14 Research and Summer Programs in Iowa For High School Students

The top research programs in Iowa for high school students, selected based on prestige, location, and affordability. See research opportunities in other states here.

Institution
Location
Tuition
Event type

Hosting Institution

Polygence

Online/In Person

Online

Location

Online

Cost

Starting at $2695

Application Deadline

Jun 15, 2024

Categories

Neuroscience, Biology, Psychol...

Summary

Polygence is an online research program designed to offer high school students accessible research opportunities, making them more inclusive. The program was created by researchers from Harvard, MIT, and Stanford and provides tailored research projects, allowing students to explore their interests, acquire professional skills, and increase their competitiveness for college admissions.

Secondary Student Training Program (SSTP)

See website

Hosting Institution

University of Iowa

Online/In Person

In Person

Location

Iowa City (IA)

Cost

$7,595

Application Deadline

Feb 16, 2024

Categories

Chemistry

Summary

Geared towards talented and motivated students in their sophomore and junior years, this program is specifically tailored for those who have demonstrated exceptional abilities. With a highly selective admissions process, it provides students with a unique opportunity to engage in research across a diverse range of fields, including Biochemistry, Religious Studies, and more. Accepted participants are paired with experienced faculty mentors who provide guidance and support throughout the program. Working within the well-equipped laboratories on the University of Iowa campus, students have access to state-of-the-art facilities and resources to conduct their research projects. The program spans a period of five weeks, during which participants immerse themselves in their chosen field of study. They have the opportunity to delve deep into their research topic, apply theoretical concepts, and gain hands-on experience in experimental techniques. By actively participating in research, students enhance their analytical and critical thinking skills while developing a deeper understanding of their academic discipline. The application deadline for this competitive program is on February 18th, emphasizing the need for early preparation and submission. Successful applicants will have the chance to work alongside accomplished researchers and contribute to ongoing scholarly work at the University of Iowa. Overall, this program offers a valuable and enriching experience for advanced students, allowing them to explore their academic interests, refine their research skills, and work closely with faculty mentors. It serves as a stepping stone towards their future academic and professional pursuits, providing a solid foundation for success in their chosen fields.

Iowa Young Writer's Studio

See website

Hosting Institution

University of Iowa

Online/In Person

In Person

Location

Iowa City (IA)

Cost

$2,500

Application Deadline

May 15, 2024

Categories

Quantitative, Literature and L...

Summary

If you’re accepted to the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio's Summer Residential Program, you will choose a single Core Course of study—Poetry, Fiction, Creative Writing (a survey that includes poetry, fiction, and personal essay), TV Writing, or Playwriting—as your focus for the two weeks of the program.

One Course Summer Institute - Engineering Exploration: Hands-On Learning Experience

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Hosting Institution

Cornell College

Online/In Person

In Person

Location

Mount Vernon, IA

Cost

$3,200-$4,000

Application Deadline

Jun 17, 2024

Categories

Engineering

Summary

Join Assistant Professor Danielle Grimes in an immersive engineering exploration course at Cornell this summer. Delve into Newtonian physics, thermodynamics, and the engineering design process through hands-on projects tackling real-world problems. No prerequisites are needed; you'll learn how to think like an engineer while working on projects such as projectile motion and harnessing solar energy. Collaborate with peers, utilize CAD design software, and fabricate 3D models to engineer innovative solutions. Gain practical skills in problem-solving, teamwork, and quantitative reasoning. By the end, you'll leave with a solid grasp of physics and thermodynamics, valuable lab experience, and the ability to approach challenges with a creative engineering mindset. Don't miss this opportunity to explore engineering at Cornell, where learning happens One Course At A Time.

