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STEM Programs

STEM Programs → Summer STEM Opportunities


STEM and Science Service Learning Programs



  • Art of Printing – 2015-2016 – Students spent their fall learning about many different printing techniques from low tech to high tech. Participants of the Expanding Horizons after-school program at the Bowditch Middle School tried Suminagashi printing, screen printing and 3D printing.  This was a blended STEM and Arts curriculum.

  • CSI Forensics Unit – 2016 – Starting in January 2016, 25 participants of the Expanding Horizons after-school program spent ten weeks learning about crime scene investigation and forensic science to then solve a crime, “The Mystery of the Stolen Bearded Dragon,” using the skills learned.

  • Food Science Unit – 2016 – Students conducted a series of food science experiments to explore topics like food chemistry (how ingredients react with each other in a recipe), food safety (how important it is to be clean when working with food), and nutrition (how fat molecules get stored and used in our body).

  • JV InvenTeams, Sound Engineering – 2016 – Students learned how sound travels, how speakers function, and how to use electronics to create music. Students closed out the session by building their own giant speaker based on what they learned. This curriculum was developed by the Lemelson-MIT Program and adapted for our students by LEAP staff.

  • JV InvenTeams, Shoe Soles – 2016-2017 – This science class includes solving problems, creating, doing hands-on and minds-on activities, using tools, and ‘working as a TEAM’. Students will design a shoe sole specific to their interests, and make community connections by visiting the Peabody Essex Museum’s new shoe exhibit.

  • Future City – 2011-2017 – For the 6th year, LEAP middle school students will compete in the Future City Competition. The theme is ‘The Power of Public Space’. The challenge is to design an innovative system of public spaces that redevelops and makes use of abandoned and polluted lots and roadways. Students are designing and building a future city and will compete at the end of January 2017 at Northeastern University.

ZERO ROBOTICS – Summers of 2010-2017

Zero Robotics is a computer programming and engineering program for middle school students sponsored by MIT, NASA and the Massachusetts Afterschool Project. This is LEAP’s 5th year participating in the program. The goal is to program a miniature satellite to compete against other teams’ satellites in zero gravity. The preliminary rounds are simulated, but the final competition is broadcast from the International Space Station. This year, we had our biggest team yet at 20 students. This summer’s field trips included visits to MIT in Cambridge, iRobot in Bedford, and Harmonic Drive in Peabody. In 2016, our team won first place in the Regional Competition and came in 5th place out of 12 in the ISS Final National Competition! In 2017, Gloucester fielded its first ZR team and came in 5th in Massachusetts.

GIRLS WHO CODE – 2016-2017

LEAP for Education was approved by the national organization Girls Who Code to start its own club here in Salem. The Club started meeting at LEAP in January of 2016. The Club is currently led by Yugo Nakai, co-founder and Chief Information Architect at Investiture Technologies, with the help of Megan Hurst and Kayla Dorst. The girls are learning how to code, build websites, write phone apps, design games and more. Girls participated in DigiGirlz Day at Microsoft and recently took a field trip to the MIT Museum.

A new middle school Girls Who Code club runs at Expanding Horizons through the 2016-2017 school year at the Nathaniel Bowditch School.

Girls Who Code is a national nonprofit organization working to close the gender gap in the technology and engineering sectors. With support from public and private partners, Girls Who Code works to educate, inspire, and equip high school girls with the skills and resources to pursue opportunities in computing fields.


In 2017 – Robotics: Beat the Challenge – The students learn ways to create robots for specific purposes and to perform certain functions.  The students work in teams or by themselves.  Each week they work on their robots (building, programming and performing challenges).

In 2017 – Coding (Beginner/Advanced sections) – Students use MIT Scratch programming to create computer generated programming for a variety of uses. Students are encouraged to use key computational thinking concepts and key computational skills.These include creating interactive games, videos, and interactive stories.

Summer, 2017 – Science Grad – students explore careers in science and engineering.  Through hands on activities, including work at the Gloucester Biotechnology Academy, visits to colleges, and speakers from STEM fields, students investigate what it takes to be a scientist and engineer.


The purpose of service learning is to partner the schools and community organizations in leading students to solve a real community problem.  Through academically rigorous content, student ownership and strong community partnerships students learn about their communities and collaborate on projects that address an identified problem.

TALKING TRASH – 2015-2017

Ten of our high school juniors and seniors from LEAP joined Salem Sound Coastwatch staffers for 6 months in studying the impact of human-produced trash on ocean pollution. Cleverly named “Talking Trash”, our students engaged in research and projects to support SSCW’s activities as part of a NOAA Marine Debris Prevention through Education and Outreach grant. One group of students, as an example, recruited artists to paint the trash barrels at Salem Willows to raise awareness about trash pollution and raise the visibility of the trash barrels along the beach and park areas. Another team worked with the City to increase the visibility of the cigarette bins. Two students were chosen to work as paid summer interns at SSCW.  The following year, another 10 high school youth worked on “Talking Trash”.

HEALTHY HARBORS – Summers of 2015, 2016, 2017

Healthy Harbors is the name of the summer program run under the 21st Century Community Learning Center grant and the After-School, Out of School Time grants awarded by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

In 2016, the Healthy Harbors middle school program (run at Salem High School) had 80 young people tackle the issue of ocean pollution that is threatening marine biodiversity and ecosystems. Students did several field trips around Salem Sound on water and land to study the issues.  Students engaged in several projects of their own initiative including working on a plastic ban ordinance, painting trash cans along the beaches to make them more visible, and writing brochures and websites.  For more information read the weekly parent newsletters sent out. Click here

In 2015, the Healthy Harbors middle school program at Salem High School had 89 young people working in teams to tackle the issues that impact our local marine ecosystem. Over the course of 6 weeks, students investigated a topic and partnered with local marine science experts to discuss habitat loss, invasive species, boating, nitrogen, and storm water. This was a service learning project funded by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ After School Out of School time grant and the 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant. Both grants are run by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Healthy Harbors runs as part of the Expanding Horizons program through the 2016-2017 school year at the Nathaniel Bowditch Middle School.