Delivered by GSSM’s Center for Science Education & Outreach, SPARK! is designed to inspire an early interest in and awareness of STEM studies. In a series of after school workshops, 6th, 7th, and 8th graders follow their interests to learn the science or math concepts behind daily questions or curiosities.

Spark is now full for the Fall of 2020.

Students can select any or all workshops to attend. See the full list below!

WHEN: September - November 2020 (See dates below)
TIME: 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM
WHERE: Virtual
WHO: 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students
COST: Free!
Space is limited to 25 students per session

  • After school workshops exploring a wide range of STEM topics, selected based on students' interests.
  • An opportunity to connect with GSSM residential students who will serve as instructors and role models.
  • For some classes, a materials kit will be mailed to participants prior to the enrolled session.


  • Personal email address (parent or student; must be able to receive outside emails) to access Canvas, our web-based learning platform, and receive all notifications and instructions from instructors
  • Computer with internet connection that can handle video conferencing using Zoom.
  • Headset recommended for audio quality, but not required

GSSM cannot be held responsible to block inappropriate internet material from your family’s computer or internet connection. GSSM firewalls do not protect your home networks. Instructors may provide websites for students to explore for continued learning, and they cannot be held responsible for popup ads or other links that the student may follow.

Fall 2020 Spark! Workshops

Biology: What Makes Us Sick? (FULL)
Tuesday, September 29, 2020
Deadline to sign up: September 18, 2020

Viruses, colds, and flu, Oh My! Ever wondered why we get sniffly at certain times of the year? In this session, participants will discover what makes one sick, what keeps one healthy, and how to prevent certain illnesses.

Chemistry: Matter, the Physical Substance of the Universe (FULL)
Tuesday, October 6, 2020
Deadline to sign up: September 25, 2020

What makes up everything surrounding us? What do bricks, grass, and animals have in common? In this lesson, participants will explore the concept of matter and the various states of matter through experiments with the gas released when Alka-Seltzer reacts with water and the change from solid to gas when dry ice is immersed in warm water.

Math: Real-Life Math (FULL)
Thursday, October 8, 2020
Deadline to sign up: September 25, 2020

From cruise ships to famous artwork, math is everywhere. Participants in this lesson will explore different phenomena through the lens of patterns and equations. By learning about mathematics throughout history, and today, we will learn why math plays a role in everything. Come explore why math is such a big part of our lives.

Physics: Projectile Motion and Kinematics (FULL)
Tuesday, October 13, 2020
Deadline to sign up: October 2, 2020

Did you know that you can predict an object's motion by only knowing a few of its starting conditions? From shooting a basketball to a gymnast flying through the air, projectile motion helps us predict precisely how an object will move through space. In this lesson, students will learn the basics of kinematics, including what determines how far an object goes, how high it goes, and how long it takes to get there. Activities include predicting where a ball will land after launched with an understanding of gravity's role in its trajectory.

Spanish Language and Culture (FULL)
Thursday, October 15, 2020
Deadline to sign up: October 2, 2020

Have you ever wanted to learn more about Spanish-speaking countries? In this lesson, participants will learn about the culture of several Spanish-speaking countries such as Peru, Costa Rica, and Spain and learn some typical Spanish phrases from those countries. Activities in this lesson include listening to Spanish music and a map activity with Spanish-speaking countries. After this lesson, you'll learn how to truly live La Pura Vida!

French Language and Culture
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Deadline to sign up: October 9, 2020

Salut! Ever wanted to travel to France? In this lesson, participants will learn about French culture, including French dishes and the city of Paris. We will introduce the French language and where it is spoken worldwide, even outside of France! While working with an interactive map activity of French cities and listening to French music, students will be immersed in the French language and culture's beauty.

Biology: Plants (FULL)
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Deadline to sign up: October 9, 2020

Have you ever wondered what is in the air you breathe? In this lesson, participants will learn about varieties of plants that make breathing possible. Participants will explore the different types of plants, fruits, and flowers, and work to overcome plant blindness!

Chemistry: Physical Changes vs. Chemical Changes (FULL)
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Deadline to sign up: October 16, 2020

Ever wondered what the difference between a physical and chemical change is? Or how the chemistry of ripping a piece of paper and burning a piece of paper is different? In this session, participants will identify how physical and chemical changes impact our everyday life. We will learn how dissolving sugar in water and mixing vinegar and baking soda are entirely different on a chemical level through hands-on experiments.

Math: What Are the Odds? (FULL)
Wednesday, November 4, 2020
Deadline to sign up: October 23, 2020

Do you like to play games? Want to win the lottery? Want to be a first draft NFL pick? Or improve your batting average? In this lesson, participants will use games and riddles to learn about statistics. Through fun videos and interactive activities, participants will explore concepts like the Monty Hall Problem, and the role statistics plays in our everyday lives.

Physics: Forces (FULL)
Thursday, November 5, 2020
Deadline to sign up: October 23, 2020

From picking up a pencil to keeping us on Earth, forces are all around us! They explain the universe's fundamental nature, from the smallest atom moving and combining with another to the enormous gravitational fields that allow us and other planets to revolve around the sun. In this lesson, participants will learn what a force is, identify the many forces interacting around us (frictional, magnetic, electric, and gravitational) and gain a deeper understanding of gravity and movement on Earth and the role friction plays.

Music: Physics in Music (FULL)
Tuesday, November 10, 2020
Deadline to sign up: October 30, 2020

Do you like the sound of harmonies? Or maybe you've heard a nice guitar chord? In this lesson, students will learn how these chords are made and what makes them sound the way that they do. Students will explore the physics of pitch and several keys, including creating basic musical chords that we can play to test them out!

History: The Recent Years (FULL)
Thursday, November 12, 2020
Deadline to sign up: October 30, 2020

Have you ever wondered why the world is the way it is today? In this lesson, participants will explore recent American history from 1950 to the present, including significant social and cultural changes that lead us to where we are today. We'll listen to songs that defined the years, look at what people wore, and celebrate advancements from social leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. We'll even discover some of the most popular toys during this time. After this lesson, you'll understand why our grandparents don't like today's music.