STEM Programs and Resources for Youth on the Oregon State University campus

September 27, 2013 in News, Resources by Chris Singer

STEM Academy at OSU

STEM Academy at OSU

At Oregon State University, the Office of Precollege Programs supports and oversees a wide range of youth outreach activities designed to increase college access and academic preparation for Oregon’s youth. Academic programs and youth camps provide a pipeline to higher education and offer opportunities to enhance physical and mental well-being.

Many of these programs are geared to getting youth interested in STEM. Programs are listed below according to Year-Round, School Year and Summer Programs.


4-H Youth Development 
4-H helps young people learn and grow through an intentional process that builds competence, confidence, connection, compassion, and character. Currently, more than 100,000 young people across Oregon participate in 4-H. Leadership and oversight of 4-H at the local level is provided by a faculty member of Oregon State University who lives or works in the community they serve.

Campus Field Trips
The Office of Precollege Programs annually hosts students, generally in grades 6-8, plus teachers and parents for a day on campus intended to encourage underrepresented and minority students to go to college. Groups generally spend between 2-4 hours at OSU: they tour campus with an undergraduate peer mentor, eat lunch in a dining hall, visit a cultural center or stop by an athletic facility, and have a customized presentation and/or hands-on activity presented by a faculty member, staff, or students meant to enhance school curriculum as well as expose students to potential majors or careers (generally, engineering, math and science-focused).

College Credit for High School Students
High school students can start their college career early while helping meet high school graduation requirements. This program allows high schools students the opportunity to earn transferable college credits, start a college transcript, and complete these courses in the comfort of their own environment. These online courses, taken through OSU Extended Campus, are offered in almost every subject area.

Environmental Health Sciences Center (EHSC) Community Outreach and Education Core (COEC)
COEP’s community outreach mission is to translate the research findings of the EHS Center into outreach programs that are useful and relevant to the public. Program activities include student and teacher workshops, public awareness seminars and workshops and other community programs that highlight the importance of environmental health research for the general public and the K-12 audience. COEP also facilitates interactions between university scientists and the general public, students and teachers. This includes helping to coordinate scientist visits in classrooms as well as bringing students/teachers on campus for lab tours.

Hatfield Marine Science Center Education Programs
Hatfield offers programs for Preschool through High school, from summer day camps to hands on labs and field activities during the school year.

Programs include:
* One program through Hatfield is Oregon Coast Quests. Questions are fun, free-choice learning adventures that use clues and hints to encourage participants to discover the natural, cultural and historical “treasures” of place and community. Suitable for groups of all ages, self-guided Quests allow lifelong learners to explore parks, trails and other outdoor spaces in new ways and at their own pace.

Oregon Sea Grant camps give young people an opportunity to interact with researchers and learn about the marine environment through hands-on programs and field trips. Topics covered in each camp differ, but range from marine technology to marine mammals. These camps also provide an opportunity for youth to participate in activities outside the scope of normal school classes, touring research vessels, building their own Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs), and tagging fish with researchers.

Inner City Youth Institute
A collaborative partnership of the Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Bureau of Land Management, and OSU 4-H Youth Development. Through school year activities based in Portland, and summer programs at the Salem 4-H Center and OSU campus, the Inner City Youth Institute encourages Portland youth to explore higher education and careers in the natural sciences. The Inner City Youth Institute promotes safe outdoor learning environments, and creates unique mentorship opportunities with natural resource professionals.

KidSpirit Youth Programs
KidSpirit, which is sponsored by the College of Health and Human Sciences, offers year-round programs for children ages 2 years through high school.

Oregon Natural Resource Education Program (ONREP) Project Learning Tree
ONREP’s Mission is to educate K-12 educators about Oregon’s forests and natural resources, and to prepare them to make informed decisions, exhibit responsible behavior, and take constructive action concerning the future of Oregon’s forests. At the heart of the program is Project Learning Tree (PLT), and Project WILD, which are award winning environmental education curricula focused on building understanding and knowledge through creative problem-solving and critical thinking .

Oregon Space Grant
OSGC maintains a diverse array of programs to support space science and engineering education from middle school through graduate school. Through educational and community outreach opportunities, Oregon Space Grant aims to help develop a strong science, mathematics, and technology education base at all educational levels.

Outreach in Biotechnology
The ORB program is an educational outreach education program to promote public understanding of biotechnology in agriculture and natural resources. The program aims to explain the science behind genetic engineering and examines some of the science-based concerns pertaining to the use of this technology in agricultural production systems. The website contains numerous educational resources including downloadable PowerPoint presentations, regulatory information, news and current issues, as well as a variety of useful web links for further information. The program also provides a summer biotechnology workshop for high school teachers.

