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Summer Science Career Camp

By Mary K. Meacham


Summer Science Career Camp was a day camp conducted at Brinkley High School. The camp had the following goals:
  1. To expose students to job opportunities in science fields.
  2. To improve self-esteem of students.
  3. To give students achieving below average on standardized tests the opportunity to participate in science activities usually reserved for students in honors or college prep classes.

Types of activities used:

  1. Lab activities:
    • Drug and poison analysis
    • Fingerprinting
    • Hair and fiber identification
    • Chromatography
    • Dissection of fetal pig
    • Use of microscope
    • Extraction of DNA
    • Effects of pollutants on living organisms
    • Soil chemistry
    • Effects of herbicides
    • Bacterial pollution
    Lab activities were chosen to correspond to a specific job being discussed at that time. For example, before visiting the State Department of Pollution Control and Ecology pollution labs were conducted. The number of lab activities carried out was determined by the length of the camp. Many of the labs were ordered as kits from scientific supply companies.

  2. Guest speakers:
    • Veterinarian
    • doctor
    • nurse
    • soil scientist
  3. chemical engineer
  4. science teacher
  5. dentist
  6. An effort was made to secure speakers who were alumni of our school or a school in our area and were members of minority groups.

  7. Language activities: Students wrote lab reports after completing each lab.

  8. Computer activities: Students used a computer to type the reports.

  9. Oral communications: Students gave oral presentations about field trips.

  10. Field Trips:

    • Little Rock Zoo
    • Arkansas Department of Pollution Control and Ecology
    • National Center for Toxicological Research
    • Rice Experiment Station
    • Fish Farming
    • Experimental Lab
    • Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
    • Arkansas State Police Crime Lab
    During each field trip students were given tours by personnel working at the facility. Students were exposed to a large variety of science related occupations at each site. Since many of the participating students did not consider themselves college bound, an effort was made to point out the many jobs relating to science that do not require advanced degrees. To encourage self esteem and a positive group image, all students and staff wore matching T-shirts with our camp logo on it during all field trips.

Target audience:

8th and 9th grade students interested in science who received recommendations from their science teachers were in the group invited to participate in the camp. Teachers were asked to recommend students from those scoring below the 50th percentile on the Stanford Achievement. Participation in the camp was voluntary. Approximately 15 students attended the camp.

The camp idea can be easily adapted to fit the needs of many student groups. Another teacher in my school district used the idea to develop a math camp. The needs of inner city students, rural students, at risk students etc., can be met by varying the kinds of careers studied, speakers used and facilities visited.

Background Information:

  1. Time and Personnel Requirements:

    The first year the camp was held for a four week period. I felt that this was too long to hold the attention of most of the students. The second year the camp was held I cut back to two weeks. This wasn't quite long enough to fit in all I wanted to do. I would recommend a minimum of two and one half weeks. One teacher was adequate to handle our small number of students. I was also able to hire two assistants who helped me for several days before and after the camp as well as during the camp. Students were chosen, supplies ordered and field trips were scheduled by the middle of May for a starting date of the second week of June.

  2. Facilities:

    The camp was held in three classrooms at Brinkley High School. One classroom was used for our short lecture sessions to present background information, listen to guest speakers and work on written and oral presentations. An adjoining science classroom was used for all lab activities. A business classroom with computers served as our computer lab.

  3. Sample Weekly Schedule:

    Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday
    9:00 - 10:00 Background information, safety measures, instructional videos
    10:00 - 12:00 Lab activities

    9:00 - 10:00 Write lab reports
    10:00 - 11:00 Guest speakers
    11:00 - 12:00 Use computer lab to complete lab reports

    8:00 - 5:00 Field trips

  4. Parent Participation:

    Parent participation was encouraged during all stages of the camp. Parents attended an orientation meeting after students were contacted and were asked to sign an agreement stating that they would encourage their child to attend regularly. They were invited to chaperone field trips. Parents were also invited to attend an awards program at the completion of the camp.

  5. Student Recognition:

    At the completion of the camp an awards program was held. Students were asked to speak about their experiences and were given certificates and scientific calculators.

  6. Funding:

    Funding for our first camp was provided by an enrichment program called Ventures in Education our school was associated with for one year. When our participation in this program ended, the camp was funded by Compensatory Education money provided by the state.

  7. Evaluations: Evaluations varied according to funding requirements.

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