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100 Tampa Bay Middle Schoolers Enlightened at Eckerd College's First-Ever Summer Science Splash Camp

posted on 07/10/2012

Thanks to a generous grant from the II-VI Foundation, Eckerd College will be hosting close to 100 Tampa Bay middle schoolers for the first-ever Summer Science Splash Camp in July 2012. Eckerd is just one of two college partners to be selected by the Foundation to host this early education initiative. Campers will be exploring the study of light during this weeklong, residential science camp.

"The Summer Science Splash Camp affords gifted middle school students with an academic campus experience at a level that's age-appropriate," said Cheryl Gold, Eckerd's Director of Continuing Education, Conferences and Summer School. "The II-VI Foundation's support has enabled campers to participate at a very affordable cost, just less than a fourth of the camp's actual value."

The $235 fee includes participation in all science labs and activities, use of the College recreational facilities, meals, lodging, snacks and a camp tee shirt. The Summer Science Splash Camp, valued at $1,000 per student, is being offered during two one-week sessions (July 8-13, July 15-20). When the camp was first promoted in the spring, both sessions met their 48-student capacity fairly quickly.

Just as the scientists who explore the very small (molecules, atoms and subatomic particles) and the very big (galaxies, black holes) by studying the light that comes from them, students will learn how to 'see' light, waves, lasers, MRIs and the 'bar code' of stars.

Campers will be performing experiments in Eckerd's science labs and outdoors on the same equipment used by college students and research scientists. Lab activities will include: "Exploring Cosmic Bar Codes" (light from molecules and stars), "Kool-Aid Spectroscopy" (What does ultraviolet light tell you about Kool-Aid?), and "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do... Unless You Have a Spectroscope" (build your own).

"At the end of the camp, we hope that the students take away a strong appreciation for science, particularly, that science is a hands-on activity in ways they often never get to see in classrooms with small equipment budgets," said Dr. Anne J. Cox, Professor of Physics at Eckerd College and lead camp instructor. "They are getting to see the type of science one can do with sophisticated and expensive equipment - spectrometers used by research chemists - as well as inexpensive materials - pinholes and holograms."

The development of the camp curriculum's focus on the study of light was a collaborative effort of Eckerd College science faculty and certified science teachers from Pinellas County middle and high schools. Serving as camp instructors are:
- Dr. Anne J. Cox, Professor of Physics at Eckerd College
- Dr. R. Chris Schnabel, Associate Professor of Chemistry at Eckerd College
- Sommer Paquet, a 2006 alumna of Eckerd and a teacher at Largo High School where she teaches honors, regular and Advanced Placement chemistry in the ExCEL magnet program.
- Brian Walters, an 8th grade science teacher for honors and gifted students at Bay Point Middle School where he will be heading up the science department during the 2012-13 year.

Additionally, all of the camp's teaching assistants and counselors are Eckerd students and/or alumni.

Teaching assistants:
- James Gibson '14 of Melvin Village, NH, majoring in chemistry
- Max Martin '14 of Providence, RI, majoring in chemistry, double minoring in mathematics and marine science
- Elena Weinburg '12 of South Burlington, VT, majored in physics, triple minored in mathematics, Spanish and Chinese, interned at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (Greenbelt, MD) and NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center (Boulder, CO)
- Chloe Worri '14 of Jacksonville, FL, majoring in physics

Counselors:
- Susan Brody, Director of Camp Counselors, Director of the Eckerd College Road Scholar Program in St. Augustine
- Kyle Berghold '13 of St. Louis, MO, double majoring in marine science and environmental studies, interned at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium
- Jamal Dutton '14 of Philadelphia, PA, majoring in business management
- Haviland Kebler '14 of St. Petersburg, FL, majoring in biology, graduated from the Center for Advanced Technologies (CAT) at Lakewood High School
- Kelly Lewis '14 of New Port Richey, FL, majoring in psychology
- Katie Schaeffer '13 of St. Petersburg, FL, double majoring in environmental studies and human development, interning with The Edible Peace Patch Project

About the II-VI Foundation
Formed in 2007, the mission of the Pennsylvania-based II-VI Foundation is, "to encourage and enable students to pursue a career in engineering, science and mathematics while maintaining a standard of excellence in that pursuit." According to its website, the Foundation emphasizes early education programs since, "It is during these years that many favorable impressions are made and career alternatives come into consideration. To make a coherent and intriguing case for the sciences, mathematics and engineering careers would mean that our nation will be more likely to produce a larger number of students pursuing these disciplines."

The Sciences at Eckerd College
In January 2013, Eckerd will debut its $25 million, 55,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art Center for Molecular and Life Sciences. The laboratory facility will host biology, chemistry and biochemistry programs, as well as new academic initiatives that explore developments at the chemistry-biology interface. Equipped with the latest in educational technology and scientific instrumentation, the Center for Molecular and Life Sciences will bolster Eckerd's efforts to transform its science curriculum, and will quickly become the hub of the natural sciences at Eckerd College.

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