Academic Program Options

University of Colorado

Boulder, Colorado

Get InfoApply NowSpecial STEM Research and STEM Academies2 or 4 Week ProgramsTuition ranging from $4,799 - $7,999For students completing grades 9, 10, 11, 12 (ages 14-18)Photo Gallery
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Academic Options

CU Boulder offers 2 different types of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) programs for highly motivated students.

STEM Research Experience (4 Weeks)

  • CU-Boulder faculty and graduate students mentor students in this non-credit program. Each mentor works with 1-2 students, based on research interest. Students work on their research project 30-40 hours per week, Monday-Friday.
  • Work schedules may vary among different labs. Readings and assignments may be assigned prior to the start of the program. At the end of the program, students display their work during the Idea Forge Expo. 

STEM Academies (2 Weeks)

  • Non-credit STEM Academies are taught by CU-Boulder scientists, faculty, and outside experts and meet for 4 hours daily, Monday-Friday.

  • Academic content includes guided laboratory work, museum visits, field trips, guest lectures, and discussion groups. Outside of class readings, library and internet research, and written or oral reports are assigned. At the end of the program, students present their experiments, reports, or products during the Idea Forge Expo. 

All students receive a Summer Discovery "Certificate of Completion" at the end of the program.

Choose one of the curriculum options below. Your choice indicates how you will spend your day academically during the program.

STEM Research Experience (4 Weeks)

The STEM Research Experience is an intensive program designed to engage highly motivated high school students in university level STEM research. Participants are selected through a competitive application process and assigned to a faculty or graduate student mentor based on their research interests. Specific research projects vary from year to year but involve a range of STEM disciplines, including ecology, geosciences, computer science, hydrology, environmental science, engineering, psychology, and STEM education.

During the 4 week program, participants will work in pairs on a specific research project under the guidance of their assigned mentor. Although work schedules may vary among different labs, participating students should expect to work 30-40 hours Monday-Friday on their research project and may be asked to complete additional readings and assignments prior to the start of the program.

In addition to working with their research mentor in the lab and/or field, Research Experience students will participate in a weekly Research Methods seminar course led by CU-Boulder faculty. This course will cover topics such as literature review and library resources, data collection and analysis, and communicating research results, and will provide students with support throughout the research experience. The STEM Research Experience will culminate with a research poster presentation session in which participating students will share their research results with peers, mentors, and other university colleagues.

Admission to the STEM Research Experience is selective and based on a record of academic achievement. Students must have 2-3 potential research project topics. Completed applications are evaluated on a rolling basis. Admissions decisions are made by CU-Boulder. 

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Aerospace, Aeronautics, and Astronomy Academy (2 Weeks)

Offered during 2 Week Session 1 and 2

Welcome to Aerospace Engineering! Our overall goal of this camp is to introduce students to Aerospace Engineering concepts, design challenges, and experiences with aircraft, spacecraft, and related engineering sciences. This course will include learning experiences with paper airplanes, gliders, airfoils, a field trip to Wings over the Rockies, National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) field trip, Mars Lander and Rover designs, heat shield design, rockets, planetary sciences, wind turbines, tours at CU’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP), drones, speakers, and astronaut experiences to name a few! We will be doing a mix of activities, but focus on having hands on experiences as much as possible, with students actively building their knowledge and understanding of Aerospace Engineering and its applications.

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Artificial Intelligence and Big Data Academy (2 Weeks)

Offered during 2 Week Session 1

Ever wonder how the Netflix recommendation engine works or how Amazon.com determines what items “you may also like?” All these things are driven by training a computer how to learn using the large datasets. The data science course is a practical introduction to the interdisciplinary field of data science and machine learning which is at the intersection of computer science, statistics, and business. You will learn to use R to help you acquire, parse and model your data. A significant portion of the course will be a hands-on approach to the fundamental modeling techniques and machine learning algorithms that enable you to build robust predictive models of real-world data and test their validity.

You will also practice communicating your results and insights. By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Perform exploratory data analysis with R
  • Build and refine machine learning models to predict patterns from data sets
  • Communicate data driven insights to a technical and nontechnical audience alike.
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Robotics Academy (2 Weeks)

Offered during 2 Week Session 1

In this Academy students will have a chance to play with many new robotics systems and see cutting edge robotics in action in research labs at CU Boulder. Students will interact with Cublets, Sphero, Dot and Dash and the RedBot. Each student in the class will be issued a SparkFun RedBot robot. The SparkFun RedBot is a great way to get your feet wet in the world of robotics. Students will go through nine different experiments, ranging from learning how to drive your RedBot to using an accelerometer to trigger your RedBot to move. Once you’ve mastered each experiment, you can take what you’ve learned and apply it to creating your own robot platform. The ‘brain’ of the robot is the RedBot Mainboard, an integrated microcontroller board. The Mainboard is essentially a standard Arduino Uno with an integrated motor driver and various headers and connections, making it easy to connect motors, servos, and sensors for the RedBot.

