Summer STEM Outreach Programs Reach Students and Teachers

Programs Bring Middle School Students and High School Teachers to NSM

What did you do this summer? While others relaxed or went on vacation, a number of middle school students and high school teachers spent time at UH discovering (or re-discovering) the excitement of science and math.

Outreach programs, run by NSM faculty members, covered a broad spectrum of “students” from summer camps reaching grades 5-8 to a program for high school physics teachers designed to enhance their teaching skills.

STEM Summer Camps

Two camps, coordinated by NSM’s teachHOUSTON program, reached nearly 150 students in June and July. Cougar STEM Camp and the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp offered fun-filled activities designed to cultivate a child’s interest in science, technology, engineering and math.

stem-programsSTEM Camp participants extract DNA from a strawberry as part of the crime scene investigators week. Cougar STEM Camp participants could enroll for one-to-four weeks of camp with a choice of themes that included robotics, movie magic, cougar inventors and crime scene investigators. The ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp, “Voyaging into the Cosmic Ocean,” lasted two weeks.

In addition to NSM faculty members, UH undergraduates in the teachHOUSTON program supported both camps, serving as camp counselors. teachHOUSTON students participate in ongoing field-based teaching experiences throughout their four years at UH while working on bachelor’s degrees in math or science. The program is a partnership between NSM and the College of Education.

To be added to the STEM Camp email list, contact

STEM Teaching Equity Project – Physics Summer Institute

Fifteen dedicated high school physics teachers spent two weeks at UH learning methods to engage students in activities that reinforce physics concepts. The program, called the STEM Teaching Equity Project – Physics Summer Institute or STEP, is a UH faculty-led professional development program that supports active learning.

stem-programs-2STEP program participants investigate electrical circuits, using both a traditional multimeter and an iPad simulation app. Each day, the teachers, representing 8 school systems, worked through various hands-on activities to replicate in their classrooms. The lessons ranged from demonstrating magnetic fields, electric current and basic principles of a motor to exploring Newton’s 2nd Law through an activity that shows how forces applied to an object relate to its acceleration and velocity.

In addition to working on classroom activities, they learned about current research projects through tours of UH physics laboratories. In September, the teachers returned to UH to attend three-hour, follow-up sessions every two weeks. These sessions will continue through the school year.

Kathy Major, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics