Class Options

Below are the class descriptions for MST@MSU (grades 7-8). Students will participate in 2 of the class options listed below during MST camp. During the application process, we ask students to rank all classes in the order of what they are most interested in taking to what they are least interested in taking. We do our best to place students into their top choices, although limited class space and high demand for certain classes may affect our ability to do that. You will be notified about your class placement after the final application deadline of May 2nd, but before camp begins. 

Biotechnology: From Genes to Genomes

Did you know that except for identical twins, no two people in the world are genetically alike? About 99.9 percent of the DNA of every person on the planet is exactly the same. It is the 0.1 percent of different DNA that makes us all unique. DNA is your body’s blueprint, and it can be manipulated for practical applications in the field of biotechnology. For example, DNA “fingerprints” obtained by analysis of tissue or body fluids found at crime scenes can provide definitive evidence that a suspect is guilty or not. DNA technology can also be used to improve crops, to determine if a person has the genetic information for certain diseases before symptoms appear, and to do research on treatments and cures for genetic diseases. Anthropologists use DNA identification techniques to trace human origins and migrations. In this class, students will prepare a DNA fingerprint using restriction enzymes and gel electrophoresis to solve a simulated crime scene investigation. Students will also genetically transform E.coli bacteria with a gene from a bioluminescent jellyfish and observe how the genetically engineered bacteria glow under UV light. Hands-on experiences will include: Assembling a model of DNA, extracting DNA from saliva and making a DNA necklace, and touring the MSU gene sequencing facility.

Chemistry: Exploring our Atomic World

Chemistry is everywhere in the world around you. It’s in the food you eat, clothes you wear, water you drink, medicines you take, and the air you breathe. Chemistry is sometimes called the “central science” because it connects other sciences to each other, such as biology, physics, geology, and environmental science. Chemistry is the branch of science where we study the properties of matter and its changes; it helps us to understand why propane burns, how glow sticks work, and what materials can be used make a battery. Doctors, engineers, forensic scientists, and researchers use chemistry to help us live longer, develop new and better materials, solve crimes, and find cures for diseases. In this course students will learn both introductory and advanced chemistry concepts. Students will participate in laboratory activities designed to show the many applications of chemistry. The course includes unique, exciting, colorful, and explosive, demonstrations of the interactions between different substances. Hands-on experiences will include: Using liquid nitrogen to flash freeze “Dippin’ Dots,” chemically separating water into hydrogen gas and oxygen gas using electrolysis, and building a working wet cell battery.

Competitive Math: Turning Life’s Negatives into Positives

The goal of Competitive Math is to harness the enthusiasm and drive that students have in mathematics to allow them the chance to expand their mind and challenge themselves in a friendly and informal, yet competitive atmosphere. This course will help students develop strategies to solve common math problems typically found in local, regional and national contests. Additionally, students will learn to appreciate the art of mathematical problem-solving while strengthening the ability to employ problem-solving strategies. Students will be challenged with exposure to mathematical concepts that might not otherwise be encountered in the public schools.

Nuclear Astrophysics

What do the history of the universe, the life and death of stars, and the elements that make up your body have in common? Nuclear astrophysics! Nuclear reactions such as fusion, fragmentation, and radioactive decay have guided the chemical evolution of the universe and the energy cycle in stars. This course, sponsored by the Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics (JINA-CEE) and MSU’s world-class National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL), will introduce you to the world of nuclei in deep space. Topics will include the mysterious origins of cosmic rays, the latest research in nuclear astrophysics, and careers in research science (or, “people will pay you to learn things”)! Hands-on experiences will include an introduction to nuclear concepts with a marble-based model, a tour of NSCL’s rare isotope research areas, and experimentation with concepts using several different model types.

Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi is a small computer that you can use to learn programming. This course will introduce students to coding like they’ve never done before. Each student will learn to code on a Raspberry Pi machine of their own which they will get to take home at the end of the program. Students will set up the board and make it accessible before learning server basics including FTP and building a simple web server using HTML and JavaScript. From there, students can learn how to make a video game emulator, create an ad blocker, and make the Pi work similarly to Google Home or Alexa. There is no previous coding experience necessary. Hands-on experiences will include preparing your own Raspberry Pi, learning several different coding languages, and building on previous coding experience that you may already have.