University offers range of summer learning opportunities


Michael Li (left), a member of Princeton's class of 2007, talks with Nathaniel Fisch, professor of astrophysical sciences and director of Princeton's Program in Plasma Physics, during a session of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory's summer research program for undergraduates. Fisch is the associate director for academic affairs at the laboratory.

Below left: Thomas Wedlick (left), a student at the College of New Jersey, works with the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory's director of science education, Andrew Post-Zwicker (center), and Karan Khanna, a 2005 graduate of West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South.


Photos: John Jameson

Although classes are no longer in session, the summer is a season of learning at Princeton University. Princeton students, faculty and staff will lead an array of on-campus programs for students and teachers from around New Jersey and beyond, with the goal of exposing them to cutting-edge research and building their skills in a variety of fields.

Among many enriching experiences, summer programs at Princeton will provide high school students with critical knowledge about preparing for college, give college students hands-on experience with the latest engineering research, allow local youngsters to create handmade books and enable high school science teachers to work alongside University faculty to learn new ideas and techniques for their own classrooms.


The following is a list of some of the programs taking place this summer. Reporters are invited to attend. The contacts listed below can provide information about where the participants work or attend school.

Community House
Contact: Marjorie Young, (609) 258-6136
Computer Camp , July 6-Aug. 12, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
A camp for local students in grades 6-8 emphasizes computer literacy as well as math and writing skills.

Cotsen Children's Library
Contact: Cory Alperstein, (609) 258-2697,
Nature Inside Out, July 11 and July 25, 3 to 4 p.m.
Children ages 4 and 5 will take a nature walk on the Princeton campus to uncover the truth about worms (July 11) and play with shapes in nature (July 25).

Bookcrafting: Animals in the Picture, July 18-22, 9:30 a.m. to noon
Henry Horn, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, will teach youngsters ages 10-12 about his hobby of creating hand-carved animal characters and photographing them in natural environments. Children will sand and stain an animal character, prepare story boards for text and images, and produce a book of photographs.

The Daily Princetonian
Contact: Richard Just, (202) 508-4478,
Summer Journalism Program, Aug. 9-19
The student newspaper, The Daily Princetonian, will host 20 students who are entering their senior years at urban and underfunded high schools. The students, selected for their interest in journalism, will practice reporting and writing articles, including covering a Mets game and news stories in the Princeton area. Participants will work with current and former Princetonian reporters and end by publishing their own issue of the Princetonian.

Molecular Biology
Molecular Biology in the 21st Century: Applications and Dilemmas, July 10-22
Contacts: Ann Sliski, (609) 258-2075,; Gail Klein, (609) 258-1604,
Twenty-four high school teachers will participate in an intensive two-week workshop in which they learn techniques of genetic manipulation, including projects in which they test food for genetically modified ingredients and perform DNA testing.

Summer Undergraduate Research Program, June 14-Aug. 13
Contact: Alison Gammie, (609) 258-6380,
Students from Princeton as well as students from other colleges and universities, often without major research programs in biology, will spend the summer working in the labs of Princeton biologists.

Contact: Helen Ju, (609) 258-5822,
Gran Sasso-Princeton Physics Summer School, July 21-Aug. 18
In celebration of the centennial of Albert Einstein's "miracle year" and the World Year of Physics, the Department of Physics will host 20 high school students from the Abruzzi region of Italy to study special relativity, quantum physics and particle physics with Princeton scientists in classes taught in Italian. The students live near the Italian National Research Laboratories, located in a tunnel under the Gran Sasso Mountain, where a group of Princeton physics professors are currently conducting research.

Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials
Contact: Dan Steinberg, (609) 258-5598,
Research Experience for Undergraduates, June 9-Aug. 11
Forty-two college students from across the country are on campus to work on cutting-edge research projects under the mentorship of Princeton professors and graduate students. Many participants in the program come from colleges that do not have high-level engineering research. For these students, as well as for women and other groups that are underrepresented in the field of engineering, the program builds experience, confidence and personal contacts that could encourage a career in engineering. 

Princeton University Materials Academy, July-August
High school students will learn basic science while seeing how those concepts are applied in advanced materials science engineering. Under this program, Princeton will host three groups of students in separate sessions. The first group, here July 11-25, will be from the Lawrenceville, N.J.-based MentorPower program, which involves students from the Princeton and Trenton areas. The second group is from the Mercer County Community College's Upward Bound program for Trenton high school students and will be here Aug. 1-4 learning about bioengineering and "smart sensors." The last group, which will be on campus Aug. 15-19, is from Middlesex High School, which will implement a new materials science curriculum in the fall.

Materials Mini-Camp , Aug. 8-12
Thirty high school teachers will attend this intensive one-week program geared toward helping teachers use the real-world, hands-on problems of materials science to improve their science courses. The program is organized in partnership with Rutgers University and ASM International, a materials science society, which is providing detailed curriculum material to the high schools. At Princeton, the teachers will work in labs and use sophisticated equipment, including electron microscopes.

Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory
Contacts: Tony DeMeo, (609) 243-2755,; Patti Wieser, (609) 243-2757,
Plasma Camp, July 25-29
About 20 local middle school science teachers will work in the Plasma Science Education Laboratory to better understand energy and find ways to work the subject into their curricula.

Energy in the 21st Century: Solar, Fuel Cells and Fusion, Aug. 1-5
The program offers an introduction to current energy research to about 30 students from the Bergen Academy for the Advancement of Science and Technology in Hackensack, N.J.

Research Experience for Undergraduates, June 13-Aug. 19
Twenty undergraduate students from across the country as well as six local high school students will spend 10 weeks working with PPPL scientists, participating in current research projects. Of these students, two are involved in the laboratory's new Pre-service Teacher program. This initiative enables students who plan to become science, mathematics and technology teachers to work with scientists or engineers on projects related to PPPL's research programs.

Teacher Preparation Program
Princeton University Preparatory Program, July 5-Aug. 12
Contact: Jason Klugman, (609) 258-3336,
This program brings New Jersey high school students to campus for an intensive series of courses, workshops and events designed to provide the crucial preparation they need to attend selective colleges and universities. The academically gifted students, who come from disadvantaged backgrounds and live in Trenton, Princeton and Ewing, enroll for all three summers of high school and work with Princeton Prep mentors throughout the year.

Quest, July 11-22, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Contact: Anne Catena, (609) 258-2537,
During this institute for elementary and middle school teachers, participants attend week-long sessions in science, mathematics and technology taught by Princeton faculty, staff experts and local scientists. The sessions are designed to enhance teachers' knowledge through hands-on laboratory experiments and field experiences, and to acquaint them with ideas to use in their classrooms. The sessions include topics such as environmental science, the geology of New Jersey, chemistry, astronomy and weather. Another program, CONNECT-ED, pairs elementary, middle school and high school teachers with scientists from Princeton and Rider universities to examine how students learn a subject area from kindergarten through 12th grade. Quest also provides follow-up resources throughout the school year.