Saturday & Summer Learning Experiences

It's not just extra learning opportunities. It's extra fun.

Saturday Experiences

Over their three years in the Accelerate program, students are required to attend one Saturday Experience annually. Transportation to and from Saturday Experiences is the responsibility of each student and his or her parents, although Accelerate can assist in arranging carpools or buses for long-distance trips. If students choose and space allows, they are encouraged to attend more than one Saturday Experience each year.

The aim of Saturday Experiences is to offer Accelerate students opportunities to see real-world engineering processes and practices and to expose them to various engineering career possibilities. Experiences always occur on Saturdays and can take anywhere from half a day to a full day.  At the beginning of the academic year, students are presented with the schedule of Saturday Experiences. After they rank their preferences, they are assigned an Experience on a first-come, first-served basis.

In previous years, Saturday Experiences have included the following trips and workshops:

  • Day trip to the H.B. Robinson Nuclear Generating Station (Hartsville, SC)
  • Day trip to Cummins Turbo Technologies (Ladson, SC)
  • Day trip to Clemson’s International Center for Automotive Research (Greenville, SC)
  • Workshop on Patent Procedures and Preparation, sponsored by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (Hartsville, SC)
  • Day trip to Francis Marion’s Industrial Engineering Department (Florence, SC)
  • Day trip to the Cowans Ford Hydroelectric Station (Huntersville, NC)

Summer Experiences

In the summer preceding each of their years in the Accelerate or TEAMUP programs, students are required to attend a week-long Summer Experience. The aim of Summer Experiences is to bring together all students from across the state, to introduce them to engineering challenges and fields of study, and to develop their critical-thinking skills and teamwork abilities.

At the end of each Summer Experience, students provide presentations related to the work they have completed over the preceding week. These presentations are open to the public and are attended by mentors, faculty, and administrators associated with the Summer Experiences.

Base Camp (Rising 10th-Graders)

Base Camp is for rising sophomores who are enrolled in either the Accelerate or TEAM UP programs. Students convene in Hartsville for a one-week residential summer learning experience in which they: 

  1. Engage in team building activities with other GSSM Virtual Program classmates from around the state. 
  2. Explore the engineering design process through interactive hands-on projects. Previous Base Camp projects included: 
    • Computer generated simulations
    • Structural design of bridges 
    • Medical device design
    • Drinking water analysis and improvement
  3. Increase important student success strategies such as time management and critical thinking. 

Student stands next to a hand-built rollercoaster structure.

Students kneeling and sitting around a robot.

University of South Carolina Camp (Rising 11th-Graders)

All rising 11th-graders attend a week-long camp at the University of South Carolina (USC) in Columbia, SC.  Usually scheduled during one of the first two weeks of July, the USC camp is designed and led by USC faculty and undergraduate and graduate students.  For the duration of the camp, Accelerate students reside in USC dormitories.

Over the course of the camp week, students work in small groups (usually three or four students) to design and build autonomous vehicles that are controlled and navigated by way of a magnetic field.  Learning the fundamentals of electromagnetics and circuitry prior to and during the building process, students refine their driverless vehicles in preparation for an end-of-the-week race.

Clemson University Camp (Rising 12th-Graders)

All rising 12th-graders attend a week-long camp at Clemson University in Clemson, SC.  Usually scheduled during the second or third week of June, the Clemson camp is designed and led by Clemson faculty and graduate students.  For the duration of the camp, students reside in Clemson dormitories.

Over the course of the camp week, students are usually divided into small groups (three or four students), although some students may choose to work individually or in pairs.  Prior to the camp, students receive a list of areas of research and experimentation and are asked to rank their preferences.  Upon arriving at Clemson, they learn their groups and remain in them for the entirety of the week.

In past years, students have participated in the following activities:

  • Chemical Engineering: Analyzing and implementing membranes for water filtration
  • Mechanical Engineering: Drawing, designing, and implementing mechanical parts for a variety of engineering applications
  • Civil Engineering: Using custom software to design virtual roadways that replace existing roads or improve current traffic patterns
  • Materials Science: Working alongside graduate students in the lab to develop materials that have enhanced durability and design applications for a variety of engineering projects
  • Environmental Engineering: Studying the environmental impact of various building materials and developing compost samples for use on Clemson farms

Students working on a lab project.