Kids receive hands-on experiences at science camp

Campers inspect a view camera at the Lawrence Brothers Science Camp in Vermillion last week. Pictured are Jade Nelson, Rebecca VandeBraak, and Jacob White. (Photo by Mark Maxon)

Like previous years, the 10th Lawrence Brothers Science Camp this year became a place for kids to do hands-on science.

Thirty middle school kids entering seventh, eighth and ninth grades participated in the 10th Lawrence Brothers Science Camp held at the University of South Dakota. The week-long camp started Sunday, July 10 and ended Friday, July 15, and was focused on the theme Light and Vision. Students got hands-on experience in a variety of activities like building a robot and programming it to seek out a light source and doing experiments with ultraviolet beads, investigating birds eyes and watching birds, and studying the effects of polarizing light.

The purpose of the camp is to engage kids in fun science activities. The camp stimulates interest in science for kids by giving them opportunities to experiment with science. The camp also gives them a chance to see what the college is like, said Sally Stoll, camp coordinator and Vermillion seventh grade science teacher.

Fifteen male students and 15 female students participated in the camp. The students came from 18 different schools from Chicago, IL, Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota.

The camp has grown, and kids are coming from all over the place. We offer scholarships and each year we have a lot of students coming for free, said Stoll. The camp is supported by a grant from Battelle to the University of South Dakota Foundation for $15,000 each for five years. That five year period ends in 2011. Other sources of funding for future years are being sought.

In addition to Stoll, six undergraduate honors students acted as counselors for the camp. They were Kevin Cwach, Renita Goetz, Ashley Lynch, Steffani Donahoe, Tyler Bloch and Nahuel Telleria. SD BRIN Information Specialist Mark Maxon was in charge of photography and taught kids how cameras work.

Kevin Cwach, 22, who has been the camp counselor for four years, said I am here to spread my science knowledge and share it with the children. Thats the reason I keep coming back every year. Its a lot of fun.

Dr Barb Goodman, director and principal investigator of SD BRIN/INBRE said, The camp is in honor of E.O and John Lawrence, USD alums, who contributed to science by winning a Nobel Prize in Physics (E.O.) and being the Father of Nuclear-Medicine (John).

Kiana Cabrera, 12, from Jane Adams (Joliet, IL) school said, I never used to like science. But its really fun. I really liked building robots. We also learned why older people lose their vision. Before coming to the camp, I couldnt have imagined that the older people lose their vision because their eyeballs get stiffer. I also liked going to the Wellness Center.

Hannah Doohen, 14, who was at the camp for the third time this year said, Its my last year. It is fun and I hope that USD does it again next year for more kids because its a really good opportunity and a great learning experience.

Seventh grader Jack Padmore, 12, from East Middle School, Sioux City, IA, said, Its great to have kids know about science. The camp also gives us an opportunity to meet new people. Some students have roommates and its fun being around them and learn from one another.

Another East Middle School student from Sioux City, Liam Parry, 11 said, All the instructions help us learn about science. Its fun. We also went to movies and the Wellness Center.

The kids were housed in the residence halls at the USD and were provided daily meals.

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