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Juniata Debuts Residential Science Camp for Middle-School Age Group

(Posted July 10, 2009)

Salem Ghoweri, a Juniata sophomore working as a counselor at the camp, displays a robot that Geek Week campers will program as part of a workshop.

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- A scientifically dazzling week of experiments, excitement and learning in and around the facilities at Juniata College will be the focus of two residential week-long camps for students entering seventh, eighth or ninth grade July 26-31 and Aug. 2-7.

The two "Geek Week" camps are designed to give talented and curious students entering middle school grades early exposure to the concepts of physics, chemistry and other sciences in workshops and activities created to put the "fun" in the fundamentals of science.

"The camp is centered around daily workshops where the campers can do "CSI"-style forensic science, physics, optical science and work with polymers," says Sharon Conaway, a biology mobile educator for Juniata's Science in Motion outreach program. "We'll also have some really exciting activities that help kids understand science concepts such as shooting a laser through Jell-O, building a small-scale roller coaster and creating a crystal ball."

Each camp can accommodate 50 campers, and the camp costs $125 for the entire week, including meals, activities and rooms in a Juniata residence hall. To register for the camp or for more information, please call (814) 641-3604 or go to http://www.juniata.edu/services/conferences/documents/ScienceinMotionGREEKCAMPBrochureFINAL.pdf. To register for the camp online, go to http://www.juniata.edu/services/conferences/sim/geek_week.html.

The camps are sponsored by II-VI Corporation, Juniata College and Science in Motion. The camps are specifically designed for students emerging from the three middle school grade levels because national research projects have shown that students in the United States lose interest and competitiveness in mathematics and science during middle school or junior high school.

"The camp is centered around daily workshops where the campers can do "CSI"-style forensic science, physics, optical science and work with polymers."
Sharon Conaway, biology mobile educator, Science in Motion

The camps are funded by a $125,510 grant from the II-VI Foundation, a newly established, private, nonprofit foundation dedicated to funding enterprises that emphasize science education. The foundation shares its name and its chairman with II-VI Incorporated, a Saxonburg, Pa.-based company that specializes in synthetic crystal materials growth, optics fabrication and electronic component manufacture for use in a variety of industries.

"The grant from II-VI Corporation is important because the company makes products that relate directly to some of the camp workshops," Conaway explains. "Seeing how an industrial application works can make science easier to understand or spark an interest in a particular field."

Campers will be taught and supervised by science teachers from Altoona Area School District, Huntingdon Area School District and Moshannon Valley School District.

Campers will arrive and register on a Sunday, and activities will begin on Monday and continue through Thursday evening. Campers will depart Friday afternoon.

The Camp is built around five major (3-hour) workshops running from 8 to 11 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesdays and from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. Each workshop illustrates themed scientific principles.

--"CSI" Workshop: Students will analyze fingerprints, footprints and learn to analyze inks using gas chromatography.

--Light and Lenses: Campers will learn how light is bent or refracted using lenses in such equipment as microscopes, telescopes and eyeglasses. Students will build their own telescopes and use them to view the sky during a nighttime activity.

--Polymer Playthings: Students will use chemicals to mix compounds to create balls; some of which bounce, some of which do not. The students will examine the polymers used to create the toys and suggest possible industrial uses for the new compounds.

--Energy Waves: This workshop details how energy is transformed whether it is an ocean wave (campers will use a wave tank to study waves) or a mechanical "frog" that "jumps" using chemical reactions.

--Newtonian Magic: Students will demonstrate Isaac Newton's laws by analyzing reaction time and how seat belts function. In addition, campers can learn how magicians can pull tablecloths out from under dishes and discover how force works by building and operating a catapult.

The camp also will feature a series of smaller workshops designed to spark interest in robotics, physics, chemistry and astronomy.

Highlights from the one-hour sessions include using Lego Mindstorms to construct (and program) robots; Using dry ice to create a crystal ball; using liquid nitrogen to super-cool foods; learn how light disperses through gases; learn how light is affected by other materials by shooting a laser through Jell-O; use compasses to navigate and create maps; and build their own rollercoaster.

In addition there will be many evening activities, such as building and launching bottle rockets, tower-building using recycled products, water balloon launcher contests, GPS geocaching, building a protective shell for eggs and a science relay.


Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.