Only a week remains in the 2019 Secondary Student Training Program, which means that the students are busy putting the final touches on their research. By this Thursday, each participant in the program will have produced a poster detailing their findings.
To celebrate their accomplishments, the students will first present their work in a final poster competition. On Thursday afternoon, a panel of judges will hear the students’ presentations and view the posters. On Friday morning, the students’ work will then be officially unveiled in a public poster session.
This year, the public poster session will take place in the Iowa Memorial Union Main Lounge from 9:00-10:00am on July 26. Everyone interested in SSTP research, and research at the University of Iowa, is warmly invited to attend!
Once you’ve started your application, write down your username and password! The $75 application fee applies for each application account you start on the portal, so be sure you can log back in when it’s time to finish your application later.
Contact your references now! The application requires two references from you: First, the academic reference, which should come from a teacher who can speak to your abilities in your desired research fields; Second, the character reference, which should come from a mentor who can speak to your character and maturity as a person. We define mentor broadly. Past applicants have chosen teachers, coaches, counselors, pastors, rabbis, etc. Just make sure that your mentor is not a friend or family member. Once your teacher and mentor have agree to provide references on your behalf, enter their email addresses into the appropriate field in your application. We will then email them a few short questions. They have until February 1st to send us their responses. Late references cannot be accepted, and it’s your responsibility to follow up and ensure that your references respond on time.
Start your essays now! We ask for two separate pieces of writing from you: First, a 750-word essay describing your research interests and background; And second, a 750-word essay explaining why SSTP is a good fit for you. We recommend writing and editing your essays in a separate document and pasting them into the application platform once you’re satisfied with your work. Please bear in mind that the essay fields in the online platform will save your essays as plain text, meaning that your formatting will not be kept.
Carefully consider your desired research areas. In the application, we will ask you for top three research areas, and we include a list of research areas that other SSTP students have used in the past. If you do not see your desired field, that’s fine! You may write in research areas that we have not listed. If you’re not sure what’s available, be sure to check out our virtual poster session on the SSTP website, where you can view past students’ work. Although not every research area you see there will necessarily be available in 2019, what you see can give you a good idea of the kind of research that students have been able to do in the past.
You may only submit one set of test scores. We recommend the SAT, ACT, PSAT, or PLAN, but if you have not taken one of those four tests, you may also submit state-administered standardized test scores. Since you may only submit one set of scores, we strongly advise against submitting SATII subject test scores. If you are a non-native speaker of English, no problem! You do not have to submit TOEFLs scores or any other proof of English ability. Your English results from the SAT, ACT, etc., will suffice.
Review the costs of the program. For students applying from within the US, the total costs will add up to $6,270. US students may also apply for financial aid within the online application platform. For students applying from outside the US, however, no financial aid may be awarded. Additionally, students applying from outside the US must pay an additional $550 fee to cover the costs of insurance and two additional nights of room and board, bringing the total costs of the program for international students to $6820.
When you’re done, save your application and leave it is as! There’s no “submit button.” Whatever you have on your application as of February 1st will be what we use to make admission decisions. Until February 1st, you may return to your application and make edits as often as you like. Applications are considered on a non-rolling basis, so there are no advantages to finishing early other than peace of mind and the assurance that your application is complete. You will be able to see at-a-glance what sections still need your attention using the little red lights. Once they all have turned green, you’re all set.
If you have any questions, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. During times of high inquiry volume, it may take us up to two business days to respond to your email, so please contact us sooner rather than later to ensure that you receive your response in a timely manner.
A special congratulations goes out to this year’s valedictory class speaker, Iowa’s own Riley Dejohn, who spent his summer researching physical chemistry in Dr. Alexei Tivanski’s group at the University. Also featured was special guest speaker Dr. Hanna Stevens, professor of psychology and veteran SSTP mentor, who shared her insights gleaned over years of pedagogy during the final banquet dinner.
Thank you to our guest judges from Integrated DNA Technologies, without whom the final poster competition would not have been possible, and to the 2018 SSTP mentors at the University, for all of the guidance and leadership they gave to each student. We know that you have made a huge difference in the lives and careers of these future researchers!
