Project Challenge, a popular program for North Country high school students offered by Clarkson University during the winter, will be offering classes on our Potsdam, NY, campus in 2023.

The program provides local students an opportunity to participate in classes they cannot normally find at their high school and explore their future interests and develop skills. 

Project Challenge - Potsdam Campus

Five-week courses will be taught by Clarkson faculty and administrators on Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. until noon, beginning in mid-January. The Potsdam campus program is administered by The Clarkson School, our early entrance program for talented high school students who have typically completed their junior year and are ready to begin college studies.

Courses will be held on the Potsdam campus on Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, on January 14, 21, 28; and February 4 and 11 with a snow date of February 18. To register, please contact your Guidance Counselor to complete the registration information. If you are a home-schooled student or a self-paying student, you can register online here. The deadline to register is Friday, January 6, 2023.  Please note that classes do fill up quickly as most are limited to 15 students!

Please contact Brenda Kozsan, Director of Project Challenge at the Potsdam Campus, at or call 315-268-4425 with any questions.

Courses offered this year include:

NEW! Gaming the System: Experiencing Politics through Games and Simulations – Instructor: Alexander Cohen

This course will give you an opportunity to explore and experience politics firsthand through a variety of interactive games and simulations. You will attempt to manage natural resources, serve as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, represent a planet in our solar system at a Galactic Senate, navigate the tense days of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and track down terrorists after a deadly attack in Houston, Texas. In doing so, you will learn about the conflict of ideas that surround the founding of this country, anarchy and the state of nature, institutional constraints, limits of bureaucratic thinking and how laws are written.

NEW! The Brain and Drug Addiction – Instructor: Robert Dowman

Attempts to address drug use and addiction have been ongoing for decades. Despite these efforts, drug use and addiction continue to result in significant social, health and economics suffering. For example, approximately 58 million people report having a substance use disorder, and the number of drug overdose deaths in the U.S. reached 90,000 in 2020. We will explore the psychological and brain mechanisms underlying drug use and addition. Questions we will explore include: Why do people use psychoactive drugs such as nicotine, marijuana, cocaine and opiates? Why do some drugs have a greater incidence of addiction than others? Can understanding changes in the brain responsible for addiction improve addiction treatment and prevention?

NEW! War and Pieces: Understanding World War II through Tabletop Games – Instructor: Alastair Kocho-Williams

This course will make use of tabletop games as a means of understanding of World War II. as a conflict, at differing scales, and in different contexts. From games that cover the whole war, different campaigns or battles, the war on land, at sea, and in the air, or the lives and fates of the men and women who fought the war, you will gain an understanding of the war from a number of different angles. We will investigate the challenges of fighting and winning World War II, what might have been different, resistance movements, and how games can be used as a means of understanding the war and its many aspects. Drawing on an extensive game library you will play and analyze games as a means of understanding World War II, and work to design a game of your own.  

NEW! Modeling: Using Mathematics to Understand our World – Instructor: Adewale Adeolu

We will explore three real-world problems through mathematics and technology to investigate: How do you choose the best doughnut or identify the best cookie? You will have the opportunity to develop a mathematical model you can use in the next shopping trip. How does mathematics help in understanding an epidemic like COVID-19?  In 2020, the world experienced a novel pandemic that shook our existence. Many countries, including the United States, declared a total lockdown and many other measures to curtail the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus known to cause COVID-19. We will physically simulate how disease spreads by chicken-dancing and playing rock-paper-scissors, collect data, and use technology to understand the data. Is there a relationship between your height and various body parts? We will collect data in class to understand how other body parts can explain human height.

Innovation in Industry: How to Bring a Product to Market – Instructor: James Franklin

Firms derive competitive advantage by bringing out new products and services. In the past, firms could sit on their time-tested offerings of products and services.  Not any more: with global companies offering newer products and services at an ever-increasing pace, even well established firms need to innovate their offerings. The challenge is to learn how to manage effectively technological innovation. Such an approach includes new ways to generate and implement strategic goals, communicate needed information, and organize tasks and manage people. Furthermore, firms are increasingly relying on business and technology partners all over the world to get innovative ideas.  This has led to the concepts of open and globally dispersed innovation. You will learn ways to explore approaches that encourage, enhance, and manage the technological innovation process in an organization.

Show Me the Money – Personal Finance for Teens – Instructor: Chad Colbert

Would you like to be wealthy someday? Understanding money and how it works is key to minimizing financial stress and increasing your likelihood of financial independence. Knowledge is power and the more you know about personal finance, the better you will be at taking charge/control of your resources instead of money controlling you. In this class we will go over budgeting, saving, debt and debt management, investing, insurance issues and even discuss taxes. The information in this course will better equip you to make sound financial decisions now and in the future.

Contemporary Social Issues - Instructor: JoAnn Rogers

This course explores the definition, causes, consequences, and solutions of social problems in U.S. society. Through films, readings, lecture, and discussion, students will learn about issues such as sex and gender, poverty, homelessness, economic and racial inequality, education, neighborhood segregation. Throughout the course, we will explore ways in which these social problems are part of the organization of society, and the way we can use our agency to address them.

Python Programming Crash Course - Instructor: Daqing Hou

Have you ever been curious about computer coding? Do you want to learn the popular Python programming language that everyone else has already known? Come explore Python while solving a handful of practical problems, from primality test, pi estimation, and root finding, through calculating mortgage, playing music, to steganography and deciphering codes.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens – Instructor: Brenda Kozsan

Based on the famous book by Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, we will explore the seven characteristics that happy and successful teens the world over have in common. For teens, life is not a playground; it is a jungle. How will you deal with peer pressure?  Motivation? Success or lack thereof? The life of a teenager is full of tough issues and life-changing decisions. This class will provide students with a systematic framework through exercises, team activities, and role-playing for boosting self-image, building friendships, resisting peer pressure, achieving goals, improving communication and relationships with parents, and success in high school, college and in life. 

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