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Philosophy and Structure of the Curriculum

The curriculum of SSI is grounded in problem-based learning and is designed to introduce basic science concepts as well as help to develop the skills needed to solve quantitative and conceptual problems. The program is taught in a continuous, integrated format, where each lesson will build on topics taught earlier. The program also emphasizes the importance of technology in data analysis and presentation. Most weeks will include a visit to a health or science-related professional school. Students will be expected to present a final project at the end of the eight-week session.

TeachingThe Summer Science Institute has four primary academic objectives:



Download a sample week-by-week schedule as a printable PDF file here.


Introduce key concepts that underlie chemistry and other sciences

Chemistry is one of the more challenging subjects in the pre-health curriculum and it also underlies many other sciences, such as biology and physics. Chemistry also relies heavily on mathematics to explain and understand chemical reactions. For this reason, the eight-week SSI curriculum focuses on fundamental concepts and quantitative applications of basic chemistry, through discussion, study and application of concepts such as:

  • Atomic structure
  • Interpreting the periodic table
  • States of matter
  • Atomic interactions and bonding
  • Kinetics, thermodynamics and equilibrium
  • Dimensional Analysis

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Reinforce essential quantitative abilities used in the sciences

Quantitative skills are required throughout pre-health pre-requisite courses. In addition to having a solid, basic understanding of algebra, geometry and trigonometry and being able to use these mathematical methods to solve problems, pre-health students must also know how to interpret formulas, graphs and tables and make inferences from each of these. The SSI curriculum introduces and develops these skills throughout its curriculum, and provides additional interactive problem solving workshops for students who need to further strengthen their mathematical skills. This component of the curriculum will emphasize:

  • Math as a symbolic system
  • Applications of Algebra in science
  • Interpreting tables, graphs, and formulas
  • Scientific and exponential notation
  • Orders of magnitude

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Build functional knowledge of important academic and scientific technologies

In addition to the didactic components of the SSI curriculum, students will also learn about the importance of technology in data analysis and presentation. Through a series of technology labs, students will learn how to use Excel and PowerPoint to analyze and present scientific data by:

  • Tabulating data
  • Performing statistical analyses
  • Preparing tables and graphs
  • Presenting a final project using PowerPoint

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Strengthen study skills, as well as academic planning

Throughout the eight- week course teachers will introduce students to a variety of study skills that are effective for managing the large quantities of complex information introduced in pre-health science courses. In addition to in-class presentations, SSI teachers will also be available for individual consultation. All students in the program are required to meet with a pre-health advisor and develop an academic plan for the fall and spring semesters following the summer program.

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