Check out this great story about a graduate student who works with a mentor for the Secondary Student Training Program, one of the Belin-Blank Center’s summer programs. Congratulations, Jake!
Not only do our mentors guide SSTP students in the summer, but they are also overlooking the work of graduate students in their labs. Randall McEntaffer is an associate physics professor with a research interest in x-ray astronomy and instrumentation. He currently mentors Jake McCoy who has recently received a NASA fellowship. Read more here at Iowa Now!
The Secondary Student Training Program (SSTP) connects high-achieving high school students with faculty mentors from the University of Iowa. Through this program, students gain first-hand experience with a faculty mentor’s research during five-and-a-half weeks of the summer. Applications are due February 26th, 2016. Get ready for another fun summer at the Belin-Blank Center!
Check out the SSTP website for more information on SSTP and the application process.
Readers of this newsletter already know the response – complement. In fact, it makes more sense to consider these terms as points on a continuum of developing excellence and even eminence. That is exactly what we hope to accomplish with the help of a Talent Development Award from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation for Iowa STEM Excellence and Literacy (SEAL).
Philosophically, we recognize that excellence and literacy — at times –must be treated as independent goals. We must demonstrate respect for the diverse populations that require a focus on one or the other, while never losing sight of the ways in which literacy and excellence can enhance each other. If we consider literacy and excellence as points on a continuum of performance and achievement, then educational stakeholders, which would be all of us, will not be forced into making choices based upon the false assumption that literacy and excellence represent a dichotomy – especially in STEM.
The concept of a continuum of expertise struck me about a month ago when I had the opportunity to present very briefly to University of Iowa College of Education colleagues, Iowa Department of Education (DOE) officials, and local state legislators concerning the STEM excellence programs of the Belin-Blank Center. There were multiple presentations that morning and several featured the reading literacy program jointly operated by the DOE and the College of Education. During our time together, we also learned about a science writing heuristic being implemented in elementary classrooms across the state. This science writing program has the potential to improve performance across content areas. I was delighted to be part of the entire morning. I especially liked learning that science writing in elementary schools has been formalized because decades ago, in my first professional life as a science teacher, my junior high school students completed lots of writing in my science classes. I collaborated with the language arts and social studies teachers well before interdisciplinary was in vogue. Fast forward four decades to Belin-Blank Center programming. Our STEM classes for elementary students build upon our research demonstrating that only 1 in 10 very bright students will be challenged in their elementary science class. We are implementing a STEM excellence program for middle-school students that has a proven record of improving achievement and aspirations of students. Our capstone STEM program, the Secondary Student Training Program (SSTP) program, during which high school students spend five weeks on the University of Iowa campus doing graduate level research with some of the UI’s premier researchers, is the essence of excellence. The five-week SSTP program culminates in a poster fair that epitomizes excellence in STEM literacy.
What’s next in the area of STEM excellence? The Belin-Blank Center administrative staff, along with the College of Education and the UI President’s and Provost’s offices, are working very hard to realize a Belin-Blank STEM academy. Such an academy will be an important addition to the Belin-Blank Center’s programs and, by extension, to the university and state. We are grateful that the College of Education and the University of Iowa have stepped up in support of this effort. The question that remains: will the state of Iowa step up? Stay tuned for more about the STEM academy, the SEAL program, and other Belin-Blank Center advances in STEM.
In closing, I want to thank the Belin-Blank Center staff for their commitment to ALL of the programming that we provide. Our students, parents, and colleagues are well-served by the many dedicated staff members.
The Secondary Student Training Program connects high-achieving high school students with inspirational faculty mentors from the University of Iowa Colleges of Dentistry, Engineering, Liberal Arts and Sciences, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, and Public Health. Through this program, students gain first-hand experience with authentic STEM research and make connections with STEM professionals.
If you are currently (academic year 2014–2015) in grade 10 or 11, you may apply for the Secondary Student Training Program. This five-week residential summer research program will place you on the University of Iowa campus from Sunday, June 21– Friday, July 24. During your stay in Iowa City, you will spend approximately 40 hours per week researching in a field of interest to you. You will even have a life outside of the lab with evenings filled with social and academic activities.
