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Summer STEM Camps for High School Students: Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming

Updated on September 5, 2018
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The Governor's Academy for Engineering Studies is an award-winning STEM specialty center that supports hands-on engineering education.

Summer STEM Camp Opportunities That Are Out Of This World

Take advantage of the excellent summer STEM camp opportunities that exist in the states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming.  Opportunity awaits!
Take advantage of the excellent summer STEM camp opportunities that exist in the states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming. Opportunity awaits! | Source

Top STEM Opportunities In the American Southwest

If you're a high school student with a career interest in STEM, then excellent summer camp opportunities await you in Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico.

"But dude," you say. "I don't even live in those states." And I say that sometimes you must go grab excellent opportunities—educational or otherwise. Stay with me here. Think about what you'll learn and how this will help you in college applications and beyond!

These top notch STEM opportunities in the Southwest are worth the travel, don't you think?

Summer STEM Camps: Come Take Advantage

A
University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming:
E University Ave, Laramie, WY, USA

get directions

B
University of Colorado - Boulder:
University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO, USA

get directions

C
U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO:
U.S. Air Force Academy, CO, USA

get directions

D
Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico:
Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico 87544, USA

get directions

E
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro, New Mexico:
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro, NM, USA

get directions

F
Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ:
Arizona State University, Tempe Campus, Tempe, AZ, USA

get directions

(2 camps are located here)

G
Biosphere 2, Arizona:
Biosphere 2, Oracle, AZ, USA

get directions

H
Kit Peak National Observatory, Tucson, Arizona:
Kitt Peak National Observatory, Tucson, AZ, USA

get directions

We'll Be Updating For Summer 2019!

If you missed camp deadlines for 2018, simply bookmark this page and check back for 2019 camp updates. Summer STEM camps typically begin announcing their upcoming summer schedule in December or January.

An aerial demonstration of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbird Team's F-16 during a Desert Air Show at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona in 2009.
An aerial demonstration of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbird Team's F-16 during a Desert Air Show at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona in 2009. | Source

1. U.S. Air Force Academy Engineering & Construction Camp

Together with the U.S. Air Force Academy, each year the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) sponsors an engineering and construction summer camp in Colorado Springs, CO. This long-running camp targets high school students who excel in math and science and intend to pursue engineering in college.

Campers have three hours to collaborate on building a 16-foot concrete beam. After testing and breaking the beams, a professional engineer then leads a debrief about why some designs worked better than others. Using a hands-on, learn-by-doing approach, students also get to build sprinkler systems, a woodshed, a waste water system and participate in other fun projects.

Campers must be 15 years old, a U.S. citizen, and have an expressed desire to pursue a degree in architecture, engineering or a related field. Health and other requirements are detailed on the U.S. Air Force Academy SAME Engineering & Construction Camp website.

The total registration fee for the camp is $580, of which the student is responsible for only half. The SAME post that sponsors the student pays for the other half. Direct your application materials to your local SAME post.

In 2016, NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will travel to Bennu, a near-Earth asteroid, to collect  samples and bring them back to earth to study. This will help us understand how planets formed.
In 2016, NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will travel to Bennu, a near-Earth asteroid, to collect samples and bring them back to earth to study. This will help us understand how planets formed. | Source

2. & 3. The Summer Science Program at New Mexico Tech and the University of Colorado - Boulder

Are you a budding astrophysicist? Join other highly motivated students in a team-based asteroid orbit determination research project at one of two locations: New Mexico Tech in Socorro, NM or University of Colorado in Boulder.

In this research-based, 39-day residential enrichment program, students receive a high level of individual attention. The spirit of cooperation is reinforced by this: no tests, no grades, and no formal credit.

The cost of the program is $5,450. Camp organizers stress that financial need should not be a factor in your decision to apply. They also encourage women and minorities to apply.

Selection to the program is competitive. Successful applicants are typically rising high school seniors who are currently taking or have already taken pre-calculus and calculus. More information is available at the following website: Summer Science Program.

