Submitted by Hilary Eppley / DePauw University on Mon, 07/07/2008 - 17:13

OK, not really sure that this question fits well here (it is a little off the wall), but I have just started in a position as the director of our science research honors program, so I am looking for interesting ideas about co-curricular activities or social events to hold in conjunction with our 10-week summer research program.  

As an example, we are actually doing a new social event this week (made possible because of some left-over liquid N2 donated by physics).  We are doing a "Seventh Inning Stretch", a 2 pm baseball themed liquid N2 ice cream party with baseball music and movies playing in the background.   We also have an upcoming speaker on Science Research Ethics, a resume workshop, and a poster preparation seminar.  Anyone else doing anything interesting or creative with your summer students?   

Joanne Stewart / Hope College

We go to the beach for volleyball and a picnic once a week. Oh wait, you're in southern Indiana.

Actually, our students plan many of our social activities. We actually have an official "social coordinator" each summer. They organize the food for the weekly picnic at the beach. Other summer activities have included trips to amusement parks, minor league baseball games, canoeing, and full-campus capture the flag games. On a more low-key scale, we've had movie nights in the science center and video scavenger hunts.

Some of our activities have grown to be all science or even all research student activities. For example, we have a weekly ice cream social that started out in chemistry but now includes everyone. Our lab manager and his student workers provide the ice cream (not sure who pays for it) and then different groups are responsible for bringing other goodies. The students love the opportunity to bake.

Finally, we have a big, formal research symposium at the end of the summer with talks, posters, and lunch. The best part about this is that the students finish a poster by the end of the summer that they can use for subsequent professional meetings during the year.

Joanne Stewart

Tue, 07/08/2008 - 09:36 Permalink
Adam Johnson / Harvey Mudd College

we don't do all of these every summer... but... here goes.

  1.  tie-die shirts with "HMC Chemistry" screen printed
  2. dessert bake-off
  3. chili cook-off
  4. Disneyland or Baseball game
  5. "How to give a talk" workshop
  6. professional Ethics workshop
  7. plant trips to local industry
  8. BBQ/pot-luck
Tue, 07/08/2008 - 14:12 Permalink
Nancy Williams / Scripps College, Pitzer College, Claremont McKenna College
We do a bunch of stuff-occasional hike or minor league baseball game, trip to a local pizza place. Probably the most unusual thing we do is a weekly brownbag lunch where two students talk about their research for about 15 min each....sorta like a mini-group meeting, but on a very small (and hence relaxed) scale.
Wed, 07/09/2008 - 14:13 Permalink
Brandy Russell / Gustavus Adolphus College
Apologies for the format-- I can't seem to get carriage returns to work... 1. We, too, have weekly brown-bag lunch meetings where 2-4 students talk about their research. We invite all in the science division. Students usually speak 2x per summer, once to talk about their plans, and one update mid to late summer. 2. We used to have a symposium for them all in August, but found that a) we were excluding some biology students doing field work and b) that a lot of our students doing off-campus programs were really eager to present their work back on their home campus. So we moved it to the first Friday of the fall semester. 3. We have a weekly social gathering for which students take turns picking up the snacks. The Provost picks up the tab. Most of the science researchers participate, but we are trying to expand that to the whole campus. 4. We usually have some just for fun events like trips to an amusement park, canoeing, camping, etc. Some faculty will occasionally host game nights or cookouts. 5. Sometimes we have fun educational trips to visit local companies or museums. 6. Probably our most unique activity is our Journal Club, which is actually a year-round activity. It's a fully voluntary meeting of students and faculty in the sciences, and it's a lot of fun. 7. We are also working on some topical group activities... both narrow (the students working on synthesis meet every morning to troubleshoot and to discuss technique) and interdisciplinary (a number of students in chemistry and biology working on projects related to toxins and pharmaceuticals).
Fri, 07/11/2008 - 10:12 Permalink
Barbara Reisner / James Madison University

I've read through the comments from other users and see things very similar to what we do in our summer program.  We don't do all of these events every summer nor is this list all inclusive. 

On the professional side, the big events are:

  1. A two-slide presentation about your summer research plans.  (This is done the beginning of the second week.)
  2. Several seminars.  We try to get  speakers from a variety of settings (academe, industry, and government - sometimes with unusual career trajectories) so that students not only learn science but have a chance to talk about other environments.
  3. End of summer symposium.  Students are given the choice between doing a poster and or a talk (although the advisor has final say).
  4. Field trips to local industry.  (Local is defined as less than 4 hours.)
  5. Weekly group meetings (both research group and multi-research group).  For example, every Tuesday my organic colleagues and their seemingly infinite number of students host "carbon for lunch" where they look at problems beyond sophomoe level organic.
  6. Library and safety orientation.

On the social side, activities have included:

  1. Canoe trip.  This is one of the highlights - we spend a day on the Shenandoah river and have a big BBQ afterwards.
  2. Movie nights.  These range from organized dorm movies to going to the big summer blockbusters en masse.
  3. Dinner / party at professors' houses.
  4. Soccer on the quad.  We did this a few years ago - every Wednesday at 6 PM.
  5. Fe-man and Fe-woman tournament.  We took this idea from Furman University.  In our incarnation, we invite all students, staff, and faculty to participate in 8 events (some team, some individual).  Points are awarded to the best performer.  Last year's competitions included a dessert bake-off, mini golf, bowling, relays, ping pong tournament, tennis tournament, dodgeball tournament, volleyball tournament, southern style cook-off.  At the end of summer syposium, overall winners and runners up in both the men's and women's divisions were given awards (Fe pins from the ACS store and cheesy certificates).  These activities are particularly good at the beginning of the summer and on the weekends to build community.
  6. Ice cream socials with other research students on campus (courtesy of the Dean).
  7. Outreach activities.  Our students have done chemistry activities with scouting organizations over the summer.
What we've learned is that you need someone (one or more people) committed to organize the social activities.  There is only so much that the program directors can handle on their own. 
Tue, 07/15/2008 - 00:32 Permalink
Chip Nataro / Lafayette College
I have had our kids do video scavenger hunts the past two summers.  They are in teams of 3 or 4 so it gives them a chance to get to know people outside of the group they are working in.  It also gives me the chance to be evil.  When else are you going to get kids to willing do the Hokey Pokey in the town square or pretend to do an episode of Iron Chef in a pet store.  I do throw some chemistry related ones on there too.  The best part, it is all filmed and available for future blackmail, muhahahaha.  In all seriousness, our kids have loved it and really liked getting to know each other this way.
Tue, 07/15/2008 - 16:59 Permalink