Summer Science Academy

Overview & Camp Descriptions

Space still available for Sessions 1, 2 and 3!
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Also watch the 2013 Sumo-bots video

The Summer Science Academy at McDaniel College, a camp for science-oriented high school students.

All campers will receive a $40,000 scholarship guaranteed to McDaniel! Details here.

2015 Camp Descriptions

Forensic Science

If you want to find out what it’s really like to be a forensic scientist, then this class is for you. Instead of talking about it or watching it in some dramatized show on TV, you will participate in realistic forensic investigations using actual techniques in use today. Some of the topics we will cover during this week-long class include eye-witness testimony, drug analysis, blood and DNA analysis, hair analysis, and ballistics. We will also visit a real forensic science laboratory to meet and talk with practicing forensic scientists. Completion of one year of high school biology/health science or chemistry is recommended, but not required.

The Final Frontier - Space and Rocketry

Who hasn’t gazed up at the stars and wondered? This course is for students that are really interested in participating in engaging activities and stimulating discussion focused on the marvels of the cosmos and possibilities for the future. Topics will include the big bang and early universe, telescopes and observational astronomy, black holes, extraterrestrial biology, stars and planets, and space voyage. To get ourselves a bit closer to space, we’ll also try our hand at some model rocketry. Finally we will take advantage of McDaniel’s locality to meet with scientists and mission specialists currently involved in space travel and research.


In this hands-on course, students will learn programming and construction techniques so they can build their own mobile and interactive robot with provided materials and computer interfaces. Other topics to be covered during the week will include artificial intelligence, swarm behavior, and computer visual recognition. Also, we will visit an engineering firm to meet and talk with professionals that design, build, and test robots for a living. The five-day course will culminate in student’s robots competing in a no-holds-barred sumo-bot contest. Some basic experience in a computer programming language is recommended, but not required.

“Real World” Physical Science

Are you interested in science but frustrated by your limited experience in high school science classes? Do you want to experience what real scientists do in the laboratory? If yes, come and join us during this week- long science camp for “real scientists”. Throughout the week we will cover topics such as spectroscopy, including UV-Vis, IR, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, and laser spectroscopy, chromatograph, mass spectrometry, and more. You will apply these techniques to an array of interesting real- world problems from biomedical application to environmental problem solving and get hand-on experience using state-of-the-art laboratory equipment. Completion of one year of high school physics or chemistry is recommended, but not required.

Engineering Lab: The Science of Building Things

You love building things and enjoy pushing your constructions to the limits (and beyond). Well, so do we! In this course you will learn about some basic physical concepts--stress and strain, force and torque, and equilibrium--and how they apply to various design approaches and assembly techniques. We will then put your skills as an engineer to the test by putting your construction projects in serious competitions with the other students in the class.

The Science of Water with an Introduction to SCUBA Diving (NEW)

Water is one of the simplest molecules on Earth, yet it is also one of the most interesting and, of course, vital substance on the planet. In this course, you will learn about the fascinating physical and chemical properties of water, as well as its crucial role in biological processes. There are so many interesting and diverse topics to discuss about water, it's hard to list them. Some topics we will look into include fluid statics and dynamics, the interactions between light and water, waves, the world ocean, and water chemistry. And as an added, exciting activity, you will also get a genuine introduction to SCUBA with a PADI-certified SCUBA instructor in our pool. While diving, you will be able to participate in some unique, hands-on, aquatic experiments!


Brief history of the Summer Science Academy at McDaniel College
In 2005, Drs. Wladkowski and Marx founded a summer camp at McDaniel College for science-oriented high school students. Initially, the topic was Forensic Science. Over the years enrollment in the camp grew and now the camp has evolved into its current form, the Summer Science Academy at McDaniel College, in which several different science courses are offered, spread out over multiple weeks.

A fingerprint.

Registration & Details

Registration is now open

Camp features

The camp lasts five full days. Each day starts at 9 am and ends about 4:30 pm. Students participate in discussions, laboratories and field trips. The camp involves college-level material.

There will be evening activities scheduled for the resident campers. These include speakers, movies, games, and swimming at McDaniel’s indoor pool. Commuter students are more than welcome to attend any evening activity. Camp counselors and faculty will be present at all evening events, and resident students are fully supervised overnight in the dormitories.


All students in 9th - 12th grade are welcome.

Students are eligible for the scholarship after successfully completing at least one week at the Summer Science Academy (SSA). Students who have already been accepted to McDaniel College as an undergraduate are welcome to attend the SSA, but are not eligible for the scholarship. See more details about the scholarship.

Types of Enrollment

Resident Camper $900
Resident Camper fees cover instruction, laboratory supplies, lodging (5 nights) and meals. A camp assistant will be on hand to help participants adjust to a college setting and living on campus.

