The Compass Summer Program is an intensive educational experience, offered at no cost to participants, that takes place right before the start of the fall semester. During the program, 16 to 20 incoming freshmen come together to learn about topics not usually covered in the introductory physics or math curriculum, with an emphasis on model building, experimentation, and problem solving. Together with a team of graduate and current undergraduate students, summer program students participate in activities that take advantage of the Berkeley campus and surrounding area.
The summer program curriculum is built around a central physical question, like “What do earthquakes tell us about the interior of the earth?” Compass’s teaching staff believes that solving real-world problems and engaging in peer interaction are much more effective ways to learn than passively listening to someone tell you what you need to know, so the Compass teachers emphasize group work, collaboration, and hands-on activities. The teachers guide the students through the exploration of interesting problems. Additionally, the summer program aims to give students valuable insight into their own learning processes and to make them more effective collaborators and communicators.
During the program, Compass students build friendships while living in the same dorm, sharing meals, and working together on problem sets. In addition to coursework, students in the summer program also participate in activities from research lectures, lab tours, and trips to observatories, to nature hikes, frisbee games, and movie nights.
Ultimately, the Compass summer program creates a unique space for its students to make friends, learn science, and build confidence, making the transition to college a more enjoyable experience.
Past Summer Program Questions:
- 2007: What do earthquakes tell us about the interior of the earth?
- 2008: What is time?
- 2009: How does quantum mechanics help us see?
- 2010: How do wind turbines work?
- 2011: What is a non-Newtonian fluid?
- 2012: Can a slinky defy gravity?