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. 

3D Animation: Concepts

Do you want to learn what it takes to create animations such as the characters in blockbuster animated films such as Monsters Inc., Kung Fu Panda, and Frozen? This class will introduce you the computer software and process used to make animations come to life!

Animation was born when people such as Eadweard Muybridge and J. Stuart Blackton imitated motion with photographs and drawings. Now, over 100 years after this breakthrough, some of the most advanced computer systems in the world are dedicated to bringing fantastical animated worlds to life in modern films and videogames.

In the 3D Animation: Concepts class, students will learn about the concepts and techniques used in professional animation studios. They will use the same tools as the pros (such as Cinema4D) to learn about drawing, digital sculpting, modeling, lighting, animation, and more. At the end of the class, students will have a basic understanding of 3D animation and will have produced 3-4 simple 3D compositions. Hands-on experiences will include:

  • Use 3D sculpting for organic modeling and hard-surface modeling for geometric shapes
  • Observe motion and weight and translate those feelings to animation
  • Light, shade, and texture 3D models, and use key frames and curves to animate the model

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. Other activities will include:

  • Assemble a model of DNA
  • Extract DNA from their own saliva and make a DNA necklace
  • Tour 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 we 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
  • Building a working wet cell battery

Competitive Math: The Theoretical, the Conceptual, and the Intellectual

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 Competitive Math 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. This course aims to foster enjoyment in mental math and other intellectual activities. Mathmatial concepts covered will include:

  • Linear equations (intermediate to competitive word problems)
  • Proportions (direct and inverse variation, manipulating proportions, conversion factors)
  • Using Integers (number bases, divisibility tricks, primes, uncommon factors)

JA Titan®: Business Strategy

MSU GATE is partnering with Junior Achievement to challenge students to learn economic and business concepts and apply their knowledge as they compete in an online simulation in the highly competitive industry of the fictional Holo-Generator. In the simulation, students become familiar with what it takes to be a leader and decision-maker in a business. Student will make decisions about price, production, marketing, capital investment, and research and development. The impacts of their decisions will lead to the success or failure of their Holo-Generator company. Through a variety of economic scenarios, students will learn how key business decisions affect a company’s bottom line.

All JA programs correlate to state standards in social studies, English, and mathematics, and to Common Core State Standards. Hands-on experiences will include:

  • Designing a research and development plan for their business.
  • Learning methods to make capital investment decisions, how to promote new growth in their businesses through capital investment, and why businesses choose to make charitable giving decisions.
  • Using what they have learned about price, production, research and development, marketing, capital investment, and charitable giving to make business decisions using the JA Titan computer simulation.

Mechatronics and Robotics: An Introduction

Students will learn the basics of both mechatronics and robotics in this introductory course. Mechatronics focuses on a blend of mechanical engineering (the design, construction, and use of machines), electrical engineering (the technology of electricity), computer control, and information technology, making it an ideal pairing with robotics.

MST’s Intro to Mechatronics and Robotics course will consist of learning basic circuits, prototyping using breadboards, and applying concepts from electrical engineering. Students will also be exposed to concepts in physics such as Ohm’s Law and Kirchoff’s Voltage Law (KVL).

Students will design, build, code, and test different circuits such as LED, pullup, pull-down, RC, and QT circuits. Additionally, they will be introduced to PBASIC, a BASIC variant computer language, and the BASIC STAMP2
microcontroller.

Nuclear Astrophysics: Where Sciences Collide

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
  • Experimentation with concepts using several different model types

Python: Computer Programming Made Easy

Computer programming is a fascinating and lucrative field of study that many students find intimidating at first—but don’t let that stop you from trying out a new skill. This class will introduce the basic skills of programming in one of
the most versatile and learnable programming languages: Python. Python’s core philosophy includes concepts like: Beautiful is better than ugly, simple is better than complex, complex is better than complicated, and readability counts. Students will build programs that can encrypt sensitive information using data structures (lists) to hold secrets and loops for repetition (Cesarean Cipher). Topics covered will include:

  • Introductions to variables, strings, and conditionals
  • Building larger programs with functions, cracking secret messages
  • Encryption and randomization
  • Complex ciphers and the Enigma Machine