STEM Bridge Camp gives new students a jump-start in math and science


George Mason University has offered summer programming for incoming Patriots every summer since 2011. Previous offerings included a one-week math boot camp and a one-week STEM camp. This year they were combined to form a new two-week STEM Bridge Camp, held July 24-Aug. 4 at the Fairfax Campus.

Many peer leaders faculty members and support staff helped make this year’s combined camp a success. Faculty walked students through sample science classes, reviewed lab protocols, and provided daily math instruction. Students also got advice from upper-class Patriots about taking classes and preparing for exams.

Students participate in activities at STEM bridge camp
Students in STEM Bridge camp learn about fingerprints during Forensic Science instruction. Photo provided

In a STEM challenge research activity, students worked in small groups, to  develop and test research questions related to temperature and humidity. After they collected data using a research-grade thermometer, Taylor Anderson helped them visualize it. The students gave presentations on their work at the conclusion of the camp. 

The program also allows incoming freshmen to get a taste of residential college life before the semester starts and become more familiar with campus, as well as take field trips to Washington, D.C., and Mason's SciTech Campus, the latter to experience The Edge, the team development and experiential learning program available through Mason Recreation.

Presentations on climate change from Mason researchers Luis Ortiz and Jim Kinter bookended the two weeks of camp. Students also learned about fingerprints and DNA analysis with Forensic Science faculty members Chris Durac and Georgia Williams.

The mathematics portion of camp was organized by Rosemberg Toala-enriquez, who was assisted by multiple math GTAs and two Mason alumni math teachers, Sheeva Doshireh and Harnam Arneja. After taking the math boot camp, all students improved their scores on their math placement exams, and many were placed into higher level math classes as a result.  

This year's camp was in part funded by Strategic Investment Funds from the President's Office, which Tina Bell and Rebecca Jones applied for in December 2022.

STEM Bridge Camp is just one of many activities administrated and led by the STEM Accelerator, a unique interdisciplinary collective of faculty committed to improve STEM education at Mason.

This story originally appeared on the College of Science website.