Class Options

Below are the class options for MSTL students (grades 9-10). Students will participate in 2 of the class options listed below during the MSTL program. 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. 

Competitive Mathematics

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, informal, but 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.

Microbe-Microbe and Microbe-Plant Interactions

Did you know that microbes are everywhere,  including all over plants? In fact, just like in humans, certain microbes can help plants grow faster and healthier. One group of microbes that loves living on plants is the methylotrophs, and interestingly these bacteria can use Rare Earth Elements (REEs) to grow. REEs are precious metals that have been used in some countries for decades as chemical fertilizers to increase crop production. During our workshop we will solve the following questions: If methylotrophs can make plants grow better, and REEs can as well, how will the two interact together with plants? And how do REEs affect the methylotrophic community? We also aim to investigate the intriguing possibility that methylotrophic bacteria can use REEs to enhance plant growth. Our future microbiologists will learn about microbe-microbe and plant-microbe interactions, metabolism, and the role of REEs in biology, all while conducting and designing their own research experiment. They will learn fundamental scientific concepts such as: hypothesis generation and testing, data generation and analysis, and data presentation. 

Fascinating Physics

What do fidget spinners, lasers, and radioactivity have in common? They can all be understood with physics! Our everyday experience includes a bewildering number of gadgets and natural phenomena. In this course, students will study four areas of physics:  Mechanics (linear and rotational motion), electricity (voltage vs current), waves (sound and light), and radioactivity. Students will be challenged in these areas of physics that will go beyond the science standards for high school students. While learning about these
topics, students will have the opportunity to observe and participate in numerous interesting 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 undergraduate students use to conduct a variety of experiments. Throughout the course students will develop team-building and leadership skills as they work together in labs and lectures. Students will also learn how physicists apply math and use computers to help them explain and better understand the world around them. Along the way, students will realize that the more they learn, the more questions they can raise about technology and nature. Students will learn that many of their questions can be answered by concepts learned in the fascinating field of physics.

Molecular Biology

Do bacteria think? Bacteria certainly do not have a brain like you and I, but they are capable of remarkable behaviors. Bacteria respond to changes in their surroundings, talk to each other, and organize in complex communities. Some bacteria can swim and, using the equivalent of a nose, find their way to their favorite food. This behavior, called “chemotaxis,” is widespread in the bacterial world and plays an important role in collective migration, colonizing plant roots, or infecting our bodies. By studying how chemotaxis works, students will discover the simple molecular mechanisms that form the building blocks of sophisticated signaling networks. Using computer simulations, we will explore how signaling networks controls bacterial behaviors in complex environments.

Robotic Technologies

Robots are being used in many different ways from helping us reach deep outer space all the way down to the helping save the coral reefs in the ocean. Robots are the next technical revolution and when programmed, can carry out a complex series of actions. Robotic technologies is the development of processes to create new intelligent robotic systems. Students will understand how robots are built, operated and maintained through an understanding of computer science and mechanical engineering. Students will learn to code, use sensors, along with a microcontroller to build an autonomous robot.

Motion Design and Animation: From Ideation to Creation

All of the visual effects we see in films and video games have their basis in math and programming. Everything from glowing abstract fractals in a music video to a stormy ocean in a blockbuster film have been created by teams of programmers who convert real-world concepts into lines of code. These tools create a unique partnership between man and machine. We provide the basic rules and computers work intelligently and autonomously to create a finished product. Often times the results are completely unexpected and would be impossible to achieve solely by humans. Students will use tools such as Cinema4D, Mograph, X-Particles and simple programming languages to generate animations and images ranging from realistic to completely abstract.
Students will also pitch ideas and have the option to collaborate with fellow students to create larger, more advanced projects. At the end of the class students will have a broad understanding of how procedural animation tools work and will have produced several animations and digital compositions based on their ideas.