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Clarkson University Offers Unique Courses for North Country High School Students This Winter

Clarkson University’s Project Challenge, a unique academic program for North Country high-school students, returns this winter with a choice of 10 five-week courses.

The popular program is designed to offer regional students in grades 9-12 an opportunity to participate in classes that are not commonly offered in their high-school curriculum.

Clarkson faculty and administrators teach the courses on Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. until noon for five weeks under the direction of The Clarkson School. This winter’s program begins on Jan. 16.

This year the program offers four new courses:

That’s a Load of WBS! with Instructor of Engineering & Management Marshall Issen and Society for Project Management mentors will teach students how to become project managers. What do sending humans to Mars, developing a cure for cancer, designing the care of the future, and planning a party have in common? All these thrilling events involve creativity, teamwork and complex thinking.  Do you have these skills?  Are you up for a challenge? Join this course to learn effective project management.  Working in teams, students will be learning foundational project management skills and how to lead project teams.  Learn how to deal with a load of WBS (Work Breakdown Structure) for a successful future.

Smart City, Smart You! with Assistant Professors of Electrical and Computer Engineering Melike Erol-Kantarci and Burak Kantarci will show students how technology connects and communicates with other devices. Can people be smarter with technology? Mobile phones talk to each other to look for free parking, to arrange for a meet up with friends, they are even good for matchmaking. But what is behind the scene? How do they know your friends are going to movies, that there is a free spot in the parking lot, that your flight is delayed? The world around us is getting connected. We are getting connected. People are becoming a part of communities through social networks. This class will teach students the basics of communications and networks that make things talk. They will see how connected devices, such as computers, mobile phones, watches and glasses, communicate. They will even see a message (simulated packets) flying in the air. They will learn how communities can be detected in networks. The class will have a lab session, where students will see sensor boards talking to each other, harvesting energy almost from air and a visualization tool for community detection in a social network.

Hack Life! The Role of Occupation in Living Your Life to its Fullest with Associate Professor and Chair of Occupational Therapy Rondalyn Whitney and graduate students will teach students about the day-to-day life and the therapy that engineers ways to convert disability into ability through play and fun. Have you wondered how people with no arms get dressed in the morning or take a shower? Ever wondered how someone in a wheelchair can drive or get out of bed or put on their pants?  Occupational therapists help individuals do the things they want each day in spite of disabilities. This is an experiential, hands-on course where you learn how to successfully navigate the day to day activities, or occupations, as if you had a disability. Learn how to go upstairs in a wheelchair, how to cook a meal without vision, or drive a car with no hands. Learn how play can help people learn and how gum improves performance on exams.  Learn what part of the brain is used when someone plays Scrabble or Quarto or the Set.  Learn about universal design and the exciting profession of occupational therapy.  The last session of the course will teach students life hacks, and they will even build their own life hack in Clarkson’s Occupational Therapy Simulation Lab.

Intro to Entrepreneurship with Ashley Sweeney, program coordinator for the Reh Center for Entrepreneurship, will expose students to leadership principles, team building, ethical decision making, financial statements and marketing principles. Have you ever thought about owning a business?  What about being the CEO or manager of a company? This fast paced course will focus on students’ entrepreneurial spirit and allow them to apply classroom concepts in a real-world context.

Other courses include:

Engineering for Life with Clarkson Mechanical Engineering Ph.D. Student Melissa Richards will provide students with an opportunity to learn how engineers are able to design the devices we see everywhere around us. Students will even have the opportunity to design and build their own “Rec-Rube-y.”

Strength and Conditioning — It’s a Science, Not an Art with Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy and Physician Assistant Studies Ali Boolani will explore what goes into designing a strength and conditioning program. This class will explore the physiology of exercise and how science can be used to design strength and conditioning programs that can help improve performance and reduce risks for injuries. Participants will be involved in a variety of activities to enhance learning through laboratory and field evaluations and exercise techniques; brain teasers and memory tests; balance activities; strength training activities; and role play. Students will learn the role of cardiovascular, muscular strength, flexibility, body composition and muscular endurance in strength and conditioning.

Psychology: More than Reading Minds and Lying on Couches! with Assistant Professor of Psychology Jennifer Knack invites students to discover how the field of psychology explores human behavior, thoughts and emotions from many perspectives. Through the use of video clips and activities, students will discover how the field of psychology explores human behavior, thoughts, and emotions from multiple perspectives (e.g. cognitive, social, biological, personality, developmental, and counseling/clinical).

Writing Software and Changing the World with Associate Professor of Computer Science Jeanna Matthews will give students a solid introduction to the fundamentals of writing software. They will write some fun software like a personality quiz they can use on friends and a text-based game, and discuss careers in computing and the ways in which citizens with knowledge of computing can make a difference in the world.

Real Medicine with Clinical Assistant Professor Dawn White, Clinical Assistant Professor and Chair of Physician Assistant Studies Keith Young, and Assistant Professor and Director of Anatomy Lab Mario Ciani will teach students about careers in healthcare. Big surprise — most of the medical information people see on TV is not accurate. Join the faculty of Clarkson’s Physician Assistant program to learn about medicine in the real world. Have you ever wondered how to take someone’s pulse and heart rate? What do doctors look for when they look in your ears and eyes? Through the use of a stethoscope, students will be able to listen to the heart and lungs. How well do you breathe? Students will learn how to measure this and look at X-rays to see what pneumonia and other conditions look like.  What is a CAT scan or an MRI? Have you ever broken a bone? The class will visualize X-rays of fractures and then do some splinting of the arms and legs. Students will learn how to put stitches in, test blood sugar and find out what happens when someone has a heart attack or stroke.

The First Amendment in American Democracy with Associate Professor of Political Science Christopher Robinson invites students to read a series of U.S. Supreme Court cases and, through discussion and mock trials, consider the relation of the liberties guaranteed by the First Amendment to the quality of democracy we know in America today in. The course will focus on cases on freedom of speech, religious freedom and freedom of the press.  Of particular concern is the effect of the war and national security on these freedoms.  Students will read actual court cases and engage in a series of debates and mock trials that concern First Amendment questions.

Project Challenge courses will begin on Saturday, Jan. 16, and continue through the next four Saturdays until Feb. 13, with a possible snow date of Feb. 20.

Schools that have participated in the past include Alexandria Bay, Brasher Falls, Brushton-Moira, Canton, Chateaugay, Clifton-Fine, Colton-Pierrepont, Edwards-Knox, Gouverneur, Herman-Dekalb, Heuvelton, Indian River, Lisbon, Lyme, Malone, Massena, Morristown, Ogdensburg, Parishville-Hopkinton, Potsdam, Sackets Harbor, Salmon River, Saranac Lake, and Thousand Islands.

Interested students should first contact their guidance counselor to see if their school is participating. Participating high schools may sponsor all or part of the students’ tuition.

If the school is not participating, the out-of-pocket expense for the program is $140 per student. Enrollment in all courses is now available, but space is limited.

For more information, go to, contact Brenda Kozsan or Annette Green at 315-268-4425, or email .

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

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