Gas station without pumps

2010 November 15

Summer research program for top high-school juniors

The Research Science Institute offers a program each summer for 80 high-school juniors to do an intensive six-week research project in science, math, or engineering.  Unlike science fairs, these are not student-directed projects, but “Academic, corporate, and government-sponsored research teams invite RSI students to join in their ongoing projects, providing students an opportunity to make an original contribution in their fields.” [] Many of the students turn their RSI projects into science-fair projects, though, and some get co-author credit on refereed journal articles (the fundamental currency of science recognition).

The amazing thing is that this program is free: “Students invited to the program receive free tuition, room, and board. Their only expense is transportation from their homes to MIT.”

The information about applying says that the deadline for applications is January 15, 2010, and that only high school juniors may apply (so I guess I have to remember to look again in 2 years to see if the program still exists for my son to participate in).

They say, “It is recommended that PSAT math scores be at least 75, and combined math, verbal, and writing PSAT scores be at least 220. ACT math scores should be at least 33 and verbal scores at least 34.”  This looks to me like they are looking for the top 1% of students, but allowing some slop for testing error.  Obviously, with only 80 slots, test scores alone are not going to be enough to get into the program. (Hey, just like getting into a top college!)  I suspect that students accepted into the program already have a strong track record of accomplishment in science.

I think that programs like this one do a lot to encourage top students to continue in science and engineering—the interaction with other science-obsessed students, the chance to do real research and get published, and the funding that allows them to do this without bankrupting their parents are all very valuable.  Like the NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program, actually involving students in research is the best way to convince them to pursue research careers.


  1. Rudbeckia Hirta from has been posting about running the RSI in the summers. I don’t think she’s doing it this year. It is extremely selective.

    Comment by plam — 2010 November 15 @ 05:11 | Reply

    • Is Hirta not doing RSI in 2011, or is RSI not happening in 2011? These are quite different interpretations of your comment.
      I hope you just meant that one person would not be involved this year, rather than that the program itself will disappear.

      I am certain that the program is quite selective (there isn’t enough room for even the top 3 students from each state science fair), but the need is for more such programs, not for eliminating the program!

      I just searched and couldn’t find anything about RSI or Research Science Institute more recent than December 2007. Could you give me a more specific pointer?

      Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2010 November 15 @ 08:34 | Reply

  2. RSI continues as it has since 1984. It is extremely competitive and well worth attending for those who qualify.

    Comment by MLB — 2010 November 15 @ 12:28 | Reply

  3. […] posted before on summer programs: Summer Programs: Listed by Topics of Interest, Summer research program for top high-school juniors, Summer Theater Camps, COSMOS talk on assembling genomes, Awesome Math Camp, Do talent searches […]

    Pingback by Summer Programs for Gifted Kids « Gas station without pumps — 2011 February 25 @ 08:05 | Reply

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