A program of the Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach offered to students in Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools

About the School

The School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt is a joint venture between Vanderbilt University and Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS). The School offers high school students a four-year, interdisciplinary, research-centered learning experience at one of the nation's most prestigious universities, where internationally recognized faculty are leading the way in diverse fields of scientific study.

This unique program is limited to 26 students per grade, and only those attending an MNPS school are eligible. To ensure every qualified student who is chosen can participate, there is no charge for the program.

Students pursue a curriculum that connects sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics through meaningful and engaging hands-on exploration with increasing depth and independence. During the academic year, students attend classes on the Vanderbilt campus one full day per week. The curriculum integrates cutting-edge "real world" content such as:

  • Bacterial transformation: students insert a DNA plasmid containing the gene for Green Fluorescent Protein into cells, allowing the cells to fluoresce under UV light;
Freen Flourescent Protein cells fluoresce under UV light
  • Fragmentation and bioassessment: students analyze and spatially-reference the physical and chemical properties of a section of the Little Harpeth River using global positioning systems, in-situ electrodes, and traditional surveying gear;
Students survey the profile of the Little Harpeth River
  • Videoconferencing: students meet with scientists in Hawaii to discuss the Pacific Gyre Garbage Patch. In advance of the videoconference, students dissect seabird boluses to collect data on the types of garbage these animals are accidentally ingesting.
Students identify the garbage found in seabird boluses

For three consecutive summers, students build critical thinking skills through completion of team research projects and independent internships. As rising seniors, students are placed in research laboratories where they complete independent projects. Continuing through their academic senior year, students receive intensive preparation and submit for national science competitions. Students also learn by teaching: sharing their knowledge with the scientific community through national science competitions, scientific journals, and in their neighborhood communities by implementing science outreach projects through the Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach.

NCSSSMSTSince 2010, the SSMV has been an institutional member of the National Consortium of Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science, and Technology (NCSSSMST). The NCSSSMST fosters and supports specialized science, technology, engineering, and mathmatics (STEM) schools by providing a forum for its member schools to share and develop collaborations and program ideas.