Lawrence Brothers camp sheds light on bright topic By David Lias
Plain Talk Twenty-four students wrapped up an intense week July 18 learning just about everything they may want to know about light. The theme of this yearâ�?�?s Lawrence Brothers Science Camp, held on The University of South Dakota campus, was light and vision. The camp is designed for students entering seventh, eighth and ninth grades. â�?�?We have a theme every year,â�? said Sally Stoll, a Vermillion Middle School science instructor who helps with the camp each summer. A broad theme is chosen each year that includes aspects of physical science, chemical science, life science, mathematics and the health sciences. â�?�?We rotate the theme each year, so that the kids who are eligible can come to the camp for three years and not repeat the same activity,â�? Stoll said. This yearâ�?�?s camp attracted kids from all over South Dakota, and several out-of-state locations. â�?�?This is our seventh year of holding the camp,â�? Stoll said. Attending a camp with light and vision as its theme meant young people learned about the inner-workings of a telescope, and learned what causes the leaves of a tree to change color in the fall. They received lessons about the eye and the science of sight. Part of their education in this area was provided during a field trip to the Prairie Eye Clinic in Vermillion, with lessons from local Dr. Cindy Johnson Brown, local optometrist. They also took part in activities that show the chemistry, physics, biology, physiology and mathematics of light and vision. The camp began in 2002 through a generous donation from the John and Amy Bowles Lawrence Foundation and support from The University of South Dakota Foundation. â�?�?We also have many scholarships that we award,â�? Stoll said. â�?�?Anybody who can come to this camp because they are eligible grade-wise, that is, what grade they are in, can request a scholarship and weâ�?�?ve honored every request.â�? Students live on campus in dorms while the camp is in session. Their counselors are USD honor students. â�?�?We always try to something fun in the community, and we usually do the same thing every year,â�? Stoll said. â�?�?We took the kids swimming, bowling and to a movie, and during the last night, the kids and the counselors plan a party and spend time together on campus.â�? The goal of the camp each year is to inspire students and give them hands-on opportunities to conduct experiments designed to challenge them and teach them that science is fun. The more relaxed activities each night helped the students unwind after each day that was packed full of lessons and experiments. â�?�?The students are actually doing some activities that are real hands-on,â�? Stoll said. The camp offers challenges to both the students and the instructors. â�?�?Itâ�?�?s difficult, at times, to talk to kids about something that they donâ�?�?t know about,â�? she said. â�?�?And to get their attention is really difficult. Middle school kids all come with different abilities.â�?