In each two-week session, participants will select from one of the following science, technology, engineering, and math specialties and one humanities workshop. When applying, rank the top three program choices from the following:
- Aerospace Engineering (Frontiers I)
- Biology, Biotechnology, & Bioinformatics (Frontiers I)
- Biomedical Engineering (Frontiers I)
- Chemistry and Biochemistry (Frontiers I)
- Civil and Environmental Engineering (Frontiers I)
- Computer Science (Frontiers I)
- Electrical and Computer Engineering (Frontiers I)
- Engineering Exploration (Frontiers II)
- Engineering Software (Frontiers II)
- GenCyber Cybersecurity (Frontiers II)
- Interactive Media & Game Development (Frontiers I)
- Introduction to Actuarial and Financial Mathematics (Frontiers II)
- Mathematics (Frontiers I)
- Mechanical Engineering (Frontiers I)
- Physics (Frontiers I)
- Pre-Health/ Pre-Med (Frontiers II)
- Psychology (Frontiers II)
- Robotics (Frontiers II)
Humanities & Arts Workshops
- Art of Science (Frontiers I & II)
- Character Costume Figure Drawing (Frontiers II)
- Chorus (Frontiers II)
- Cinematic Storytelling (Frontiers I & II)
- Creative Writing (Frontiers I & II)
- Digital Painting (Frontiers I)
- Elements of Writing (Frontiers II)
- Financial Literacy (Frontiers I)
- Global Topics in Energy and Environment (Frontiers I & II)
- History of Technology (Frontiers II)
- Magic as Performance Art: The History, Theory, and Practice of the Magical Arts (Frontiers I)
- Music (Frontiers I)
- Popular Perspectives on Law (Frontiers I)
- Psychology (Frontiers I & II)
- Women's Leadership Academy (Frontiers II)
Aerospace Engineering (Frontiers I)
By covering basic concepts in aerodynamics, the Aerospace Engineering program explores the science of flight. Topics such as drag, streamlining, airfoil stall and aircraft design will be studied. Participants learn how wings and aircrafts create lift to fly. Wind- and water-tunnel experiments are conducted to visualize the flow over aircraft, and computer simulations are run for different airfoil shapes. Participants will design and build a simple model aircraft using what they learned. They will also be able to test their designs in the wind tunnel, and see it soar in free-flight!
Biology, Biotechnology, & Bioinformatics (Frontiers I)
This program explores current topics in biology and biotechnology. Participants become part of a crowd sourcing initiative to develop new antibiotics, learn about the pollinator crisis and work with a computer simulation involving bee behavior, investigate how molecular biology and genetic barcoding can reveal environmental concerns. The roots of biotechnology are also covered in two fun exercises – fermenting root beer and making liquid nitrogen ice cream. *Students who attend this Frontiers I session may be interested in continuing to explore topics in the Frontiers II session: Pre-Health/ Pre-Med.
Biomedical Engineering (Frontiers I)
At the crossroads of engineering, biology, and medicine lies an exciting science making historic breakthroughs that are extending lives, re-enabling the disabled, and vastly improving the quality of life. This is biomedical engineering, and WPI is at the forefront of research that is leading to many of these breathtaking developments. In this program, participants will develop innovative solutions to real world problems. They will also build and test prototypes in this exciting field to begin addressing our Nation's medical needs. *Students who attend this Frontiers I session may be interested in continuing to explore topics in the Frontiers II session: Pre-Health/ Pre-Med.
Chemistry and Biochemistry (Frontiers I)
Shrink down to the world of molecules and explore how life functions at one of its most fundamental levels. Combine the newest technologies in the fields of chemistry and biochemistry to explore what happens when molecules collide; peel apart proteins and DNA; discover how enzymes work; and use computer modeling to see what biomolecules look like in 3-D. Participants see how chemistry can make color, fire, light, and electricity; and use the latest genetic and biochemical techniques to create organisms that glow. *Students who attend this Frontiers I session may be interested in continuing to explore topics in the Frontiers II session: Pre-Health/ Pre-Med.
