From January 17-20, 2020, we successfully conducted a four-day, residential Advanced STEM Winter Program for participating and prospective AP® students at Millsaps College and Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi. The Jackson Winter Program had a dual purpose thematically linked to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend—to provide substantive instruction in Physics and Computer Science, and to affirm the nexus between Civil Rights and educational opportunity. The Program included sessions at Millsaps, Jackson State, and the Museums of Mississippi History and Civil Rights, where we held a dinner program featuring talks by Dr. Daphne Chamberlain, a Civil Rights historian and scholar-activist at Tougaloo College, and Scarlet Seward, an executive at C-Spire.
The Jackson Winter Program was our seventh, university-based, residential program, and our largest to date, with over 120 participants—including students and faculty from 12 high schools; 9 tutors from the University of Virginia, and 5 from Yale and MIT; and speakers from four colleges and universities (including a Harvard freshman from Mississippi and a program alumnus from Marks now majoring in Bioengineering at Jackson State).
The Jackson Winter Program featured multiple elements:
Immersive instruction in Physics and Computer Science:
- Students were divided into classrooms based on the course they are enrolled in, either AP® Physics 1 or AP® Computer Science Principles; prospective students who are planning to enroll in our AP® program next year were also grouped together
- Core classroom sessions were led by 4 highly experienced teachers from around the state
- College-student tutors—14 in total—from the University of Virginia, Yale, and MIT worked through problems with the students in small groups and individually throughout the weekend
- Lessons were reinforced through hands-on experiments (both indoors and outdoors!) including egg-drop and egg-toss challenges, as well as a roller-coaster engineering design contest
Tours and Featured Speakers:
- The Winter Program enables students to experience life on a college campus and interact with leading members in the community and prominent speakers.
- Students met with Mike Espy, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, and his son, who both spoke about the importance of education and the many opportunities it provides
- Students were led on a guided tour of Jackson State University and learned about the history of the Margaret Walker Center
- Students toured Millsaps College and had the opportunity to socialize and eat together during meals in the dining hall
- Students had a guided tour of the Museums of Mississippi History and Civil Rights, where we also hosted a dinner and recognition program; Dr. Daphne Chamberlain, a Civil Rights historian and scholar-activist at Tougaloo College, and Scarlet Seward, an executive at C-Spire, spoke to students about the importance of education and the ongoing push for civil rights
We are thankful to all of the educators, staff, supporters and partners that we work with for helping to make the Jackson Winter Program a success. Most of all, we are thankful to our students for their hard work, enthusiasm, and willingness to persevere.