For just $50, participants are finding the five-day residential science and mathematics summer camp program hosted by the EKU College of Science at Eastern Kentucky University a hard bargain to beat.
Open to rising high school juniors and seniors, the academic curriculum features hands-on activities from multiple disciplines, including biological sciences, chemistry, geosciences, computer science, mathematics and statistics, and physics and astronomy.
“This is one of several unique features of our program,” said Dr. Tom Otieno, dean of the College of Science. “Many similar camps tend to feature activities from only one or two disciplines. Moreover, our curriculum was developed and is taught by college professors.”
The camp is dubbed “Solutions!” because the camp experience is centered on the development of solutions to real-world problems. Academically-focused activities are designed to inspire high school students to be excited about science and mathematics.
Dr. Karin Sehmann, associate dean for the College of Science, said, “In order for students to follow an educational pathway that aligns more directly with their career goals, it is imperative that they start receiving the appropriate information before they graduate from high school.” Accordingly, the EKU camp program also features informational sessions on degree programs offered by the College of Science, career opportunities to which the degrees lead, strategies for becoming college- and STEM-ready, and the college admission process.
A special feature of the program this year was a presentation by representatives from Novelis, the leading producer of flat-rolled aluminum products and the world’s largest recycler of aluminum. Jared Lake, process engineer, and Tammy Peyton, environmental health and safety assistant and Novelis neighbor coordinator, spoke to the campers on June 3.
Peyton and Lake discussed the partnership between Novelis and EKU, which includes investments in STEM education through the week-long summer camp and investments in sustainability through the campus aluminum recycling program. They outlined STEM-related careers in aluminum recycling, highlighting the Novelis Berea facility, which annually recycles one in every five aluminum cans recycled in the United States.
“It is encouraging to see both the level of interest and the continued diversity from students in the Science and Mathematics Camp this year,” Peyton said. “We are proud to support the camp in its second year and look forward to our continued partnership with Eastern Kentucky University.”
The camp was intentionally designed as a residential camp to broaden participation beyond Madison County and to introduce participating high school students to a university campus living experience. Recreational activities were built into the camp program each evening and included a campus scavenger hunt, dance/karaoke sessions, board games, a planetarium show, a pool party, ping pong, movies night and a tour of downtown Richmond.
“These activities give the students an opportunity to interact and make friends with people from diverse backgrounds who they would have otherwise not met,” said Jose Algarin, the college’s STEM recruitment and outreach coordinator and camp director. “The students really get to bond during these after-hours activities more than they can during the day, when the focus is on academic activities.”
This year’s camp, held June 2-7, drew 30 participants, including 29 from 12 counties in Kentucky and one from Puerto Rico. The counties represented included Campbell, Fayette, Garrard, Jefferson, Kenton, Laurel, Madison, Magoffin, Scott, Warren, Whitley and Wolfe.
The camp also seeks to help in the recruitment of underrepresented minorities into science and mathematics disciplines. Therefore, the college was intentional in its recruitment efforts to ensure the participation of such groups in the camp. Forty-three percent of the campers were female. Fifty percent of this year’s campers were white, 23 percent Asian, 13 percent black/African American, 7 percent Hispanic/Latino and 7 percent two or more races.
The camp was sponsored in part by Novelis Aluminum Corporation, Kentucky-NSF EPSCoR and GEAR UP Kentucky.