Dawson Center provides and supports a five-week, tuition-free summer program and a follow-up two-week community outreach program to high achieving sixth and seventh grade public school students from across Las Vegas, Bolder County and the surrounding areas in Colorado. Our program is open to all high-achieving students regardless of family income. The number of students changes every year, but we recruit from the top 10 percent of students in Clark County and participating Boulder-Denver region middle schools, admitting students from over 80 different schools. Our turnout has been tremendously successful. Students can apply directly or can be nominated by a teacher or counselor. To be eligible, students must be high achieving, have a drive to work in the summer and remain dedicated to the program. Summer 2011 will mark our third year.

These students have already proven themselves in the classroom. Our summer programs allow students to see learning as extending far beyond the classroom to the world in which we all live. Our summer programs give them the chance to fully develop and take advantage of their drive and ability by attending these rigorous, hands-on enrichment programs. Our programs also provide an opportunity to build friendships and engage with intellectual peers.

As part of the Dawson Center family, our students are eligible for academic advising throughout high school and act as mentors to future groups of students eligible for the program.

The first summer consists of a 5-week, intensive study of a specific topic based upon a real-world concern. Students then return the next summer for a two-week program during which they put together an advocacy campaign to be launched somewhere in the community.

During Las Vegas’s inaugural 5-week program of summer 2009, students studied water with a particular focus upon growth and water use in Clark County. The program was called Water: Science and Culture in a Changing Climate. As part of Dawson’s new initiative, Dawson Green, these students returned the following summer in 2010 to create a campaign called The Water Revolution. This campaign encourages the use of refillable water bottles and to stop buying and using plastic bottles. This campaign is currently being supported at Tarkanian Middle School. Please visit mywaterrevolution.com to learn more.

Las Vegas Summer 2010 also hosted a five-week program, Epidemic: Past and Present, studying the impact of epidemics on society. During summer 2011, under the Dawson Health umbrella, returning students will create a community campaign focused on teaching 3rd graders proper handwashing techniques. July 18 – July 29.

Summer 2011’s 5-week program, will be Energy: Science Society and the powering of our Planet. Students will study energy in all of its political, social, historical, and scientific aspects. Over this 5-week course, students will work with energy officials, educators on the topics, governmental leaders and other energy experts to explore such questions as:

What are fossil fuels?
What is clean energy?
How do we tap new energy sources?
What does past energy usage and discovery teach us?
How do new policies get implemented?
Has the oil crisis affected travel and globalization?

Dates for the 2011 energy summer program are July 13 – August 12. Students from the Energy program will return in the summer of 2012 to build upon the Dawson Green initiative, to create a green energy plan for a school or business.