SciTech offers fourth through ninth graders summer learning opportunity

Apr 11, 2012 | Education, General News

The SciTech Education Center at Louisiana Tech has the chance to bring students more learning opportunities this summer thanks to a $50,000 grant they have been awarded by NASA’s Summer of Innovation Program. All Louisiana students in grades fourth through ninth will have the opportunity to attend free on-campus non-residential camps throughout this summer. Students in fourth through sixth grade can attend June 11-15, sixth and seventh graders June 18-22 and eighth and ninth graders June 25-29. Dr. Glenn Beer, an assistant professor of education and the director of SciTech, said that it is fortunate for Tech to receive the grant because the project is collaborative. “We work closely with engineering, particularly Dr. [Niel] Crews, who is associated with the IfM (Institute for Micromanufacturing),” Beer said. “It takes a lot of planning to make sure that kids are engaged the whole time, and we’re fortunate to have Dr. Crews, who has a lot of experience, close to work with us.” He said he believes Tech’s proposal for the grant stood out because of its history. “We have a long history of programs for K-12 students in STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] disciplines,” Beer said. “We started the summer science institute back in 2000, and we’ve been doing the gear-up residential camp program since 2003. We’ve had more than 5,0000 or 6,000 kids in those programs.” Beer said he hopes that this project will bring forth new scientists and engineers. “There is absolutely a shortage of scientists and engineers, and experiences like this are very affective in getting kids engaged,” Beer said. “It really impacts all of us with what we can do to encourage students.” Local STEM coordinator Dianne Madden said the perk of this camp is that it is free. “It’s targeting your under-represented population, your women scientists,” Madden said. “Most of these children hear the word ‘engineer,’ and they think train engineer. We’re trying to teach them what an engineer really is.” Lindsey Keith-Vincent, museum educator with Louisiana Tech’s IDEA Place, said this will be the second year Tech will have NASA’s Summer of Innovation Program. “We were very grateful to have it funded again this year,” Keith-Vincent said. “In addition to these camps that we’re offering, the summer, innovation money also provides the opportunity to integrate NASA activities and materials for our LA Gear-Up summer curriculum. It allows us to reach kids across the state.” She said the camp is going to focus on the different types of sciences. “They’re going to look at biology and engineering,” Keith-Vincent said. “The Exploratorium is actually one of our partners with the IDEA place. The science museum and the IDEA Place are partners with a huge Exploratorium in California. It’s probably four times the size of Tolliver and has nothing but hands-on exhibits and interactive activities.” Keith-Vincent said a local high school teacher, Matthew Vincent, and Madden are looking at having the students design and create their own exhibits each week. “As (the Exploratorium’s) partner, we have exhibits and these things called ‘snacks,’” Keith-Vincent said. “They are small-scale exhibits with instructions to build for kids so they can make their own exhibits for their bedroom for $10.” Keith-Vincent said she first heard about the grant last spring. “Since we are an ERC (Educational Resource Center), we receive a lot of emails about upcoming events,” she said. “Last spring, we received and email about the opportunity, and we just jumped on it.” Keith-Vincent said she believes that approximately 1,400 students will attend this year. Registration for the Summer of Innovation is first come, first serve. For more information about the camp, call Keith-Vincent at 318-257-2866, or email her at Written by Sarah Brown, a senior journalism major