One Course Summer Institute - Chemistry in the Kitchen: Exploring Culinary Science

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Hosting Institution

Cornell College

Online/In Person

In Person

Location

Mount Vernon, IA

Cost

$3,200-$4,000

Application Deadline

Jun 17, 2024

Categories

Chemistry

Summary

Delve into the fascinating world of culinary chemistry in this hands-on class led by Professor Andrea Pionek. From synthesizing common leavening agents like alum to designing experiments to test their effectiveness in the kitchen, students will gain practical experience in both the laboratory and the kitchen. Using modern instrumentation such as an Inductively Coupled Plasma-Optical Emission Spectrometer (ICP-OES), participants will analyze chemical properties and compare the performance of chemical versus biological leavening agents. Safety measures, including the importance of wearing goggles, will be emphasized throughout. By the end of the course, students will have developed skills in lab procedures, data analysis, and critical thinking, along with a deeper understanding of the chemistry behind everyday cooking processes. Allergen warnings are in place for those working with wheat flour, eggs, and other common allergens, with options available for vegan or gluten-free recipes. No prerequisites required.

One Course Summer Institute - Solving Big Problems with Data Systems

See website

Hosting Institution

Cornell College

Online/In Person

In Person

Location

Mount Vernon, IA

Cost

$3,200-$4,000

Application Deadline

Jun 17, 2024

Categories

Data Science

Summary

The course "Solving Big Problems with Data Systems" explores how massive data systems like those of Google and Amazon handle enormous tasks. Led by Assistant Professor Ajit Chavan, it delves into distributed systems such as Apache Hadoop and Apache Spark, as well as multithreading. Participants will use Python to write programs tackling tasks like summing large integers or analyzing word occurrences in texts. They'll learn how simple tasks scale into complex challenges with big data, requiring distributed solutions. Through labs and discussions, students will grasp core computer science concepts, design patterns, and collaborative problem-solving. Key takeaways include coding skills, comprehension of distributed systems, and critical analysis with coding integration. Prerequisites include basic coding experience with if/then logic and mathematical functions.

One Course Summer Institute - Life Inspires Art: Writer’s Workshop

See website

Hosting Institution

Cornell College

Online/In Person

In Person

Location

Mount Vernon, IA

Cost

$3,200-$4,000

Application Deadline

Jun 17, 2024

Categories

Arts

Summary

The Writer’s Workshop led by Distinguished Visiting Writer Linda Oatman High offers a dynamic exploration of writing inspired by life experiences and various art forms. Through music, poetry, video clips, and texts, students unlock their creativity, producing original fiction, poetry, and essays. The supportive, small-group setting fosters empathy, technical skills, and cultural appreciation as students critique each other's work and present oral discussions. By the end, students gain a deeper understanding of literature, verbal presentation skills, cultural empathy, and critical analysis abilities, preparing them for high school and college writing endeavors. With no prerequisites, the course welcomes all who seek to unleash their imagination and express themselves through the written word.

One Course Summer Institute - Experimental Drawing: Making a Mark

See website

Hosting Institution

Cornell College

Online/In Person

In Person

Location

Mount Vernon, IA

Cost

$3,200-$4,000

Application Deadline

Jun 17, 2024

Categories

Arts

Summary

"Experimental Drawing: Making a Mark" challenges traditional notions of "good" drawing by emphasizing process and experimentation over representational accuracy. Through hands-on exploration of various media and techniques, students delve into the sensory and physical aspects of drawing. The course examines drawing's expanded definition, incorporating examples from artists like Cy Twombly and Joan Jonas. Projects encourage creativity, collaboration, and exploration of drawing beyond observational frameworks. Students gain appreciation for art, develop methods for creative expression, and increase self-confidence through experimentation and problem-solving. No prerequisites are required for this exploration of drawing as a dynamic and expressive form of communication.

One Course Summer Institute - Biodiversity and the Tree of Life

See website

Hosting Institution

Cornell College

Online/In Person

In Person

Location

Mount Vernon, IA

Cost

$3,200-$4,000

Application Deadline

Jun 17, 2024

Categories

Biology

Summary

"Biodiversity and the Tree of Life" offers a hands-on exploration of Iowa's ecosystems, from prairies to streams, to understand the interconnectedness of life forms. Through field trips, microscopy, and DNA barcoding, students learn to identify species and trace their evolutionary relationships. Labs focus on basic genetic analysis and classification methods, while the iNaturalist app facilitates collaboration with naturalists worldwide. By the end, students gain practical lab skills, knowledge of organism classification and evolution, and experience in DNA extraction and sequencing, with no prerequisites required.

