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Westminster College STEM Academy

June 27–30, 2016

Quick Facts

Date & Time

June 27–30 from 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.


Westminster College Hoyt Science Center and various field trips to high-tech companies in the area

You're Invited

The first 30 students entering grades nine and ten. Registrations following will be added to the waitlist.

About STEM Academy

This year’s STEM Academy is founded on the book and movie The Martian, concentrating on the experimental science of surviving in outer space. Aside from being given hands on experiences exploring STEM in a college setting, students will conduct experiments alongside Westminster College’s scientists and professors that could lead to their hypothetical survival on Planet Mars.

Students are encouraged, but not required, to read or watch The Martian prior to attending STEM Academy.

Tentative Experiments
  • Testing the microbiology of soil by culturing and identifying the microbes living in the soil at Westminster College

  • Examining solar energy on Earth and Mars by studying how photovoltaics work, testing conditions to maximize energy production, and constructing a working dye-sensitized solar cell

  • Studying the motion of planets and stars in the sky by learning proper stargazing skills and practicing those skills in the Planetarium Theater and Observatory

  • Honing in on the challenge of surviving on Mars by investigating the thermodynamics and kinetics of heat flow associated with temperature regulation

  • Examining how the human brain is trained for survival by studying how our brains operate in times of stress, testing themselves and laboratory rats to demonstrate whether or not they are wired for survival

  • Assessing algorithmic analysis and time complexity by learning how to move vehicles, or Mars rovers, from one point to another in the shortest feasible path

Interacting with NASA

Students will also participate in field trips to area high-technology companies to learn about the practical aspects of space exploration. Throughout the week, students will remotely interact with NASA scientists through video chats and webinars.


Lunch is provided. Please identify special dietary needs on the registration form.


$250 per student

Financial Aid

Students who may qualify for financial aid should contact Dr. Peter Smith.


Contact Dr. Peter Smith, event coordinator and professor and chair of chemistry, at (724) 946-7299 or

Registration Closed