STEM Summer Bridge Program

Student studying at Library

Passaic County Community College
Passaic Partners for STEM Innovation and Achievement Project (PPSIA)

Project Component

S.T.E.M. Summer Bridge Program

(Science, Technology, Engineering, Math.)

To “bridge” the transition from high school to college for incoming freshman, PCCC offers special sessions in July and August where students attend classes, free of charge, in PCCC’s new STEM Learning Center and experience a stimulating environment that incorporates discovery, hi-tech, and hands-on group learning.   


Students in a summer STEM class at PCCC study forensics and
DNA with biology professor Dr. Louis Scala

“This is a survey program that gives students broad exposure to different areas of science and technology,” explained Thomas van Aken, a PCCC Biology professor and STEM Learning Center coordinator at the College. The goals, he said, are to help students better understand the connections across STEM disciplines through interactive experiences and to develop the important scientific skills of observing, recording data, and measuring results.

The sessions are taught by presenters from the science, technology, engineering and math fields. Because math is often a barrier to the practical application of STEM concepts, the administrators said, the summer program generally offers special emphasis on the application of math to topics such as forensics, astronomy, environmental science, and computer technology, among others. 

Topics covered in the summer programs offer students a chance to probe unusual, relevant, and fun aspects of the STEM disciplines as well as learn about little-known but viable career options, such as milking spiders for venom, designing artificial body organs, and becoming a “professional” hacker.