*Editors: Interviews with past participants in most areas of the state can be arranged upon request.
Students who love math and science and do well in them have a chance to spend four weeks at a University of California campus this summer learning about astronomy, marine mammal biology, robotics and more.
The California State Summer School for Mathematics & Science (COSMOS) is a residential program for talented and motivated students who are completing grades 8-12.
Students run laboratory experiments, conduct field work and attend lectures given by UC faculty and master high school teachers. Class sizes are small, between 18-20 students, offering each participant a rich intellectual experience.
"COSMOS aims to build a community of young scholars who will become the nation's future leaders in mathematics and science, with interests in both research and applied fields," said Robert Polkinghorn, the UC assistant vice president who oversees the program. "Many of our kids develop lasting relationships with other students excelling in science and math and with UC faculty and high school teachers."
On a typical day, COSMOS students attend lectures, take courses or participate in labs or course-related field trips. Recreation and study groups are built into the evening and weekend schedules. Special activities and supervised field trips are planned for the weekends.
"What I loved about COSMOS was its friendly atmosphere, everyone there was interested in either math or science and sometimes both so you always found a topic in common," said Susan Villatoro of Carson (Los Angeles County), who participated as an entering 12th grader last year. "COSMOS actually helped me feel confident. It helped me realize that you could do something you like for a career... I am thinking of entering the mechanical engineering field."
COSMOS programs are offered at UC Davis, UC Irvine and UC Santa Cruz.
At UC Irvine, excursions may include the Palomar Observatory, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Catalina Island, San Joaquin Freshwater Marsh and Laguna Tidepools. At UC Santa Cruz, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, kayaking in Elkhorn Slough, Joseph M. Long Marine Laboratory, and the Lick Observatory enrich course content. At UC Davis, students may visit Genentech Inc., the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Aerojet, and McClellan Air Force Base.
Selection is competitive. Students who demonstrate exceptional academic achievement in science and mathematics and are completing the 8th through 12th grades from all California public and private schools are eligible to apply. Admission is based upon standardized test scores, grade point average, achievement in science projects and/or competitions, teacher recommendations, motivation, and community service.
Almost 1,500 students have attended COSMOS since its inception in 2000, coming from more than 45 of California's 58 counties. They comprise a culturally and ethnically diverse group, with girls accounting for about half of the participants.
Tuition is $1,212 for California residents, which covers room and meals in university residence halls, transportation costs and other expenses for most field trips. More than a third of California residents usually receive full or partial financial aid to attend. Non-California residents pay the full tuition cost of $6,200.
The application and financial aid forms are available online at http://www.ucop.edu/cosmos. Students are invited to apply to one of the three campus programs by the March 15 deadline.
This year's program schedule is as follows: UC Santa Cruz, June 27--July 24; UC Davis and UC Irvine, July 1--Aug. 7. About 150 students will participate at each campus, for a total of about 450.
Strong interest in the program from the corporate community, private donors and foundations in California and beyond, allows COSMOS to provide financial aid for needy students, fellowships for 24 participating master high school teachers each summer, and a range of program enhancements such as laptop computers in labs and guest lectures by nationally renowned science researchers and Nobel Prize winners.
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