Class Options

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 3rd, but before camp begins. 

Microbiology – Mining the Seeds of Technology

Did you know that microbes can help reduce the cost of your next cell phone, tablet or computer? An essential component of the speakers and batteries within your technological gadgets are critical metals known as REE’s (Rare Earth Elements).

These elements are difficult to obtain as they are very insoluble and scarce in pure form. Mines all over the world have shut down due to the dangers and costs of the extensive purification process, as well as harmful consequences to the environment such as leaching of radioactive byproducts. Today, the United States is forced to rely on foreign markets for REE’s, and 96% of the mining and distribution of these metals comes from China. Surprisingly, microbes known as methylotrophs use these metals to grow, which means that these microorganisms are expert bio-miners with the capability to solubilize and extract rare earths from different sources, both at high and low concentrations. We have engineered a strain of methylotrophic bacteria that can recover rare earths from electronic-waste (recycled technological devices). Throughout the duration of the workshop every student will recover rare earths from recycled batteries and speakers.

Hands-on experiences will include:

  • Genome editing - Learn how to modify the genome of the bacteria to optimize production of the rare earth solubilization and transport systems.
  • Microbial Engineering - Students will learn how to grow the engineered bacteria on the speakers or batteries. The students will learn how to recover and purify these metals from a bacterial culture. Concepts like yields and growth rate will be monitored, just like in the biotech companies.
  • Protein modeling - During the experimental stages of the workshop the students will also learn how to model proteins, and screen for proteins that can add selectivity and efficiency to the process.


Entrepreneurial Math - The Business of Numbers

Do you have what it takes to be the next Mark Zuckerberg? Solid business plans all have one thing in common – Money. With the growing accessibility to branding and business creation, this class aims to provide a basic understanding of the math that students may need to run their own business using applied orientation to concepts and problem-solving techniques seen in real-world business and economics. 

Goals of the class include informing our future leaders about the mathematics skills they will need in order to run their own business or to pursue a career in business, study and review of concepts in order to make connections between mathematics and the business world, ensure mathematical topics covered in class are applied to practical problems found in business and economics, and to introduce mathematical problem-solving methods and strategies in all applied business and economics examples.

Hands-on experiences will include:

  • Evaluating an applied function in business
  • Use of functions used in business and economics: demand function, supply function, and revenue; the cost and profit functions; the average cost function
  • Studying a production process 
  • Composite functions used in cost and revenue
  • Production cost, profitability, distribution cost, data transfer, stock prices, worker efficiency and consumer demand  
  • Graphs of functions used in production; finding maximum revenue
  • Manufacturing cost/output, retail sales, consumer expenditure
  • Writing a linear cost function and linear price function; least-squares linear approximation of data
  • Credit card debt, linear depreciation and linear appreciation of assets


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 in order to allow them the chance to expand their mind and challenge themselves in a friendly, informal, but competitive atmosphere.

            The Competitive Math course will help students to develop strategies in order 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 they might not otherwise encounter in the public schools. This course aims to foster enjoyment in mental math and other intellectual activities 

Hands-on experiences will include:

  • General and Advanced mathematical problem-solving strategies 
  • Logic, number, probability, and counting theories
  • Sequences, series and patterns
  • Proportional reasoning
  • Algebraic expressions and equations
  • Plane, solid, and coordinate geometry
  • Statistics, measurements, percentages, and fractions


Game Design 101– Principles of Play

What do exploring a haunted house, eradicating a disease, and building railroad lines have in common? They’re all experiences you can have playing games. You play them, you love them, but who creates these experiences? And how do they create games that people will enjoy playing?          

This course will explore the cutting-edge field of Experience Architecture (XA). XA focuses on designing experiences - particularly digital ones, pulling from the practical and concrete aspects of computer science. XA practitioners focus on the ways people use products. They're interested in design, image, rhetoric, and experience. This class will explicitly discuss the overlap between computer science, design, and rhetoric. We will talk about how the research and prototyping we do mimics the moves that experience architects do with (mostly) digital products.

Hands-on experiences will include:

  • Using cloud technology common to Experience Architects to research our target audience and the gaming industry.
  • Exposure to Adobe Creative Suite products such as Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign.
  • In the first week of the course, we'll discuss how products we enjoy--like board games--are created.
  • Work in groups to design a game using Adobe Creative suites and prototype it using handmade models and a 3D printer.
  • Students will end the camp by play-testing their prototype, before taking their game prototype home!


