California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science


Cluster 1 - Computers in Everyday Life

Ryan Kastner, Professor, Computer Science and Engineering, UCSD
Curt Schurgers, Project Development Engineer, Calit2, UCSD

Algebra II, Basic programming experience recommended, but not required.

These days computers are everywhere. They make our cars safer and more efficient through the use of over 100 processors that control everything from the brakes and engine to the stereo; they are used in robots to perform surgeries, which reduce pain and quickens the healing process; they allow us to explore our universe by controlling satellites, rovers and telescopes. There are billions of these "embedded computers" all around us that control devices, analyze signals and collect data as we go about our daily lives.

This course provides an introduction to computation through three interwoven threads.It starts by teaching the fundamentals of programming where students use a programming language called AppInventor to create mobile phone applications. It continues with developing the intelligence for the Scribbler robot to perform tasks like finding objects and avoiding obstacles. Next we delve "under the hood" and perform experiments using Arduino along with touch, temperature and motion sensors. The cluster concludes with a final project where students form small teams and create a project of their choosing.

Cluster 1 website
2014 Cluster 1 newsletters

Cluster 2 - Engineering Design and Control of Kinetic Sculptures

Nathan Delson, Academic Coordinator, Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering Department, UCSD
Raymond De Callafon, Professor, Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering Department, UCSD

Algebra I and 8th-grade general science or equivalent

Algebra II, Trigonometry, Physics

Mechanical Engineering and Computer Control are brought together in many modern products that have moving parts, ranging from an automobile to a hard drive in an iPod. In this cluster, students will analyze, design and build Kinetic Sculptures operated under computer control. Mechanical Engineering methods will be used to design kinetic sculptures using state of the art facilities at the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) department. The facilities include the MAE Design Studio, a LASERcamm Rapid Prototyping machine and advanced computer laboratories for creating computer drawings, running dynamic simulations and programming a Kinetic Sculpture microcontroller. The kinetic sculptures that will be built by the students include a clock mechanism manufactured by a laser cutting machine (LASERcamm) and a reconfigurable lightweight mechanical structure in which balls move along ramps, bounce on trampolines and fall in baskets. The students will learn how to use a modern micro-processor controller to measure and analyze timing and mechanical behavior of their sculptures, integrating engineering design and control principles throughout the curriculum of this cluster. Examples of prior year projects can be seen at:

2014 Cluster 2 Newsletter

Cluster 3 - Living Oceans and Global Climate Change

Robert Pomeroy, Lecturer, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, UCSD
Ngai Chin Lai, Associate Research Scientist, UCSD School of Medicine

Introductory high school chemistry and successfully completing the COSMOS Swimming Ability Certification form (for possible ocean activities; certification form not required until student is accepted into the cluster). The following swimming abilities are required:

  • 200 yards continuous swim, any stroke
  • 5 minutes of continuous treading of water

One component of this cluster will focus on the ocean's biology and the amazing diversity of marine habitats that extend from the poles to the tropics and from the beaches to the bottom of the deep blue sea. Topics will include the structure of the marine food web, characterization of major marine ecosystems, and the effects of climate change on seawater chemistry, ocean circulation, and marine life and diversity. The other component of this cluster will focus on the atmosphere-ocean system and how human activities are perturbing it. Topics will include the greenhouse effect, global warming due to increasing carbon dioxide produced by the burning of fossil fuels, impacts of pollution particles on the atmosphere, and how climate variability and climate change impact the atmosphere and the ocean. Our future on this planet will depend on an understanding of our influence on the atmosphere and on the ocean ecosystem.

2014 Cluster 3 Newsletter

Cluster 4 - When Disaster Strikes: Earthquake Engineering

Yael Van Den Einde, Lecturer, Structural Engineering, University of California at San Diego
Kevin Robinson, Lecturer, Geological Sciences, San Diego State University

Two years of Algebra (with Trigonometry component)

Ever wonder why earthquakes occur and whether our buildings are safe in an earthquake? Ever wonder if your hometown lies along the part of an active earthquake fault and how we can protect buildings and bridges against earthquake forces? And just what is the San Andreas Fault all about? In this cluster, students will learn the answers to these questions and more, exploring the basics of plate tectonics on our active planet with a close-up view of the San Andreas Fault system. Students will use state-of-the-art 3D computer earthquake models to help understand seismic activity and test their own theories of stress build-up on fault systems. Furthermore, students will be introduced to the basic physics and mathematics that explain how buildings and bridges react to earthquakes, and how we can protect these structures using modern technologies like dampers and base-isolation devices. Computer simulations and hands-on dynamic experimentation on models of structures will be primary activities. There will also be site visits to large-scale experimental research facilities at UCSD and real buildings constructed with new technologies.

2014 Cluster 4 Newsletter
2014 Cluster 4 Website

Cluster 5 - From Lasers to LCDs: Light at Work

Charles Tu, Distinguished Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Peter Ilinykh, Development Engineer, Electrical and Computer Engineering, UCSD

1 year of Physics preferred

We seldom realize how many cutting-edge technologies and successful companies are based on light, optics, and photonics (the combination of optics and electronics). This COSMOS cluster will highlight light-based technologies that we encounter in our daily lives: CD and DVD discs, fiberoptic communications, advanced displays, lasers for medical and industrial applications, and others. For each of these technological wonders, we will study the component parts, the underlying physics, the mathematical analysis that supports design, and the career opportunities they make possible. We will also examine new technologies from the developing field of nanophotonics.