Applications are due February 27, 2015, but now is a great time to start collecting all of the necessary information for a great application! Check out the Belin-Blank Center’s Summer Programs website when the application process opens on November 1, 2014, and read the Secondary Student Training Program blog to learn more about if this program is for you.
“By helping our [highly talented] students, we help ourselves, because they hold in their hands not only their own futures but our shared future, as well.”
(p.113) From Richard Rusczyk’s chapter, “Extracurricular Opportunities for Mathematically Gifted Middle School Students” in The Peak in the Middle, Edited by M. Saul, S. G. Assouline, & L. J. Sheffield (2010).
This issue of Vision features the multiple opportunities at the Belin-Blank Center for gifted students– either in the competitions hosted this past spring (Invent Iowa, Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, Junior Science Humanities Symposium, or American Regions Mathematics League) or programs for this summer, which will begin on the 16th of June. These opportunities are so much more than a summer activity to keep kids busy! Indeed, they are – often – pivotal to the student’s development of his or her talent area. Schools offer a great deal to our talented students, but it would be impossible for any school – or teacher –to do it all, which is why extracurricular programs are so critical to talent development.
Below, I’ve synthesized three benefits of extracurricular activities for highly capable students from the Rusczyk chapter (see p. 103):
Intensive experiences shared with an outstanding peer group;
Interaction with university-level content experts;
Opportunities for immersion in the specified content domain.
If you will be on the University of Iowa campus on July 25, 2014, from 10 am to noon, I encourage you to stop by the Old Capitol Center for the Secondary Student Training Program (SSTP) poster session. SSTP is, in many ways, the culminating experience of the Belin-Blank Center’s summer student programs. During this 5-week program, highly talented high school students from all over the country conduct research with UI researchers in their labs. Students earn 3 semester hours of university credit and, for many students, this is the defining moment in an academic career.
And, speaking of defining moments ….even though teachers of gifted and talented students have just packed away the final papers from this past school year, their commitment to their students is not packed away. Professional development for educators has already commenced and it’s always a joy to see teachers on campus and/or to learn about their “ah-ha moments” from their online experiences. New this summer are the two one-week Chautauquas, which will feature three workshops during each week. Having once been a teacher of junior high and high schools students, I know first-hand just how valuable these experiences are for teachers. Indeed, the same three benefits for highly capable students apply to the teachers who take the time to attend a summer professional development class or classes.
Whether you are a student, parent, teacher, or colleague, I know that you join me in wishing all of the Belin-Blank Center professionals the very best this summer as we dedicate ourselves to living up to our tag line: Nurturing Potential…Inspiring Excellence.
If you are wondering what impact the SSTP program has on a student, ask Dr. Men-Jean Lee (right), who attended SSTP in the 80s, and is now an associate professor at Indiana University School of Medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and has an NIH-funded research lab of her own. Dr. Lee returned to The University of Iowa this summer to attend the poster sessions from the 2012 SSTP group, including the poster generated from the research by her son Alessandro Del Priore.
Not only did Dr. Lee attend SSTP, so too did her siblings . . . Dr. Chong-Chia Lee went on to earn an MD/PhD in Neurobiology at the University of Chicago and is a neurosurgeon at the Kaiser Medical Center in Seattle, Washington. Next in line was Ming Lee Peterson who graduated from the Massachusetts Institutes of Technology (MIT) and earned a Masters in Bioelectrics from Northwestern University. The youngest Lee sibling is Richard Lee, who also graduated from MIT and is a computer engineering consultant in the oil industry.
Opportunities like SSTP are invaluable in the academic and social development of bright students. Dr. Lee shared that after completing 3 summers at the SSTP, she kept in touch with the research scientist and laboratory associate who helped her plan her research career as a physician scientist when she was accepted into the Honors Program in Medical Education at Northwestern University. Some of the methodologies and research skills she learned at the SSTP helped her through medical school and beyond. The SSTP opens a whole new world to impressionable high school students to inspire the next generation of physicians and scientists for our nation.
Now, Alessandro is an honors student at Regis High School in New York City, the same high school which graduated Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the NIAID at the National Institutes of Health. Alessandro was truly inspired by his SSTP experience in the laboratory of Dr. Chun-Fang Wu and hopes that his drosophila research can be continued as he progresses through his academic training.