Forensic Science – What You Don’t See on TV

Have you ever wondered how science can be used to solve crimes? Forensic Science includes much more than is depicted on your favorite shows like NCIS or CSI. The application of science aids in legal matters and ensures that justice is served.

There are several sub-disciplines within forensic science, including: anthropology, biology, chemistry, entomology, and pathology. Throughout this course, you’ll be introduced to a number of these different areas, getting an overview of the sub-disciplines, as well as hands-on experience in the laboratory. Students will learn how to process crime scenes, and collect and analyze the evidence in a laboratory setting. Toward the end of the course, you’ll put all that you’ve learned to good use and analyze a mock crime scene to identify the suspect.

Hands-on experiences will include:

  • Documenting crime scenes and collecting evidence for analysis
  • Processing and analyzing various types of evidence including: bones, controlled substances, latent fingerprints, and trace evidence
  • Fully processing a mock crime scene, analyze the evidence, and identify a suspect
  • Testifying in a moot-court as an expert witness
  • Discover how all the forensic science sub-disciplines collaborate to ultimately solve crimes
  • Learn about the educational requirements for a career in forensic science


Animation – A Digital Artistry Experience

Have you dreamt of creating your own animated worlds, characters, creatures and stories like the ones in blockbuster animated films such as Monsters Inc., Kung Fu Panda and Frozen? Since its conception, Animation has always been a place where anything you imagine can happen.

Animation was born when people such as Eadweard Muybridge and J. Stuart Blackton used cutting-edge technology to imitate motion with photographs and drawings.  Now, over 100 years later, there is little resemblance between those experiments and modern films. However, technology remains indispensable. Some of the most advanced computer systems in the world are dedicated to bringing fantastical worlds, creatures and characters to life.

In the Drawing & Animation class, students will learn about the concepts and techniques used in professional animation studios around the world. They will use the same tools as the pros to bring their ideas to life through drawing, digital sculpting, modeling, lighting, rigging, animation, and more.

Successful collaboration and communication is key to large animation productions. So, students will pitch ideas, designs, and stories, as well as learn how to give and receive creative critique. Additionally, students will have the option to collaborate with one another to create projects.

At the end of the class students will have a broad understanding of a modern 3D animation pipeline and will have produced an animation or digital composition.

Hands-on experiences will include:

  • Observing, drawing, and communicating using perspective, composition, light, shape, and texture.
  • Sketch and/or storyboard ideas
  • Use 3D sculpting for organic modeling
  • Use hard-surface modeling for geometric shapes
  • Light, shade, and texture 3D models
  • Learn basic rigging for 3D characters and creatures
  • Observe motion and weight, and translate those observations to animation.
  • Use key frames and curves for animation


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, air, household cleaners, you name it! 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:

  • Harnessing electrolysis to chemically separate water into hydrogen gas and oxygen gas
  • Utilizing the colligative properties of solutions to make homemade ice cream
  • Determining the pH of an unknown acidic solution
  • Building a working wet cell battery
  • Using liquid nitrogen to flash freeze “Dippin’ Dots”

New for 2017!

  • Use of paper chromatography to determine the types of dyes contained within food products
  • Determining the molar mass of butane (lighter fluid)
  • Experiment with thermodynamics to determine the energy content of food products


Physics – Rockets, Radios, and Radiation, Oh my!

The magic within science can all be understood with physics!

Our everyday experiences include a bewildering number of gadgets and natural phenomena. Physics provides us with a clear and fascinating understanding of many of these phenomena, while in some cases raising intriguing questions about still mysterious facets of nature.

In this course, students will study four areas of physics: Mechanics (force and torque), Electricity (voltage and current), Waves (sound and light), and Nuclear Physics. Students will also have the opportunity to observe and participate in numerous interesting and mind-boggling demonstrations from the extensive stock of lecture demos used in MSU physics classes. In the lab portion of the class, students will use some of the same high-tech equipment that MSU undergraduate students use to conduct a variety of experiments. 

Hands-on experiences will include:

  • Using math, and a computer application to determine the gravitational acceleration of a falling object.
  • Compare the moment of inertias of spinning objects.
  • Investigate the relationship between voltage and current in electric circuits that include light emitting diodes.
  • Study interference patterns created by a vibrating string.
  • Measure the wavelength of laser light (an extremely small length!) and use interference patterns from a laser hitting a strand of hair to determine the diameter of the hair.
  • Investigate various radioactive sources and determine factors that affect the amount of radiation that is detected.
  • Design and conduct experiments using MSU Physics lab equipment.

New for 2017!

