WRAIR GEMS offers middle and high school students exciting opportunities to engage in hands-on STEM activities alongside college-age mentors, called near-peer mentors, in a professional laboratory environment.

Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced GEMS programs give students progressively more autonomy in their GEMS experiences. For example, intermediate and advanced students are given more independence for testing variables than beginners. The GEMS students are mentored by university level near-peer mentors (NPM). The NPMs facilitate the laboratory investigations and discuss the importance of STEM research. The week-long GEMS session concludes with poster presentations, during which the students present their preliminary findings, as if attending a scientific meeting. Therefore, students gain experience not only in researching and designing projects, but also in practicing science communication skills via presenting their research before a knowledgeable audience.

Biomedical GEMS:

The biomedical program will be held at WRAIR, Silver Spring, MD. Rising 7th through 12th graders explore science through hands-on activities, simulations, computer applications, and classic laboratory experiments with model invertebrates such as cockroaches, fruit flies and planaria. We use different modules each year. In the past we have covered a variety of topics, including physiology, neurobiology, materials science, microbial interactions, drug effects, animal behavior, and climate science. Students gain practice in using the scientific method, designing experiments, recording data and forming conclusions based on their data.

Please Note: Beginning sessions of Biomedical GEMS are for four days.  Intermediate and Advanced are for five days

Engineering GEMS:

The engineering program will be held at Montgomery College-Takoma Park/Silver Spring campus. Our program is a little different each year, but in the past, lessons have ranged from core engineering topics such as simple machines, circuit design, and energy/momentum to project management and communication. The curriculum is intended to expand students’ perception of engineering beyond “building things” and encourage students to use their problem-solving skills to solve real-world problems. Using lessons, design challenges, and real-world scenarios, students are immersed in a complete engineering environment and experience the full engineering design process. Students learn a broad range of engineering skills while also developing professional skills such as teamwork, creativity, and how to present findings in front of an audience.

Please Note: All Engineering sessions are for four days.

Information for Students

During the one-week sessions free of charge our students gain exposure to the diversity of STEM fields and careers.

Students can apply for a one-week session between June 10 – August 16, 2019 in our biomedical or engineering programs at one of the following levels (Fall 2019 Grade Levels):

  • Beginning (7th-8thgrade)
  • Intermediate (9th-10thgrade)
  • Advanced (11th-12thgrade)

Upon completion of the program, students earn a $100 stipend for their participation.

*Application deadline extended to April 15, 2019. Those applying by March 31 will be given priority in the selection process. Selections will be finalized by May 20. Those not selected will be automatically placed on waitlist. There is no timeline for selection from waitlist.***

Information for Near-Peer Mentor

The GEMS near-peer mentor is typically a college-age mentor currently pursuing a career in a STEM field. Closer in age to our students, near-peer mentors share their scientific interests with the students, guide students in a hands-on exploration of science concepts, and develop meaningful connections throughout the week. In addition to a strong understanding of their science, near-peer mentors offer guidance in choosing high school courses, applying to college and scholarships, and adjusting to college-level academics.

Completing the application and consents (including Terms and Conditions) DOES NOT guarantee acceptance.

Important Dates

February 15, 2019
Near-Peer Mentor and Resource Teacher applications close

March 31, 2019
Student application 2019 closes
Selections will be finalized within 6-8 weeks after application closes.

April 15, 2019
Student application deadline extended

June 10-14, 2019
Biomedical at WRAIR Session 1- Advanced/Intermediate

June 17-20, 2019
Engineering at Montgomery College, Takoma Park Session 1 - Advanced

June 17-21, 2019
Biomedical at WRAIR Session 2 – Advanced

June 24-27, 2019
Engineering at Montgomery College, Takoma Park Session 2 - Intermediate

June 24-28, 2019
Biomedical at WRAIR Session 3 – Intermediate

July 8-11, 2019
Biomedical at WRAIR Session 4 – Beginning
Engineering at Montgomery College, Takoma Park Session 3 - Beginning

July 15-18, 2019
Engineering at Montgomery College, Takoma Park Session 4 – Intermediate

July 15-19, 2019
Biomedical at WRAIR Session 5 – Advanced/Intermediate

July 22-25, 2019
Biomedical at WRAIR Session 6 – Beginning
Engineering at Montgomery College, Takoma Park Session 5 - Beginning

July 29 - August 1, 2019
Engineering at Montgomery College, Takoma Park Session 6 – Intermediate

July 29 - August 2, 2019
Biomedical at WRAIR Session 7 - Advanced

August 5-8, 2019
Biomedical at WRAIR Session 8 – Beginning
Engineering at Montgomery College, Takoma Park Session 7 - Advanced

August 12-15, 2019
Engineering at Montgomery College, Takoma Park Session 8 – Advanced/Intermediate

August 12-16, 2019
Biomedical at WRAIR Session 9 - Intermediate

More Information

The Walter Reed Army Institute of Research

Headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland, the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) is the oldest and most mission diverse biomedical research laboratory in the Department of Defense. WRAIR provides unique research capabilities and innovative solutions to a range of force health and readiness challenges currently facing U.S. Service Members, along with threats anticipated during future operations. With comprehensive research units in Africa, Asia, and the Caucasus region, WRAIR is comprised of two Centers of Excellence, the Center for Infectious Disease Research and the Center for Military Psychiatry and Neuroscience.

Interested in this program?

If you are interested in this program email us or call 301-319-7129. We'd love to hear from you!