The Las Conchas Fire: Destruction and Renewal

Click thumbnail to view full-size
In 2011, The Las Conchas Fire started when a fallen tree came in contact with nearby power lines. The fire burned over 121,000 acres, including 63 residences near the Los Alamos National Laboratory.On Day 1 of the Las Conchas Wildfire, the fire had burned over 43,623 acres and was already the largest wildfire in New Mexico history.This is an example of new growth after forest fires.  Sunrise over Los Alamos National Labs
In 2011, The Las Conchas Fire started when a fallen tree came in contact with nearby power lines. The fire burned over 121,000 acres, including 63 residences near the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
In 2011, The Las Conchas Fire started when a fallen tree came in contact with nearby power lines. The fire burned over 121,000 acres, including 63 residences near the Los Alamos National Laboratory. | Source
On Day 1 of the Las Conchas Wildfire, the fire had burned over 43,623 acres and was already the largest wildfire in New Mexico history.
On Day 1 of the Las Conchas Wildfire, the fire had burned over 43,623 acres and was already the largest wildfire in New Mexico history. | Source
Source
This is an example of new growth after forest fires.
This is an example of new growth after forest fires. | Source
Sunrise over Los Alamos National Labs
Sunrise over Los Alamos National Labs | Source

4. Global Environmental Leadership & Sustainability Program - Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico

Forest fires are devastating, and you've probably grown up thinking that they are utterly awful forces of nature, right? This 8-day course on environmental leadership and sustainability will challenge some of that thinking as you learn about the impact of climate change and fires on the Los Alamos and Valles Caldera ecosystems.

Collect data on reforestation and fire prevention and gain valuable knowledge regarding how a forest both needs and recovers from fires. A collaborative program between University of California at San Diego and University of New Mexico in Los Alamos, New Mexico, it targets rising 10th, 11th and 12th graders with a cumulative GPA of 3.3. College credit is available. Cost of the camp is $2,600, which includes room, meals, and activities.

For more information, see the Global Environmental Leadership & Sustainability website.

Go "Under the Glass" This Summer: Study In the Biosphere 2

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Biosphere 2 is located on a 40 acre science campus that is has been owned by the University of Arizona since 2011.The Biosphere began as a private venture before changing ownership several times.  It is now a center for scientific research, outreach, teaching, and lifelong learning about the Earth and its habitats.These domes house the Biospherians.Located half an hour outside Tucson, Arizona, the Biosphere is the largest closed system created by humans.Biosphere 2 contains biomes such as a rainforest, an ocean with a coral reef, a mangrove wetlands area, a savannah grassland, a fog desert, an agricultural system, a human habitat, and below-ground infrastructure.
The Biosphere 2 is located on a 40 acre science campus that is has been owned by the University of Arizona since 2011.
The Biosphere 2 is located on a 40 acre science campus that is has been owned by the University of Arizona since 2011. | Source
The Biosphere began as a private venture before changing ownership several times.  It is now a center for scientific research, outreach, teaching, and lifelong learning about the Earth and its habitats.
The Biosphere began as a private venture before changing ownership several times. It is now a center for scientific research, outreach, teaching, and lifelong learning about the Earth and its habitats. | Source
These domes house the Biospherians.
These domes house the Biospherians. | Source
Located half an hour outside Tucson, Arizona, the Biosphere is the largest closed system created by humans.
Located half an hour outside Tucson, Arizona, the Biosphere is the largest closed system created by humans. | Source
Biosphere 2 contains biomes such as a rainforest, an ocean with a coral reef, a mangrove wetlands area, a savannah grassland, a fog desert, an agricultural system, a human habitat, and below-ground infrastructure.
Biosphere 2 contains biomes such as a rainforest, an ocean with a coral reef, a mangrove wetlands area, a savannah grassland, a fog desert, an agricultural system, a human habitat, and below-ground infrastructure. | Source

Reader Poll

If a group of researchers locked themselves in the Biosphere 2 for months at a time, what would pose the BIGGEST challenge?

See results

5. Global Environmental Leadership & Sustainability Program - Biosphere 2, Arizona

Become an environmental scientist of the Biospherian kind in this 8-day residential course. You'll learn hands-on about key climate change research topics that B2 scientists are engaging in, including water, energy, soils, volatile organic compounds, marine viruses, urban heat island effect, and many other topics.

The cost of the program is $3,000 and includes room, meals, and activities. It is geared towards rising 10th, 11th and 12th graders with a cumulative GPA of 3.3. College credit is available.

The program represents a collaborative effort between University of California at San Diego and University of Arizona in Oracle, Arizona. The Biosphere 2 is owned by the University of Arizona and located about a half hour outside of Tucson.

More information can be found at the Global Environmental Leadership & Sustainability website.

