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CEISMC's Summer P.E.A.K.S Program At Georgia Tech - Is It Worth It?

Interested in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) programs but don’t know where to begin? A summer program may be a great place to start — you get to deep dive into the many topics within this field and see how they intersect, and it can also help you choose a specialization moving forward. If you’re an ambitious high school student, it's important to note that summer programs not only teach you important skills but also show demonstrated interest in a subject on your college application! 


A program worth considering is Georgia Tech’s Summer P.E.A.K.S. Here, we will dive into what the program is all about, who can apply, the important dates and fees, weigh out the pros and cons of applying, and give you our review of the program! 


What is Summer P.E.A.K.S all about?

Georgia Tech’s Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing (CEISMC) offers the program. CEISMC conducts K-12 outreach that includes summer and year-long programs, competitions, internships, community engagement, and more. 


Summer P.E.A.K.S. is a week-long, in-person program with dedicated sessions for elementary, middle, and high school students. The program takes place at Georgia Tech’s Atlanta campus from 9 a.m. to 3/5 p.m. daily. Summer P.E.A.K.S. covers topics like coding, 3D game design, engineering basics, data science, engineering, AI, psychology, film production, and more. The program also offers high school students limited residential programs.


What are the program dates?

The program runs between June and July, depending on what course you opt for. Application deadlines for each course vary and are generally open until two weeks before the start date or until seats fill up. For the residential programs, applications are due by the end of February.


What does the program cost?

Each course costs $500 for high school students. You can opt for more than one course. The residential offerings cost $1,550. 


Financial aid is available: CEISMC offers BOOST grants and scholarships for all its summer programs that cover up to 75% of the cost. To qualify, your family must qualify for the Georgia Free or Reduced Lunch Program. Here, the maximum annual income of a family of four (for example) must be $47,638.  


Is the program prestigious?

The Summer P.E.A.K.S. program is moderately prestigious and selective. The program is paid and does not have a minimum grade to filter applicants.


What can I study at P.E.A.K.S.?

The program offers a variety of courses to choose from. Each course part of the program runs for a week and no more than two courses are held in a single week. You can opt for multiple courses if you’d like!


  1. Code With the Yahboom Smart Robot: You will learn the basics of coding through Microsoft’s MakeCode application and use these skills to program a Yahboom robot. Code the robot to avoid obstacles using ultrasonic sensors and navigate a map using infrared sensors. 

  2. Seth Bonder Program in Computational and Data Science – Level 1: This course introduces you to the basics of programming. You will learn about machine learning, optimization, computational social science, and genomics using Snap!, a programming language, and use it to program a robot to navigate a grid.

  3. Seth Bonder Program in Computational and Data Science – Level 2: This level will introduce you to coding in Python and data science applications. Your learning will include elements of sentiment analysis, sequence alignment, decision trees, and pathfinding. You can register for this course without completing level 1, but a background in Python is recommended.

  4. Seth Bonder Program in Computational and Data Science – Level 3: This level focuses on deep learning. You can register for it without completing the previous levels but a background in Python is required.

  5. Energy Unplugged: Learn about how different kinds of energy are generated and the environmental impact. Deep dive into solar energy and electric vehicles, participate in discussions with clean energy researchers, and find out about careers in energy.

  6. iEXPERIENCE: Go on field trips to learn more about the work industrial engineers do and participate in learning sessions with them.

  7. The Science of Psychology: Learn about how the brain works through research projects and lab demonstrations — uncover how our personalities can influence decision-making, how psychology affects individual and group behavior, and much more.

  8. The World of Materials: Explore the principles, applications, and various innovations in materials sciences and engineering, and their importance in different fields.

  9. Cinemagination Film Program: Working in teams, explore film production through all its stages, from pre-production, filming, and post-production. At the end of the program, your team must shoot a short film or advertisement.

  10. Coded Beats: Use coding to learn about how music beat-mixing and production works.

P.E.A.K.S. also offers limited week-long residential courses:

  1. GT G.I.R.L.S.: This residential program introduces grade 9-11 girls to STEAM and the various careers in it through hands-on activities (lab experiences, projects, etc), lectures, and other experiences.   

  2. Robotics Institute: In this week-long program for current 9-11 graders, you will program a robot to navigate a racetrack and learn and apply techniques and principles like design optimization, localization, and camera recognition sensing. You will also participate in a VR game to better understand situational awareness in changing environments.

  3. 2024 First Generation College Institute Residential Program: This residential course introduces Georgia’s first-generation learners to STEM, connects them with college students, and guides them through the college application and FAFSA process. You pay only $25 as a registration fee and must be in grades 8-12 and a first-generation learner to apply.     


Pros and Cons of the Summer P.E.A.K.S. program:

Pros: 

  1. You can choose from a variety of programs  Summer P.E.A.K.S. offers many different programs to introduce you to STEAM: you can learn to code, investigate energy generation, follow industrial engineers, and even study film production!

  2. You can opt for multiple courses within the program  The courses are spread out throughout July and August with no more than two in a single week, allowing you to register for up to eight courses!

  3. You can avail of scholarships  Georgia Tech offers need-based scholarships and grants that cover up to 75% of the program cost.  

  4. You don’t need to have a minimum GPA to apply The P.E.A.K.S. program is designed to give students an introductory and holistic view of opportunities in STEAM — you only need to show your interest in the program!


Cons:

  1. You need to live near the Georgia Tech campus Most courses are commuter-only, which can make it difficult to attend if you do not live in Atlanta or within reasonable distance from the Georgia Tech Atlanta campus

  2. You don’t earn any credits The Summer P.E.A.K.S. program is meant to introduce STEAM to students and only runs for a week. If you’re an ambitious high school student, you could consider longer, more intensive summer programs that offer you college credits.

Our review — what do we think of the program?

If you’re a high school student undecided on a major, the Summer P.E.A.K.S. program is a sound option to get introduced to STEAM and explore its different career options. You can choose from a variety of courses based on your interest, register for multiple if you’d like, and access scholarship if you need it. On the other hand, you may want to consider another program if you find commuting to the Atlanta campus daily difficult, or if you’re looking for a more challenging summer program.



Bonus — the Lumiere Research Scholar Program!

If you’d like to participate in a rigorous research program open to high schoolers, you may want to consider the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students founded by researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.


Also check out the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students. Last year, we had 150 students on full need-based financial aid!


Kieran Lobo is a freelance writer from India, who currently teaches English in Spain. \


Image Source: Georgia Tech seal


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