STEM Academy
A nonprofit community-based program, offering enrichment educational opportunities, especially in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields to elementary, middle, and high school students. Camps and classes are taught by experts in the community and at OSU and are held primarily on the OSU campus. STEM Academy is open to all motivated students. Scholarships are available to all who qualify. STEM Academy programs include a variety of week-long summer camps (Engineering, TekPets, Computer Science, Forensic Science, Ocean Science, Lego Robotics, Science & Art, etc.), the Advocates for Women in Science, Engineering, and Math (AWSEM) program, and the Apprenticeships in Science and Engineering (ASE) program. For youth in grades grades 2-12.

Wave Research Laboratory Tours
The O.H. Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory strives to expose students of all ages to engineering and research with programs such as guided tours though the wave lab. These tours, guided by knowledgeable faculty, and graduate students, include an introduction to basic wave mechanics, demonstrations of the wave lab equipment and experiments being conducted in the laboratory. Tours can range from 20-45 min and the WRL will work with teachers to develop meaningful and exciting lesson plans for the tour.


Bug Zoo
The Oregon State University BugZoo is a student group interested in educating its members, other students and the public about the joys and importance of insects, other arthropods and reptiles and amphibians. BugZoo educates through live displays and hands-on activities.

Chemistry Outreach
The Department of Chemistry has an active program to bring chemistry to the local community. Through the Outreach Committee, opportunities are available to tour labs, do hands-on experiments, and have chemistry faculty and students to bring chemistry to schools.

Discovering the Scientist Within
A free Saturday workshop designed to introduce middle school girls to careers in science, technology and engineering. The workshop includes hands-on activities and the opportunity to meet successful women engineers, doctors, veterinarians, research scientists, and university professors. This year, the hands-on activities are designed for students only. Parents are invited to attend our welcome session.

Discovery Days
Discovery Days is an outreach program involving many of the Science Departments at OSU as well as departments from Agriculture and Engineering. This two-day event, held in both the Fall and Spring terms, features displays and hands-on activities from different departments that are suitable for all ages.

Family Science and Engineering Nights
OSU students and faculty bring hands-on science and engineering activities to local elementary schools for students and their families.

Fresh Grown Cooking for Kids
The Healthy Youth Program at the Linus Pauling Institute (LPI) offers a cooking and nutrition education program for youth ages 6-12. Youth learn basic cooking and kitchen safety skills and engage all their senses as they explore nutritious recipes and prepare meals together.

Recruitment and Retention of Women and Minorities in Engineering
Committed to bringing more woman and minorities to OSU to become tomorrow’s engineers through our three pronged approach of Recruitment, Retention and Research. Activities include K-12 school visits, sponsoring teacher/career counselor workshops, OSU Engineering tours, developing lesson plans for K-12 classes.

Salmon Bowl
The annual National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) is a tournament-style academic competition designed to challenge and recognize students’ knowledge of math, science, and social science in the context of the oceans. OSU hosts a one-day regional competition in February before the two-day final national competition among high school teams. Categories include the biology, chemistry, geology, physics, history, and economics of the world’s oceans, as well as navigation, geography, and ocean-related current events.

SMILE: The Science and Math Investigative Learning Experiences Program
A pre-college program for historically underrepresented and other educationally under served students in Oregon. This program focuses on college recruitment through science and math enrichment.

STEPs: Scientists and Teachers in Education Partnerships
The STEPs program is a K-12 science outreach program whose mission is to support and improve science, math, health, and engineering education for K-12 teachers and students throughout the state of Oregon. STEPs fulfills its mission by offering professional development workshops in all areas of science, loaning classroom sets of equipment related to workshop topics, assisting school districts with STEM curriculum materials development, publishing curriculum on-line, hosting family math and science nights and science outreach events in communities and hosting high school science class visits at Oregon State University.

Suitcase Oceanography
These are available on an as-requested basis and are free to elementary school teachers. Suitcase Lessons are portable modules for K-6 students based on the FOSS science curriculum. They are designed with complete materials and instructions so any member of the OSU Oceanography faculty, graduate student, or a scientist working at an oceanography institute can to a classroom and successfully present the lessons. These kits can be checked out from COAS. Outreach opportunities include developing more lessons or creating suitcase lessons of your own.

Team TOX
TEAM Tox is comprised of students and post-docs affiliated with the Environmental and Molecular Toxicology department who combine their efforts to facilitate K-12 educators, introduce kids and teenagers to science and encourage all to pursue higher education.

