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ARC Middle School Summer Science Academy

ARC Middle School Summer Science Academy

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), in collaboration with ORAU in Oak Ridge, Tenn., presents a one-week, residential, hands-on science academy focusing on math, science, and technology for middle school students in July.

The ARC/ORAU Summer Science Academy is a unique opportunity for students to work in collaborative teams with experienced teachers to utilize current technology to answer a research question. Students work in three specific teams during the one-week academy, with each team comprising 8-9 students. The team approach provides an opportunity to collaboratively tackle a specific research topic and investigate it using a hands-on, inquiry-based approach.

Institute Dates

Institute Dates

Check back in spring 2021 for times and dates.

See what the Summer Science Academy is all about!

See what the Summer Science Academy is all about!

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    ARC/ORAU Middle School Summer Science Academy Projects

    Students are divided into three research groups 3D printing, coding/drones and forensics. Each group is composed of 8-9 students. The groups research their particular topic, build models, collect and analyze data, conduct competitions, learn to collaborate, and write and present their results at final presentations at the conclusion of the week. The program combines technology, data collection and analysis, hands-on experimentation, research field trips, guest speakers, scientific notebooks, WebQuests, tours, and cultural activities.

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    3D Printing

    Over the course of the week, students learn the basics and application of 3D modeling and additive manufacturing. Once students understand the basics of 3D modeling and printing, they are given a problem and use the engineering design process to come up with a creative solution that they model, print, and test. During the week, they have the opportunity to hear from scientists from ORNL’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility and visit 3Dimension Designs to learn about how additive manufacturing is making its way in the workforce.

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    Taking on the role of a forensic scientist, students learn to collect and analyze evidence using several different scientific methods. The group is posed with an unsolved case along with the chance to collect forensic evidence. They crack the case by using finger print, hair, blood and chromatography evidence, as well as an analysis of unknown substances left at the crime scene. Students hear from a representative with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation about what it’s like to work in a forensic chemistry lab. They also go to the Alcatraz Crime Museum to participate in a hands-on, forensic experience.

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    Students spend the week learning to code through the use of drones. Using the Tynker app, they learn the basics of coding with both block code and JavaScript. Equipped with the knowledge of writing code, students complete several challenges by coding their drones to do specific movements, and finally, write their own drone/coding challenge. Chuck Roberts of ORNL comes to speak to the group about how he uses drones in his work. Students are also able to meet with Ed Dumas from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who gives them a drone flying demonstration to show how he collects and analyzes weather data in the atmosphere using drones.


For additional information or if you have questions about the ARC/ORNL Middle School Summer Science Academy, please contact Chris Nelson, (865) 241-9899 or