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Summer enrichment program

 The Community Science Academy is offering a six-week summer enrichment program at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena. It is a commuter program, with lessons and activities from 10 am to 3:30 pm every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (with some exceptions). 

Students learn science and engineering from university researchers and gain hands-on experience performing experiments and building projects in Caltech labs and facilities in cooperation with Bruce Hay (Professor of Biology), Jeff Mendez (Director of Undergraduate Chemistry Labs), and Mike Vicic (Director of Undergraduate Chemical Engineering Labs). Most classes are held at Caltech's Center for Teaching, Learning, and Outreach, with some activities held in Huntington Gardens and in Caltech's undergraduate teaching labs. 

In 2017 we are offering three courses, recommended for students in grades 9-12 (others will be considered). Community Science 1 is a prerequisite for Community Science 2, Community Science 2 is a prerequisite for Community Science 3.

Community Science 1 covers core topics in the sciences:

  • Soil and water quality. Learn how different elements cycle through the biosphere. Measure dye in Kool-Aid and iron in drinking water, using a colorimeter you build.
  • Pest control. Learn about fruit flies and ants, and build your own microscope to look at them.
  • Plant processing. Extract dyes from berries and oils from oranges, and make aspirin from willow bark or oil of wintergreen.

Community Science 2 is more engineering-oriented:

  • Environmental monitoring. Build circuits, program microcontrollers, and link solid-state gas sensors to create devices that respond to adverse conditions.
  • Remote sensing. Design remote-controlled planes with attached multispectral sensors to study vegetation.
  • Bacterial detection. Amplify and separate DNA to detect the presence of different bacteria.
Community Science 3 curriculum is currently in development.
Applications and registration information for 2017 CSA programs will be available in March, 2017.

Syllabus for last year's CSA 1

Syllabus for last year's CSA 2

Caltech article about the program

Community Science Academy Program Activities




Pictures from 2013


Making questions

Lab activity

Results and discussion

Lab tours