no prerequisites) and the more advanced track, AI Applications (which requires prior knowledge of Python). The former focuses on learning Python code for AI, analyzing data, and building machine learning models. The latter emphasizes deep learning modules and building a range of neural networks. You can expect plenty of hands-on project work in both programs, which will be of value in the long term.


Application deadline: Rolling

Eligibility: All female students (each track has a different difficulty level)

Program dates: Self-paced, available year round

Fee: Free


Girls Who Code is a non-profit organization that offers numerous programs in computer science to students and educators. Code at Home isn’t a program but a series of activities that can be completed remotely, at your own pace. The range of options include learning Python, studying website development and building your own website, learning how to program your own game, exploring digital art, and more. Most of these lessons are imparted through downloadable instructions that guide you through the process. You can expect plenty of hands-on work as well, for example, the Python activity directs you to analyze data from Kickstarter projects. This is a good option for those who can’t commit more time or money to other programs.  


Application deadline: Not applicable

Eligibility: Students in upper elementary and middle school (students aged 9-13 years)

Program dates: Self-paced

Fee: Free


This MIT workshop’s curriculum focuses on teaching students about creative machine learning techniques and how they can use AI to create art. Through this process, you will engage in hands-on work, work with neural networks and GANs, and study AI ethics in order to understand the intersection of creativity and innovative technology. While it has the distinction of being offered by the Responsible AI for Social Empowerment and Education (RAISE) initiative at MIT, ultimately this is not a program but a curriculum that you may follow at your own pace or that your own teachers can guide you through. The entire curriculum has approximately 14 activities and should take about 10 hours to complete.


Application deadline: Rolling

Eligibility: Students who are at least 13 years old

Program dates: Multiple length courses available, available year-round and self-paced

Fee: $1,295 per course

Financial assistance: Need-based scholarships available


While Wake Forest University’s Online Immersion Programs are generally geared towards high school students, older middle school students are also applicable. The program offers a number of different courses that cover specific topics in depth and you can opt for one or more. Examples include the medicine course which goes into the lifecycle of a heart attack patient and the treatment team’s process, and the bioscience course which investigates the origin of infectious diseases and how they can be contained. The courses are entirely online, involve 20-30 hours of instruction, multimedia simulations and mentor support. You will complete a capstone project and will receive a certificate of completion at the end.  


Application deadline: Rolling

Eligibility: Students in grades 3-8 (varies with each course)

Program dates: Varies with each course

Fee: Varies by program

Financial assistance: Need-based financial aid available


John Hopkins CTY is well known for offering enriching academic programs for students and its online courses are just the same. For middle school students, the course options include a number of STEM subjects like advanced web design, AP calculus, amusement park physics, engineering design, introduction to polymers, and more. You can choose from different formats, such as session-based, individually paced, and live courses, depending on what fits your schedule and learning goals. By taking these courses, you can gain a competitive edge and prepare for advanced coursework in high school and college.


Application deadline: Varies for each cohort

Eligibility: Students in grades 3-8 (varies with each course) who are qualified for Emerald Tier courses (all online enrichment courses are Emerald Tier)

Program dates: 6-week sessions available in fall, winter, spring and summer cohorts

Fee: $600

Financial assistance: Need-based financial aid available


Similar to the John Hopkins program, the Northwestern Center for Talent Development’s Online Enrichment Courses allow students to study advanced topics in-depth while being guided by instructors. You will get a combination of live and pre-recorded classes along with pacing guides, online discussions, and weekly assignments. The course options for middle school students include topics like trigonometry, conceptual chemistry, mathematical modeling, theoretical physics, neuroscience, parasitical infections, and more. The coursework generally needs about 2-5 hours of work each week and at the end of the program, you will receive an evaluation from your instructor. However, do keep in mind that the program describes the coursework to be 1-2 grade levels above a student’s age. 


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: Girls Who Code logo


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