Dart Scholars Take On Cambridge University for Summer Enrichment

The 2019 Dart Scholar Summer Enrichment trip took the high school scholars to Cambridge University in the United Kingdom where they completed a week-long tech course on artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and coding.

The Scholars: Ethan Slocock and Graeme Madison (Cayman Prep and High School); Cristin Jackson (Cayman International School); Charlotte Dowell (Clifton Hunter High School); Thomas Sevik Jr. (Layman E. Scott Senior High School); and Diandra Whittaker (St. Ignatius Catholic School)– lived and studied on the Clare College campus, getting a sneak peek at university life while potentially discovering a future career path.

For Glenda McTaggart, Manager Education Programmes at Dart, the summer enrichment trip is an annual highlight as it allows the scholars to get to know each other better while also broadening their horizon in terms of knowledge of STEM. “This year’s course was selected because it will serve them well in whatever they study,” explains Mrs. McTaggart. “Coding and AI are areas of study that are not yet part of Cayman’s high school curriculum. Taking this course gives them a headstart and may springboard them into something they are interested in - or they may realise they don’t really care too much about it.”

“I especially enjoyed the unique games and activities they organised for us as part of our course,” said Thomas Sevik Jr. “I consider myself so fortunate to have access to these types of enrichment courses as they provide unique learning experiences that exposes us to actual university life.”

Another element of the summer trip includes university visits. “As prospecting students that may want to go to any of these college campuses in the future, we get to experience what it is like there first hand and learn how it feels to be a student in a prestigious university rather than reading about it online,” said Sevik Jr. 

 “Visiting the universities and meeting recruiters allows them to learn more about the programmes available at each school and it teaches them what questions they should be asking to determine if it’s the right school for them,” explains Mrs. McTaggart.

On one of the stops, fellow scholar Kristin Ebanks, a 2014 Dart Scholar, invited the group to tour a lab at the University College London where she is completing her PhD. “Kirsten is working in a lab that holds the national collection tissue for neuropathological studies and for scientific research in the UK and worldwide It was an amazing opportunity for the more junior scholars to meet with Kirsten and  to see what it’s like to be at a university doing research as your post graduate area of study,” said Mrs. McTaggart.

“Being in a lab with Kristen was fascinating. I had never been to a brain bank before and I had never seen  actual brain matter, especially not under a microscope,” said Sevik Jr.

The annual trip always includes some aspects of STEM related culture and a little fun too. The group finished by exploring the Tate Modern, the Science Museum, the National Gallery, the Tower of London and taking in a live theater performance of “School of Rock.”