One Course Summer Institute - 18 Days Later: Zombies, Brains, and Basic Neuroscience

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Hosting Institution

Cornell College

Online/In Person

In Person

Location

Mount Vernon, IA

Cost

$3,200-$4,000

Application Deadline

Jun 17, 2024

Categories

Neuroscience

Summary

"18 Days Later: Zombies, Brains, and Basic Neuroscience" is an interdisciplinary exploration of the human brain through the lens of zombie behavior in pop culture. Students dissect sheep brains to understand brain structure, observe learning patterns in flatworms, and analyze classic films like "Night of the Living Dead" to evaluate zombie behavior. Through critical analysis of Hollywood depictions, students gain an understanding of introductory neuroscience principles while honing their lab skills and incorporating cultural references. No prerequisites required.

Summer Writing Online

See website

Hosting Institution

The University of Iowa

Online/In Person

In Person

Location

Iowa City, IA

Cost

$295

Application Deadline

Apr 30, 2024

Categories

Literature and Languages

Summary

Summer Writing Online is a three-week immersive writing program offered by the University of Iowa's Belin-Blank Center for high school students in grades 9-11. It runs from July 8 to July 26, 2024, with synchronous online classes, workshops, and events led by faculty and graduates of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. The application process requires submission of an essay on writing inspiration and two writing samples, with rolling admissions. The program costs $295, with financial aid available. The curriculum emphasizes community building among young writers, fostering creativity, and literary exploration. Upon acceptance, participants can expect an enriching experience engaging with professional writers and peers from around the world.

Iowa First Nations Summer Program

See website

Hosting Institution

Division of Diversity Equity and Inclusion

Online/In Person

In Person

Location

Iowa City, Iowa

Cost

Free

Application Deadline

May 8, 2024

Categories

Social Science

Summary

The Iowa First Nations Summer Program (IFN) offers Native American high school students the opportunity to immerse themselves in campus life at the University of Iowa. Participants engage in seminars, field trips, and hands-on experiences while exploring various academic majors and deepening their understanding of Native American culture. The program aims to provide a supportive environment for Indigenous youth to learn about themselves, their community, and college life. Open to students entering grades 9 through 12, with heritage backgrounds affiliated with specific Native American tribes, the program covers lodging, meals, and activities. Additionally, admitted participants receive travel reimbursement of up to $300. Opportunities exist for individuals to contribute as workshop hosts, paid instructors, or resident assistants during the program. Through IFN, students gain valuable insights and experiences to help shape their academic and personal journeys.

RISE with WiSE

See website

Hosting Institution

Iowa State University of Science and Technology

Online/In Person

In Person

Location

Ames, IA

Cost

$300

Application Deadline

Apr 19, 2024

Categories

Engineering

Summary

RISE with WiSE offers a residential summer experience for rising 11th and 12th grade high school women interested in STEM careers. Participants engage in hands-on STEM sessions, explore Iowa State University's STEM majors, and experience campus life. The program includes 4-5 STEM sessions led by faculty, staff, and students, along with campus activities like visiting the ISU Creamery and Furman Aquatic Center. Preference is given to incoming seniors. Participants receive a comprehensive agenda, fostering personal growth and networking opportunities. Testimonials highlight the program's value in building connections and enthusiasm for STEM.

Are there many Research Opportunities for High School Students in Iowa?

Iowa offers research opportunities for high school students through esteemed universities like the University of Iowa and Iowa State University. These institutions provide research programs and mentorship across disciplines. Research centers and institutes in Iowa actively engage students in various fields, fostering hands-on experiences. The state's agricultural landscape creates unique research avenues in areas like crop science and sustainability. Iowa also hosts science fairs and competitions, offering platforms for students to showcase their research projects. High school students in Iowa have access to diverse research opportunities, gaining valuable experience and contributing to scientific advancements.

What research opportunities are available?

For a full set of research opportunity listings, see our guide to research opportunities for high school students.

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