The WRAIR GEMS offers middle and high school students an exciting platform to engage in hands-on STEM activities that are designed to stimulate inquiry-based thinking, scientific skills, and interest in STEM careers. Rising 7th – 12th graders will have the opportunity to explore STEM in a sophisticated laboratory setting and learn about STEM careers under the guidance of college-level mentors called Near-Peer Mentors (NPMs).

This year, we are offering 3 programs – all programs will be offered at Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced levels.

Programs and Locations:

  • Biomedical GEMs at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Silver Spring (Beginning level is for 4 days, Advanced and Intermediate levels are for 5 days)
  • Biomedical GEMs at the Montgomery College, Takoma Park/Silver Spring (all levels are for 4 days)
  • Engineering GEMS at the Montgomery College, Takoma Park/Silver Spring (all levels are for 4 days)

There is no cost to participate in any of the programs. Upon completion, students are awarded a small stipend.

Biomedical GEMS:

Students explore science through hands-on activities, simulations, computer applications, and classic laboratory experiments with model invertebrates such as cockroaches, fruit flies and planaria. Modules cover 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.

Engineering GEMS:

The curriculum is designed expand students’ perception of engineering beyond “building things” and to encourage students to use 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.

Information for Near-Peer Mentor

(Applications for NPMS opens on November 15)

The GEMS NPM is typically a college undergraduate or a HS senior. Closer in age to our students, NPMs share their STEM interests with the students, guide students in a hands-on exploration of STEM concepts, and develop meaningful connections throughout the week. In addition to a strong understanding of the STEM content, NPMs offer guidance in choosing high school courses, applying to college and scholarships, and adjusting to college-level academics. NPMs receive stipends based on their educational level.

Information for Students

(Applications open January 20, 2020) *Session dates coming soon!

Students can apply for a one-week session between June 15 – August 10, 2020 in our biomedical or engineering programs at one of the following levels (Fall 2020 Grade Levels):

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

Important Dates

November 15, 2019
Near-Peer Mentor and Resource Teacher applications open

January 15, 2020
Student applications open
(Check back soon for session dates)

February 15, 2020
Near-Peer Mentor and Resource Teacher applications close

April 15, 2020
Student application closes
Selections will be finalized within 6-8 weeks after application closes.

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!