Commuter Camper $575
Commuter Camper fees cover instruction, laboratory supplies, and lunch (5 days).


Students will be accepted on a first-come-first-served basis. Enrollment is limited and can only be secured by completing a registration form with appropriate fee as soon as possible. Early registration is encouraged, however, the deadline for registration is May 15th, 2015.

An enrollment letter containing detailed information will be sent in late-May.

Cancellation Policy

A $50 charge will be assessed to all cancellations. All cancellations must be verified at least 2 weeks before camp begins to receive the refund. There will be no refunds after this 2-week period.

A space shuttle taking off.

Scholarship & Benefits

Benefits of Attending the Summer Science Academy

  • Successful completion of just one week of our Summer Science Academy in any class will guarantee you a $40,000 scholarship to McDaniel College!
  • You will have an awesome experience learning about topics in science by working on interesting projects with sophisticated instrumentation and techniques and hearing directly from scientists and professionals in the field.
  • You will gain a strong and realistic perspective about what a college-level science experience is like and what college life is really about.
  • For each summer science camp in which you enroll, you will earn one-half credit hour from McDaniel College, a well-recognized, accredited institute of higher education, that you can use if you enroll in McDaniel as an undergraduate, or transfer as an equivalent course to whatever college you finally decide to attend.

Scholarship to McDaniel

Students are eligible for the Summer Science Academy (SSA) scholarship only if they have successfully completed at least one session of the SSA prior to being admitted to McDaniel College. Those students who do successfully complete at least one session of the SSA by staying engaged in the material, laboratories, and discussion through the week-long program and exhibit a positive attitude both in and out of the classroom will receive a guaranteed $40,000 scholarship to attend McDaniel College as an undergraduate. Receipt of scholarship is contingent on the student subsequently applying and being admitted to McDaniel.

The scholarship will be divided equally over the traditional four-year educational period and represents the minimum scholarship a student can receive. SSA students who apply to McDaniel College will also be eligible for additional scholarships and financial support based on their academic credentials. Although the SSA scholarship is non-transferable to other institutions it is a valuable accolade for any students pursuing a college career or science-related internship, research, or job.

This new scholarship initiative supported by the McDaniel College administration demonstrates the importance of attracting well-qualified, science-oriented students like you to McDaniel.


Dr. Brian WladkowskiDr. Brian Wladkowski

Associate Professor of Chemistry
Ph.D - Chemistry - Stanford University

Dr. Brian Wladkowski has been teaching chemistry at McDaniel College since 1995, and has taught nearly every course offered by the Chemistry Department from introductory courses to advanced physical chemistry courses. Dr. Wladkowski also developed the popular Forensic Science program at McDaniel nearly ten years ago and teaches the introductory course in that program.

Outside of chemistry Dr. Wladkowski also teaches a fishing class in the Florida Keys and takes students scuba diving around the world as part of a course offered during January Term. Dr. Wladkowski has had many areas of research interest over the years including computational modeling of enzyme active site and the study of various types of spectroscopy in chemical applications. Most recently, he and his undergraduate research students have been interested in alternative energy research, specifically Bio-diesel processing. The long-term goal of this most recent project is to develop a processor that will convert used cooking oil produced by McDaniel’s cafeteria into usable fuel for campus vehicles.

Dr. Jeffrey MarxDr. Jeffrey Marx

Professor of Physics; Chairman, Department of Physics
Ph.D - Physics - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Dr. Marx has been a physics professor at McDaniel College since 2000 and enjoys teaching classes at all levels, from general science courses, such as Astronomy and The Nature of Science, up through senior-level Quantum Mechanics. Outside of the Physics Department, Dr. Marx also teaches backpacking, juggling, and a tropical marine biology trip in the Bahamas. In 2004, Dr. Marx was awarded the Ira G. Zepp Distinguished Teaching Award, which is the highest honor McDaniel College bestows on its faculty.

Dr. Marx’s research centers on two areas: pedagogy and theoretical modeling. His pedagogy research focuses on improving how students learn physics, and he is the author of many peer-reviewed publications on developing students’ problem-solving abilities, shifting their attitudes about science, and understanding students’ fundamental misconceptions about physical concepts. He is currently co-authoring a calculus-based physics textbook for introductory undergraduate physics to be published by Wiley. On his other research front, Dr. Marx works closely with undergraduate science students developing comprehensive theoretical models of intriguing physical systems. Some recent examples include determining the optimal grip on a lacrosse stick for an overhand throw, detailing the interaction and paths of two orbit-swapping moons circling Saturn, and characterizing and constructing a wireless power transmission system.