The Princeton University Materials Academy Summer Program for high school specifically targets students from under-served communities and young women. Students spend three weeks learning about materials science innovations from leading scientists in an intensive course each summer. The course framework consists of inquiry-based, hands-on labs and project-based learning, supported by lectures and interaction with PCCM faculty and graduate students. The students work with the faculty on current research projects; therefore the curriculum is different every year based on the changing research interest of our faculty. PUMA is the only program on campus that is strictly science oriented. This intensive program targets truly underprivileged, disadvantaged high school students – especially those who have a good chance of success with the right encouragement – to give them a full immersion in science. During the summer 2017 session, sixteen high school students from Trenton interacted with Princeton faculty and students and learned about materials science and solar energy research. Among other projects, the students worked on ceramic water filters that could improve the quality of life and environmental conditions in parts of Africa.
In past editions, there have been two divisions of PUMA, one program geared toward local area high school students, and another geared toward middle schoolers. In the PUMA program for middle schoolers, twelve to fifteen students participate in seminars that focus on materials science and energy sustainability. Curriculum for the program was developed from the science and engineering research of PCCM faculty. The week-long program was dedicated to narrowing the academic achievement gap across racial and ethnic groups, and they were supported by the National Science Foundation through Princeton's Center for Complex Materials and the University's Community House service organization.
Prof. Dan Steingart discusses Safety of Lithium batteries, a subject he discussed at length with PUMA students in 2016.