• Thu. Jun 23rd, 2022

Summer science programming returns, in-person and online

ByDebra J. Aguilar

Jun 21, 2022

After two years of virtual-only programming, the Morgridge Institute and UW-Madison campus will once again open their doors to high school students and teachers in person for summer science camp.

Now in her 16e year, the summer science camp is held over three week-long sessions, during which high school students and their teachers will learn about science and explore their own scientific identity while on campus.

In addition to the 70 students and 14 educators participating in the in-person camp, approximately 60 participants will connect remotely for an hour every Thursday as part of the six-week Summer Science Camp online workshop series. weeks.

“We’ve turned a pandemic challenge into an opportunity,” says Dan Murphy, outreach and lab manager for the Discovery Connections team, which is supported in part by the Morgridge Institute. “We got feedback from teachers and our partners that it was really great for a lot of them to have the flexibility of an online camp.”

Dan Murphy

Both the in-person camp and the online workshop will benefit from meeting simultaneously three times over the summer. The Discovery Connections team will operate these hybrid sessions with a camera installed in the room so that in-person and remote students can see each other.

“I’m really excited for each group to be able to see the different modes of experience,” Murphy says. “During that hour, they kind of see each other and get together.”

At the heart of the Summer Science Camp experience is building relationships between participants and the best scientists in their fields at Morgridge and UW-Madison.

Campers immerse themselves in scientific topics such as biomedical microscopy and imaging, stem cell science, drug discovery, and more. through multiple presentations and hands-on experiences, often using the same tools and technologies used by research experts.

The week ends with a science showcase where attendees become the presenters themselves by sharing their experiences with researchers and scientists from the Discovery Building.

Summer Science Camp is a unique program in Wisconsin because it is focused on high schools in rural communities that typically do not have access to science experience at this level.

Linda Dworschack teaches middle and high school science in the North Crawford School District, a small school located southwest of Viroqua, WI. She’s always looking for unique ways to inspire her students, and she jumped at the chance when she first heard about summer science camp.

It will be the 4e year she sent five students to camp.

“The ability for our students to see real science in real lab environments and talk to researchers and graduate students is pretty amazing,” she says. “It helps them see that it’s possible to be a scientist and that people are real people.”

Participating schools receive a supplies allowance to purchase lab equipment that they would not normally have, so they can incorporate what they learn at camp into their curriculum.

“It opens the channels for kids to see there’s a great future in science, and each different session is a way for them to dive in safely.”

Becky Liegl

“Teachers like it because it can more than double some classroom science budgets,” says Murphy. “If they don’t have in their budget to buy a pipette, now they do.”

For those attending virtual camp, the ability to easily access a wide range of STEM fields is valuable in itself.

Waupaca teacher Becky Liegl has two daughters who have participated in the online Summer Science Workshop series almost every year. She considers the online camp a great experience for kids who may not have the opportunity or exposure to the many facets of science.

“It opens the channels for kids to see that there’s a great future in science, and each different session is a way for them to dive in safely,” Liegl says. “They can dig into something they may never have known existed or didn’t have the resources to learn in school.”

In addition to the excellent personal feedback from teachers year after year, the Discovery Connections team has worked with the UW-Madison Rural Education Research and Implementation Center conduct a longitudinal survey of former summer camp participants to measure the added value beyond the camp itself. Travis Tangenmember of the Discovery Connections team and education and outreach manager for WARF, helped design and implement the study.

Of the 56 students who participated in the survey, 85.5% said the camp had a strong influence on their school careers, 71.6% said the camp made them think seriously about studying science at university and 85.7% said the experience helped them feel like they belonged in science.

For teachers, all 47 respondents said the camp had an influence on their long-term commitment to teaching.

The first week of the program will be honored with the name “Ed Jackson Summer Science Camp” in memory of UW-Madison Professor Emeritus and Chair of Medical Physics, who was a dedicated member of Morgridge’s Scientific Advisory Board and a passionate supporter of Summer science camp.

Participating schools this year include:

  • Kickapoo High School
  • North Crawford High School
  • John Edwards High School
  • Chetek-Weyerhaeuser High School
  • Wonewoc-Center High School
  • Independence High School
  • Markesan High School
  • Birchwood School District
  • Mercer School District
  • Mayville High School
  • Forward Service Corporation – Up
  • McFarland High School
  • Waupaca Learning Center
  • Janesville Craig High School
  • Mauston High School
  • Solon Springs School District
  • Mineral Point High School
  • Necedah Area Schools
  • River Valley High School

Since 2007, the Summer Science Camp and Summer Science Workshop Series have helped nearly 500 high school students from nearly 80 public high schools. The camp was offered free with the support of private donors and sponsors, including the Wisconsin Rural Opportunities Foundation, BioForward, the Kathy Smith Fund, the Melita Grunow Fund, and through a grant from the National Science Foundation.