2014 Cluster 5 Newsletter

Cluster 6 - Biodiesel from Renewable Sources

Robert S. Pomeroy, Lecturer, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, UCSD
Kim Albizati, Lecturer, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, UCSD

Introductory high school chemistry – Basic knowledge of ionic and covalent bonding, electronegativity and intermolecular forces of attraction.

This course will introduce students to renewable biofuels. This is a laboratory intensive experience where the students will extract and purify oil (lipids) from biomass, convert the oil into Fatty Acid Methyl Esters, FAMEs, also known as biodiesel, wash and purify the biodiesel, and then analyze the quality of the finished product.

Sustainable energy engages scientists, entrepreneurs and consumers searching for a renewable form of energy that will also not place the Earth's ecosystem at greater risk. Biofuels can be generated from biomass. This biomass can range from terrestrial, agricultural, forestry and municipal wastes, energy crops like soybeans, rapeseed, switchgrass and algae. Biodiesel has gained attention in recent years as a renewable fuel source due to its reduced greenhouse gas and particulate emissions, and it can be produced within 10 states in the US.

2014 Cluster 6 Newsletter
Cluster 6 website

Cluster 7 - Bioengineering/Mechanical Engineering: The Amazing Red Blood Cell

Mauricio de Oliveira, Adjunct Associate Professor, Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering Department, UCSD
Robert Skelton, Professor Emeritus, Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering Department, UCSD
Carlos Vera, Lecturer, Bioengineering, UCSD

One year of high school biology.

Engineering plays an increasingly important role in medicine in projects that range from basic research in physiology to advances in biotechnology and the improvement of health care. Bioengineering, one of the youngest engineering disciplines, employs the principles and tools of traditional engineering fields, such as mechanical, structural, material, electrical, and chemical engineering to solve biomedical problems. This course shows how to produce useful engineering structures which are motivated by biological systems, such as the red blood cell.

Just about everyone knows that we can't live without blood. Without blood, our organs couldn't get the oxygen and nutrients they need to survive, we couldn't keep warm or cool off, we couldn't fight infections, and we couldn't get rid of our own waste products. How exactly does blood do these things? Blood cells facilitate the blood functions. Red Blood Cells are the most numerous cells in the blood and are responsible for the transport of oxygen and carbon dioxide. Studying the membrane structure is important in order to understand how Red Blood Cells do their jobs. Students will learn the theory behind molecular and cell biology techniques and will use these techniques to answer basic questions in Red Blood Cell biology. Students will also explore the deformability of Red Blood Cells and its relationship with health and disease.

In the first part of this cluster, we will explore how bioengineering can be used to study the structure and function of the Red Blood Cells and their membranes. In the second part of this cluster, we will explore how mechanical engineering can help us model the red blood cell membrane structure. Motivated by the mechanical structure of the membrane materials of the red blood cell, we will show how to construct engineering models from sticks and strings (we call such structures tensegrity structures). Building several models of tensegrity structures will give some understanding how one might build efficient, and even deformable, engineering structures, which are motivated by biological systems.

Lectures will be complemented with interactive labs in which each team of students must solve a challenge proposed by the instructor.

2014 Cluster 7 Newsletter

Cluster 8 - Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine

Robert Sah, Professor, Bioengineering, UCSD
TBD, Staff Research Associate, Bioengineering, UCSD

Students must have completed Algebra II and one year of high school biology.

Tissue engineering is the application of engineering and life sciences to develop biological substitutes that restore, maintain, or improve tissue function. Engineered tissues provide alternative treatments for medical conditions where there are limitations associated with traditional approaches such as pharmaceuticals, medical devices, or transplants. Current products include engineered skin used to treat wounds and burns and re-implantation of a patient's own cells to repair damaged knees. Tissue engineering is an exciting and interdisciplinary field involving engineers, biologists, chemists, material scientists, and doctors. This COSMOS cluster will introduce students to the foundations of tissue engineering through hands-on lab exercising using modern tissue engineering tools and techniques. Participants will also go on a field trip to a local tissue engineering or biotechnology company.

2014 Cluster 8 Newsletter

Cluster 9 - Music and Technology

Mauricio de Oliveira, Adjunct Associate Professor, Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering Department, UCSD
Shlomo Dubnov, Professor, Computer Music, UCSD

Basic computer programming experience recommended, but not required.

You do not have to be a musician to have fun and learn how science and engineering can be used to transform sounds and to perform and even compose music. With Cluster 9 you will learn about sound, music and technology as we explore the many ways in which technology is used to synthesize and analyze sounds and create music. Please keep in mind that Cluster 9 is first and foremost a science camp, not a music camp. As in any other COSMOS cluster, our primary goal is to have you explore and learn about science, engineering and technology. But unlike any other COSMOS cluster, you will do it while learning about sound and music. In Cluster 9 you will learn and experiment with basic physical principles that are used to make musical instruments, how they affect the perception of sound and what makes music beautiful. You will build simple electronic circuits that can transform audio signals, such as amplifiers, filters and effect generators and will learn how to program computers to analyze, modify, create music and even improvise. During the program student's team up in small groups to develop a technical and/or creative project to be presented at the end of the program.

2014 Cluster 9 Newsletter