The MIT Beaver Works Summer Institute (BWSI) is a rigorous, world-class STEM program for talented students who will be entering their senior year in high school. The four-week program teaches STEM skills through project-based, workshop-style courses. BWSI began in 2016 with a single course offered to 46 students, a mix of local daytime students and out-of-state residential students. In this course, RACECAR (Rapid Autonomous Complex Environment Competing Ackermann steering) students programmed small robotic cars to autonomously navigate a racetrack.
The positive student reaction to our hands-on learning style led to the expansion of the program to include two additional courses in 2017, Autonomous Air Vehicle Racing and Autonomous Cognitive Assistant. To make sure students had the STEM background to participate fully in the three courses, the BWSI instructors developed online tutorials that students had to complete as a prerequisite for applying for the summer program. In 2017, 98 students from 49 high schools nationwide enjoyed BWSI.
In 2018, we grew again, we added five courses to our three earlier ones; each new course also has a requisite online tutorial. The 2018 class of BWSI boasted 198 young people from 106 high schools from across the country and Puerto Rico. Both last year and this, we have had teams from Massachusetts and outside the United States participate in our RACECAR Grand Prix after they completed the course curriculum on their own.
For 2019, we are offering ten courses along with online content. The courses are described in detail in the brochures linked above. The courses are continuing to build skills in even more technology areas to teach students the skills, both technical and teamwork, to succeed in science and engineering.
We are continuing to offer these and are developing new project-based course at BWSI, but we have a vision to expand the program beyond what we can support ourselves, so we are working with collaborators to scale up the program nationally and internationally. We are looking to advise high school STEM teachers who want to incorporate the BWSI concepts and materials into their classrooms. Our vision is a broad network of BWSI-like programs that will help improve engineering education, and toward that goal, we will share our work and ideas with universities and high schools worldwide.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on how to adopt this program into your school curriculum.