(Materials Fee $150: This will cover the RedBot robot and accessories that you will take home.)

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Med Sciences and Research Academy (2 Weeks)

Offered during 2 Week Session 1

This course will cover state-of-the-art topics in biotechnology to provide students with an overview of current and future technologies that make up our current medical sciences and research field. Students will also have the opportunity to meet with scientists from the industry to gain knowledge of how basic research can generate biomedical tools and products. During this exciting course, students will be exposed to the latest and greatest research coming out of CU Boulder. Through a series of guest lectures, lab tours and field trips, students will be exposed to research in a variety of topics including, Engineering, Biotechnology, Integrated Physiology, Biomimetics, Neuroscience, Biomaterials and many more. Students will learn important lab techniques and get some hands on experience in a variety of topics. Students will learn to think critically about current research, identify reliable sources, interpret data and design experiments.

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Neuroscience Academy (2 Weeks)

Offered during 2 Week Session 1

How does the brain control all that we do and how do scientists study this largely unknown frontier? This Academy will dive into topics such as sensory systems, learning and memory, and behavior, and explore numerous questions about the mind and brain from a variety of different perspectives, including anatomy and physiology, neuroscience, psychology, and cognitive science. This course begins with an introduction to the anatomy and physiology of the brain, as we learn about different brain structures and their related functions. Hands-on activities and experiments, together with laboratory tours and guest presentations, will build on this foundation and develop our understanding of the brain. We’ll explore the topics of intelligence and artificial intelligence, brain plasticity in the context of development, and the role that genetics may play in behavior. Students will also engage in mini-experiments on topics such as memory, sensory processing, and cognitive load, in order to learn how scientists conduct research on the brain.

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Exploring Engineering Academy (2 Weeks)

Offered during 2 Week Session 2

This Academy provides students an introduction to engineering through a series of hands-on engineering design projects. Working in teams, students will learn fundamental engineering concepts and develop valuable skills, including communication skills, how to work collaboratively in teams, and the basic steps in the engineering design process. Students in this course will take on three unique engineering challenges and learn about the engineering design cycle as they compete with fellow classmates. As the students take on challenges they will be exposed to aspects of Mechanical, Electrical, and Structural Engineering. Some of these project may include: compressed air-powered vehicles, weight bearing structures challenge, paper mechatronics, circuitry projects and the engineering design cycle.

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Microbiology Academy (2 Weeks)

Offered during 2 Week Session 2

You’ve heard about GMO’s and Synthetic Biology but in this course, you will get up close and personal with CRISPR and PCR to build custom bacteria using the latest technologies. In this course, students will become familiar with using cyanobacteria for experiments in microbiology. Students will learn about PCR and get hands on experience in gene editing using CRISPR. In addition, students will be able to look inside the cell using cutting edge imaging technologies and make 3D models from 2D datasets. Learn how to unlock the true potential of synthetic biology and design novel microbial systems, signaling pathways and metabolic networks.

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Maker Technologies Academy (2 Weeks)

Offered during 2 Week Session 2

At the intersection of technology, engineering and art, this academy will get you "hands on" with your tech. Learn the fundamentals of programming, circuitry, 3D design and 3D printing in a lively, project-driven environment. Team up and create something completely new: an electronic musical instrument, a kinetic art installation, a piece of interactive clothing, or an computerized toy. You will learn to use TinkerCad to create masterpieces of 3D printing. You will be lead through a series of design challenges aimed at learning the limits of 3D technologies and be able to let you imagination run wild while you create your own design. Enjoy the autonomy to freely design, build, test, and interact with your creations. Students will also become familiar with SparkFun products while creating unique creations which are limited only by your imagination. Building awesome stuff has never been more fun, or more approachable.

(Materials Fee $150: This will cover the RedBot robot and accessories that you will take home.)

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Video Game Design Academy (2 Weeks)

Offered during 2 Week Session 2

Video Game Design provides students with the opportunity to design, program, and create fully functional beginner video games. The course will introduce basic programming and design skills that are essential to developing a video game. Students will take a  field trip through history by visiting the CU Media Archeology Lab and getting hands on with video game history. Tell your own story by creating interactive and fun video games. Topics covered are math, physics, level design, and computer programming. Students will also learn the basics of programming structure and the software development life cycle.

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