One of the goals of the Tapia Center is to build and support a pipeline of STEM students, especially groups that are underrepresented. To achieve that goal, the center has developed camps to engage middle and high school students in the sciences and to teach them how to work in teams and to communicate effectively what they learned, exposing them to life on a college campus. Students from across the state and around the world attend the six-day residential camps, where they solve hands-on problems, hear renowned scientists and experience student life at Rice. Campers hear from National Medal of Science recipient, Professor Richard Tapia, and are inspired to follow their passions in STEM.
Our goal is to give these students the best resources and opportunities to prepare them for college while simultaneously inspiring them to pursue a STEM career.
- Paul Hand
A large part of the camp also focuses on developing communication skills by teaching students how to explain the phenomena behind the formulas they learn. Campers are introduced to equity concerns that modern scientists must consider. Students are also challenged to solve real-world problems through the camp curriculum, which is designed by faculty members. “There’s so much room for creativity in these areas, and it’s so important in the professional world to be able to communicate what you discover,” said Paul Hand, director of the camps and adjunct assistant professor of computational and applied mathematics at Rice. “Our goal is to give these students the best resources and opportunities to prepare them for college while simultaneously inspiring them to pursue a STEM career.” Campers have the ability to explore different interests as they complete projects in subjects like biology, math, engineering, physics and computer science. At the end of the camp, students have the opportunity to showcase their skills through visual and oral presentations as part of a competition. One past student said the camp took away all hesitations about joining a STEM field, was motivating and challenging, and offered engaging experiences and critical thinking benefits. Since 2015, the camps have grown from 40 participants to more than 1,300 students. Plans for 2022 include three weeks of Tapia Camps June 19–24, June 26–July 1 and July 5–10. Use code “HMRICE” for a 10% discount during registration. To learn more about Tapia Camps and how to register, please go to tapiacamps.rice.edu