All YESS participants take two research-oriented science courses led by Caltech graduate students. Each course includes lectures, hands-on experiments, project work, research presentations and lab tours. The courses aim to expose program participants to fundamental science principles while giving them the opportunity to propose and explore advanced topics and current research in the fields.


Neuroscience - the study of the brain and nervous system - is a branch of biology, yet, neuroscientists are typically highly diversified scientists and engineers. Neuroscience spans a wide array of disciplines, including: engineering, mathematics, computer science, biophysics and medicine. The YESS Neuroscience course was designed to show the interplay between engineering and biology.

The neuroscience course is an intensive survey of neuroscience that uses lectures, demonstrations and hands-on laboratory activities to teach topics such as: brain anatomy, electrophysiology, recombinant DNA technology, neuronal modeling, the molecular basis of learning and systems neuroscience.

Physics and Engineering

The YESS Physics and Engineering course provides a rigorous introduction to the first principles of physics while exposing students to areas of active research in physics and engineering. Laboratory exercises, small group discussions, and homework problems are used to reinforce theory learned in class. Students transition from theory to design by competing in an engineering design competition. Lastly, students complete an advisor-guided research project where each team is required to write a research paper and give an oral presentation on a topic of interest.

The physics course is designed to complement, not replace, a high school physics course by emphasizing a conceptual understanding of physics fundamentals and presenting advanced topics in related fields. Advanced topics vary each year and may include orbital mechanics, fluid mechanics, introductory relativity, waves and optics, and biomechanics.