  • Explore a mysterious spinning tube and a sinking diver
  • Build a simple motor
  • Build an LED-based battery tester


Nuclear Astrophysics – Shooting for the Stars

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 and MSU’s world-class National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL), will introduce you to the world of nuclei in deep space. Course topics will include an introduction to nuclear concepts with a marble-based model, nucleosynthesis (the construction of new elements), the mysterious origins of Cosmic Rays, and careers in research science.

Hands-on experiences will include:

  • A tour of NSCL’s rare isotope research areas
  • The interaction of light and matter, spectral analysis
  • Classification of stars and stellar evolution
  • Particle detection experiment

New for 2017!

  • Physical simulations and theoretical calculations of neutron capture processes
  • Analysis of radioactive sources with scintillators


Engineering 101

Engineering is the art of using math, science and imagination to solve problems, invent, and improve things. Engineers figure out new ways to design, create, or improve almost everything around us. They work in teams to design computer games, robots, cars, road, medical implants, satellites, and much more. The cell phones, laptops, tablets, and other electronic devices we use every day were originally engineered from raw plastic, metal, silicon, and lines of software code before being transformed into a usable device. Pretty cool!

You might have already acted as an engineer before without even knowing it! If you like math, science, solving problems, thinking creatively, or are curious about the world around you and how things work, you are already on your way to becoming an engineer. The current top six fields of engineering are petroleum, electrical, computer, aerospace, chemical, and material. A solid foundation and a head start in this competitive field will prove to be beneficial in students’ long term engineering goals. Additionally, engineering is such a large aspect of many other jobs that the skill sets that students will learn and prove to be desirable to potential schools and employers for years to come.

The core of engineering will be explored in this section with a strong focus on hands-on projects, design, and fabrication of machines and structures. Learn about the design process, CAD (Computer-aided design), 3D printing, lathes, drills, and mills. This class will focus on mechanical, aerospace, and civil engineering.           

New for 2017!

  • Testing and building vehicles to wage war in a trebuchet battle competition
  • Designing and building whirligigs, and gliders
  • Develop an alternative energy drag racer



Unlike Engineering 101 which explores several different aspects of engineering, our mechatronics will focus on a blend of mechanical engineering (the design, construction, and use of machines), electrical engineering (the technology of electricity), computer control, and information technology.

Mechatronics is a design process to create more functional and adaptable products such as combustion engines for spacecrafts, power systems, and artificial limbs. Modern inventions include electric cars and wind turbines. These are the same processes that led the Wright brothers to the airplane and Henry Ford to the assembly line. A mechatronics engineer unites the principles of mechanics, electronics, and computing to generate a simpler, more economical and reliable system. The term "mechatronics" was coined by Tetsuro Mori, the senior engineer of the Japanese company Yaskawa in 1969. An industrial robot is a prime example of a mechatronics system; it includes aspects of electronics, mechanics, and computing to do its day-to-day jobs.

If you like gadgets, creating your own inventions, and being challenged, then this class is for you. Students will learn about microcontrollers, resistors, capacitors, LED, switches, servos, PIR, and more. This classes three main focuses will be: hardware & circuits, computer programing, and fun.           

New for 2017!

  • Building a robotic mouse to autonomously crawl through a maze
  • A Sumo robotic competition
  • Smart Car drag racing


Physiology & Neuroscience – Physiological Phenomena

Have you ever wondered how the human body really works? If so, then you’re already thinking like a physiologist!

At the basic level, physiology helps us understand how living creatures do all the things they do: eat, run, jump, breathe, and keep their hearts beating. A more advanced understanding of physiology helps us lengthen our life span, push the limits of athletic performance, cure disease, and discover new medications.

Classes will be held in the departmental physiology laboratory, using the same equipment and performing the same experiments as college undergraduate students!

The class will be a “hands-on” and “minds-on” experience, where you will learn whole-body anatomy, physiology, and neuroscience. We will also integrate body systems to see how all the different systems in your body work together. In order to achieve this, you will act as a scientist for two weeks, performing exciting experiments on yourself and with animal tissue in the lab, and using computers to collect and analyze data.

You will have the opportunity to measure your own body function including heart, brain, lung, and others!  We will also talk about how the body of an astronaut responds to space flight and other fun challenges to the human body.

Finally, you will have the opportunity to meet professors and college students in physiology and neuroscience, as well as hear about some of the current research in the field.

Hands-on experiences will include:

  • Measuring lung function of yourself and others
  • Record your own EEG and EKG
  • Using electric shocks to stimulate both your own nerves and nerves in cockroach legs
  • Explore your sensory physiology: vision, hearing, taste, and reflexes