Winter Wonderings
An academic program of discovery and wonder for talented and gifted youth where new and exciting areas of study are offered in a fast-paced learning environment.


4-H International Summer Camp
The 24-hour-a-day “4-H International Summer Camps” are designed for underserved youth in grades 3rd-12th.  Main activities focus on technology (Lego Robotics, GPS, Microscopes, digital photography and video), environmental science, and natural resources (forestry, water quality, wildlife, agriculture). Other activities include general math and science skills, history, healthy lifestyles, health professions, preparing for and attending college. Campers also participate in swimming, canoeing, basketball, volleyball, soccer, and archery.

4-H Summer Conference at OSU
Summer Conference is an opportunity for youth grades 7-12 to travel to Corvallis, explore campus life, make new friends, learn, and have a lot of fun. While here, participants attend workshops on a wide variety of subjects. Over 80 classes are offered in Art, Engineering, History, Literature, Math, Music and Science.

Apprenticeships in Science and Engineering (ASE)
The Apprenticeships in Science and Engineering (ASE) Program matches bright, motivated high school students with professional scientists and engineers for eight-week, full-time summer internships. Students assist mentors with research and other activities, learning first-hand about science and engineering careers in the process. Interns attend two full-day conferences during the summer, gaining additional exposure to diverse careers in scientific and engineering fields, and developing skills that will serve them well in technical careers. ASE is part of Saturday Academy, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization (

Chefs in the Garden
The Healthy Youth Program at the Linus Pauling Institute (LPI) is offering summer day camps at the Corvallis High School Spartan Garden for children ages 6-12. Participants will learn to grow and harvest their own food; cook and eat lunch in the garden; discover edible flowers, garden pollinators, and soil critters; build bug traps and beetle habitats; have fun painting with plants and other garden art activities; play games and have a scavenger hunt outside; and end the week inviting their families for a cookout in the garden.

COSEY (Center for Outreach in Science and Engineering for Youth)
COSEY has developed a library of project-based activity kits with a sustainability theme that will be used to engage 6th-8th grade students in multi-day summer camps to be held in communities throughout Oregon during the summer. Camp activities are rich with possibilities, including a mock oil spill activity in which students test substances that can remove oil from water, a homemade solar panel lesson in which student use titanium dioxide and berry juice to generate an electrical current, a computer design lesson in which students use innovative software to create a “green” dream home, and much more. The outreach program is partnering with Boys and Girls Clubs, 4-H programs, Oregon GEAR UP programs, and other extracurricular and summer camp organizations to expand opportunities in science and engineering education to diverse students across the state, focusing on programs with a track record for serving rural and underserved students.

da Vinci Days
See the latest research and education at Oregon State University. Demos and activities for all ages, from across disciplines, including chemical and bio-engineering, forestry, geosciences, and oceanic and atmospheric sciences.

A half-day educational experience in which gifted and talented youth are introduced to a variety of engaging, intriguing subjects in an enjoyable and nurturing environment.

Fresh Grown Cooking for Families
The Healthy Youth Program at the Linus Pauling Institute hosts a free cooking and gardening class for children and their parents to learn gardening basics and how to incorporate fresh harvested produce into nourishing and affordable family meals.

GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs)
GEAR UP is a federal program that promotes college readiness for low-income students in rural locations. OSU partners with the Sweet Home GEAR UP cluster to provide annual summer camps that integrate science and engineering project-based activities, reinforce college planning curriculum and provide an inspiring on-campus experience to students.

OSU Summer Veterinary Experience
The OSU Summer Veterinary Experience is a hands-on learning experience for academically talented, low-income and minority high school students interested in veterinary medicine.

Outside the Box
A unique combination of in-depth academic explorations and social interaction for talented and gifted youth in which participants experience discovery, challenge, and excitement with offerings designed to address their accelerated interests and abilities.

Spirited Kids in Engineering and Science (SKIES)
A collaboration between the School of Engineering and KidSpirit, this program provides engaging hands-on science activities as part of KidSpirit summer camps for Corvallis area students (K-5).

Young Entrepreneur’s Business Week (YEBW)
YEBW’s college-accredited programs apply textbook theory to real world situations. Students reside in Weatherford Hall and experience the value of business skills for any occupation. Participants are placed in mock companies and are given the opportunity to lead their peers as the CEO, crunch numbers as part of the finance team, or develop a marketing plan to skyrocket their sales. They learn business and investing strategies, develop leadership skills, and are inspired to network and prepare for their future.