Civil and Environmental Engineering (Frontiers I)
The field of civil and environmental engineering is essential for improving the quality of life in society and protecting the environment. This discipline includes sustainable design and construction of roads, bridges, tunnels, dams, tall buildings, water and waste-water treatment plants among others. Participants learn about different areas of civil and environmental engineering, and also complete hands-on projects involving laboratory testing of materials and structures, computer analysis and design of structures, water quality sampling and testing, and computer analysis to understand how human activities affect water quality in the environment. *Students who attend this Frontiers I session may be interested in continuing to explore topics of sustainability in the Frontiers II session: Global Sustainability.
Computer Science (Frontiers I)
In this self-paced program, participants have the opportunity to explore the world of programming as it is used in the World Wide Web and in object-oriented languages such as Java. They also explore graphical and distributed programming environments, while having the chance to incorporate their work as part of effective multimedia interfaces. In addition, special topics in computer science will be discussed according to participant interest.
Electrical and Computer Engineering (Frontiers I)
Discover the fascinating world of electrical and computer engineering through classroom exercises and laboratory hands-on activities. Participants build and solder projects that they can take home, including a heart pulse indicator and binary clock. They also learn to use lab equipment such as power supplies, function generators, and oscilloscopes to test circuits that are built. This knowledge is then applied to a design project that is worked on throughout the course. Topics include audio amplification, biomedical applications, analog signal processing, and digital logic.
Engineering Exploration (Frontiers II)
Participants will explore engineering careers and learn about the various engineering disciplines such as architectural, electrical/computer, mechanical, industrial, biomedical through hands-on activities and projects. This Frontiers track will emphasize the role of engineers as creative problem solvers making a difference in society. Participants will also learn how best to prepare in high school to major in engineering in college.
Engineering Software (Frontiers II)
Discover the artistry of technical computing. Using powerful software tools including MATLAB, Mathcad and LabVIEW, participants will gain experience with programming and data analysis through a variety of exercises including the physics of the Angry Birds, modeling the geometry of nature, and monitoring the heart rate and blood pressure. Participants will be exposed to the artistry of technical computing by exploring concepts such as RGB color model, fractals, randomness and self-organization, cellular automata (Game of Life), networks and six degrees of separation. No previous programming experience is required.
Financial Literacy (Frontiers I)
Do you plan to be wealthy? This course will help students understand financial concepts and how to apply them. The course begins by answering questions like:
- Why should I want to learn financial literacy?
- What are some typical incomes for various occupations?
- How do people become wealthy?
The course then moves into forecasting by creating a life-long financial plan on a spreadsheet. Students will do this during in-class workshops with coaching. Each student will learn how to use a spreadsheet program to build their own financial forecast model. The model will help them formulate their own plan to become wealthy.
GenCyber Cybersecurity (Frontiers II)
Cybersecurity is at the forefront of contemporary issues for computer systems. Working with WPI faculty, participants in this workshop will have the opportunity for significant hands on experiences with topics such as Web-App security, network security, forensics, system security, cryptography and privacy. Participants will use appropriate tools and may include programming for analysis of data. Please note that this track is supported by NSA and NSF and at no cost to participants. A separate application process applies. Due to overwhelming demand, this program application is now closed and program participants have been selected. *Please note: Students are only able to participate in this program ONCE.
Interactive Media & Game Development (Frontiers I)
Combine technology with art to create an interactive experience. Participants take on the role of programmer or artist, and work on a team to bring a game to life. They develop their own story, environment, characters and sound effects. Throughout the program, participants break down their ideas into simple rules, write algorithms, use powerful scripting languages, and playtest games with their team.
Introduction to Actuarial and Financial Mathematics (Frontiers II)
This workshop is designed to give participants an immersive experience in actuarial and financial mathematics topics. The program begins with an introduction to a fundamental actuarial topic, the theory of interest, and some key concepts in probability. Then participants will learn about bonds and bond pricing, stocks and the stock market, and options and option pricing. Particular attention will be paid to the mathematical modeling of financial securities. Participants hear from professionals in the field, as guest speakers share their experiences at various corporations.