Ahhh, The Wonders Of Space

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Andromeda Galaxy is the nearest major galaxy to the Milky Way.  It is located approximately 2.5 million light years from Earth.  Orion NebulaTwo galaxies collideNebulosa RosettaCrescent NebulaCat's Eye Nebula
The Andromeda Galaxy is the nearest major galaxy to the Milky Way.  It is located approximately 2.5 million light years from Earth.
The Andromeda Galaxy is the nearest major galaxy to the Milky Way. It is located approximately 2.5 million light years from Earth. | Source
Orion Nebula
Orion Nebula | Source
Two galaxies collide
Two galaxies collide | Source
Nebulosa Rosetta
Nebulosa Rosetta | Source
Crescent Nebula
Crescent Nebula | Source
Cat's Eye Nebula
Cat's Eye Nebula | Source

6. Astronomy Camp at Kit Peak National Observatory

This 7-9 day residential, “immersion” experience is held at major astronomical observatories. Students become astronomers as they operate research-class telescopes, keep nighttime hours, interact with leading scientists, interpret their own observations, and investigate their own questions about astronomy and the universe.

Beginning Camp is for students 12-15 years old with a strong interest in science, astronomy, and engineering. Advanced camp is designed for students ages 14-19 who have completed either Algebra II or Geometry and have an interest in astronomy.

Cost of the camps are $975 for the beginning camp and $995 for the advance camp (including lodging, meals, and local transportation). Consult the following website for additional details: Astronomy Camp at Kit Peak.

Robotics engineers design, build and maintain robots.
Robotics engineers design, build and maintain robots. | Source

7. Summer Engineering Experience at Arizona State University

Arizona State University offers rising high school seniors and future engineers a glimpse of college life in this one-week residential camp. Students get the opportunity to meet engineering faculty members, tour the university's labs, and work in teams on engineering projects.

Cost of the camp is $750, and students must have an overall GPA of 3.0/4.0 to attend. More information is available on the Engineering Outreach webpage.

8.Game Camp for High School Students at Arizona State University

Get a focused, hands-on experience for two whole weeks as you deep dive into the world of gaming. Use the latest software, hardware, and development tools to learn intensive video game creation, visualization and production. If this doesn't pique your interest, there are lots of other high school STEM camp choices at ASU, including: App Camp, Introduction to Circuits, Advanced Material Synthesis and Applications, Robotics, and many more options! Check out the website High School STEM Camps at Arizona State University for more information.

There Are So Many Possible Uses For Robots

Robots have many potential uses, including retrieving bodies from disaster sites where it's too dangerous to send humans.
Robots have many potential uses, including retrieving bodies from disaster sites where it's too dangerous to send humans. | Source

Factors To Consider When Selecting A Summer STEM Camp

 
 
 
Does the age/gender mix of campers work for me?
Do I understand why I want to achieve from this camp? Will I receive enough individual attention for my personal taste?
Are there policies that restrict personal technology use while at camp?
Am I interested enough in the STEM topic to dedicate a week or more to studying it? Does it fit with my career interests?
Does the camp schedule work with my other summer commitments (e.g., work, vacation, school calendar)?
Is the camp a day camp or a residential (live-in) camp?
Is the camp challenging enough? Or perhaps too difficult?
How will I get to camp?
Will attending this specific camp help me in making my career decisions?
If there are qualifications for this camp, do I meet the eligibility guidelines?
How do campers spend their "free" time?
What is the cost of the camp? Is financial aid available? Is it merit-based or need-based?
Are my parents aware and supportive of my plans?
Does the camp use an application or a registration process? What is involved? Have I allowed enough time to write essays, request recommendations, etc.?
If I am not admitted to my first choice of camps, do I have alternatives lined up?
As a source of information and advice, connect with teachers and students who have attended academic camps previously

9. Engineering Summer Program (ESP) at University of Wyoming

In this one-week engineering camp at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, you'll work closely with faculty and advanced students to build your problem solving skills and pique your interest in engineering as a potential career. You might build a digital circuit, study solutions to an environmental issue, program a robotic device or design timber trusses.

Cost of the residential camp is only $300, and it is specifically intended for rising juniors. See the Engineering Summer Program website for additional information.

10. Summer Research Apprenticeship University of Wyoming

High school juniors and seniors, get paid to learn! During this six-week paid internship, you'll receive meaningful, hands-on research experience in science, mathematics, statistics, and/or engineering with the goal of encouraging a choice of college major and/or career in select STEM fields. Students are assigned to departments such as molecular biology, chemistry, engineering, geology, mathematics, statistics, nursing, botany, and psychology.

As a research apprentice, you'll be paid $9.00/hour (not to exceed $2,160). The university also covers the expenses of housing and meals and provides local transportation and access to weekend activities during your stay.

See the University of Wyoming's Summer Research Apprenticeship for details and to apply.

© 2015 Governor's Academy for Engineering Studies

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