Mathematics (Frontiers I)
Learn how a mix of classical mathematics and modern technology can be used to solve current problems and open up new areas. Participants use this background to examine encryption of numbers on the Internet via the RSA algorithm, and analysis of human voice patterns and musical instruments through Fourier methods. Specific problems of current information technology that these address include the need for secure transmission of data, such as credit card numbers over the Internet, and storage and use of music in digital format (WAV vs. MP3 files, for example). Participants also learn how elementary matrix methods explain the popular Google search algorithm.
Mechanical Engineering (Frontiers I)
This broad discipline includes many areas of interest: energy production and transfer, mechanical design, materials science, biomechanics, and fluid flow, among others. Participants explore the extent of mechanical engineering through a mixture of fundamental concepts and experimentation. The program emphasis will be on energy transfer, starting from human power to an understanding of steam power to today's ensemble of conventional and alternative energy sources.
Physics (Frontiers I)
Participants investigate selected fields or applications of modern physics—such as interplanetary travel, atomic spectroscopy, quantum computing and black holes—through a combination of lectures, audio-visual presentations, hands-on laboratory experiments, and visits to research facilities.
Pre-Health/ Pre-Med (Frontiers II)
Ever thought of becoming a doctor, nurse, psychologist, or other health professions? In the Pre-med and Health Professions track, high school students will be mentored by faculty and a second year medical student as they explore the medical and healthcare fields through hands-on workshops, interacting with medical professionals, case studies, and labs. From experiences like learning to suture to doing a mock delivery, participants will experience the teamwork and skills required in medicine and be exposed to career paths from practicing professionals (i.e. Physicians, Medical Residents, Medical students, Genetic Counselors, and Physicians' Assistants). Participants will receive certification in basic life support and have advising opportunities with WPI's health professions advisor to help prepare for a career in healthcare. This will include practicing Multiple Mini interviews (MMIs) for the medical school admissions process too! At the end of the session, students will have the opportunity to show off their experiences in an e-portfolio.
Psychology (Frontiers II)
The psychological science course at WPI includes art, music, video and field trips to help participants understand the mind, the brain, human behavior, perception, and the senses. Psychology, engineering and technology work hand-in-hand in the complicated world in which we live. Participants will be involved in a research project, hands-on activities, dream education, and something we call personality archetypes. This is a fun and challenging course, and we know participants will come out all the wiser from this experience.
Robotics (Frontiers II)
Participants immerse themselves in robotics engineering and discover the science and technology behind robot design and operations. They will learn sensor operations, programming, pneumatics, and manufacturing techniques and use this information to solve a challenging robotics problem. Each subgroup in the session will brainstorm, design, build, and test its own creation. During the week each participant will spend time outside of the lab exploring important business aspects of robotics including marketing, entrepreneurship, management, and teamwork skills. The robots meet for an end-of-session tournament so all subgroups can present their creations. This session is particularly useful in preparing participants for entry or leadership within their high school's robotics team.
Humanities & Arts Workshops
Art of Science (Frontiers I & II)
Beginning with the Middle Ages, this course will explore the impact of science and technology throughout art history. Topics to be considered include the engineering of the great Gothic cathedrals; the development of linear perspective; scientific illustration; photography, light, and optics; nature and the environment; robotics; the science behind Cubism and abstract art; the influence of invention, exploration, and scientific discovery on techniques and materials, and more. No previous art experience necessary.
Character Costume Figure Drawing (Frontiers II)
This class is for anyone who loves to draw regardless of skill level. Participants learn methods and techniques to help bring character designs to life. This course also covers the basics of anatomy, form, and structure of the human body, as participants learn how to draw costumed models in storytelling and dynamic poses. Exercises, both in and out of class, are designed to explore storytelling, composition, caricature, and characterization. Other art from live models will improve participants own imaginative characters drawn from life.
Chorus (Frontiers II)
By singing in a choir, participants get a chance to explore musical activities. The choir will rehearse daily and perform a concert at the conclusion of the program. Music will be selected based on the members of the ensemble and will include a variety of genres, from folk to pop and classical.
Cinematic Storytelling (Frontiers I & II)
The course explores the dramatic principles of storytelling, how to translate story ideas into screenplay format, and how the screenplay is used as a basis for shooting a film. The class will develop a short story idea together, following dramatic principles and using an underlying theme as a guide to the story development process. The class will then learn how to convert the screenplay into storyboards and a shot list, conveying the important ideas through cinematic images and compelling dialog.
Creative Writing (Frontiers I & II)
Participants conduct a series of experiments with words, imagination, and ideas: fiction or nonfiction prose, poetry, or play script. What participants create depends on their group members, the Frontiers experience, and what they have been writing throughout the program.
Digital Painting (Frontiers I)
In this workshop, participants have the opportunity to learn the art of digital imaging using state of the art software and computer technology. Techniques covered include photo manipulation, digital painting and illustration.
Elements of Writing (Frontiers II)
Investigate what happens when an author chooses certain vocabulary, sentence structure, and overall organization. This approach helps participants improve their writing skills needed for college. In this program, participants will also be given an opportunity to write college application essays where they can show their individuality. All participants are encouraged to bring topics that appear on admission forms for colleges where they intend to apply.
Global Topics in Energy and Environment (Frontiers I & II)
Explore global challenges and the changing U.S. role in the world. In this workshop, participants will reflect on global issues, take part in discussion, and immerse themselves in role-playing simulations about international issues. At the end of this process, participants will frame their own recommendations for the U.S. response to selected contemporary problems.
History of Technology (Frontiers II)
Many people assume that technological change is the major factor in historical change and that it drives historical progress. This class turns these assumptions into two questions: Does technology exist “outside” society and drive social, cultural and political change? Answers and alternative formulations are sought in the careful study of select revolutionary technologies including but not limited to the printing press, the clock, the steam engine, machine gun, electricity, assembly line, the computer and internet.
Magic as Performance Art: The History, Theory, and Practice of the Magical Arts (Frontiers I)
Magic is one of the oldest performance arts in human culture. But what is magic? How has it changed and evolved over the centuries? And more importantly, how does one become a magician? Combining lecture, live demonstrations of magical technique, and video footage of famous magicians, the course provides an introduction to basic sleight of hand and magical performance. In addition to learning (and performing!) basic coin and card sleights, participants will be introduced to the theory of magic. Finally, on the last day of Frontiers, participants will perform a magic show for their parents and friends. Special note: those who enroll in this course will be required to take the Magician's Oath, promising not to reveal the secrets discussed in class.
Music (Frontiers I)
This program consists of daily music activities and rehearsals in the appropriate instrumental ensembles. At the conclusion of the program, participants perform in a concert with music varying in style from jazz to pop to classical. Previous instrumental experience is required.
Popular Perspectives on Law (Frontiers I)
Legal matters have a pervasive influence throughout our culture - this course examines the most important aspects of law in that context. Specifically, both the structure and function of law, discussing how law works and analyzing the substance of many of its most critical areas. Active involvement is a key part of this course. Participants will gain a sound perspective and practical knowledge relative to law both through work in the classroom and by a field trip to court to observe proceedings.
Psychology (Frontiers I & II)
Psychological science is the experimental study of human thought and behavior in order to understand why people do what they do. The goal of this Frontiers experience is to provide insight into psychological science and also its application to the real world, other sciences, and engineering. To do so, this course offers a broad introduction to different topics in psychological science, such as the brain, development, sensations and perceptions, thinking, learning, memory, psychological disorders, and social environment. Participants in this course learn about these different topics, while conducting research projects with the help of hands-on activities.
Women's Leadership Academy (Frontiers II)
This is a catalyst to train and prepare young women to set goals for studies and a career in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/ or management. In this program, you will discover your dreams and destiny for college plans through goal setting and exploring career paths in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or management; understand your individual strengths, interests, and beliefs and how they create a foundation for your future job skills; develop your personal compass based on the habits of successful people and how a positive belief system has the power to create opportunities; learn financial literacy, time management skills, communication skills, and ways to find scholarship opportunities; and scope out your short-term goals, long-term goals and your life vision of success.