Mad Science: SUU Summer Camp Inspires Next Generation of ScientistsJune 02, 2014
Author: Jessica Young
If Christopher Newton had his druthers, he would dedicate his entire summer vacation at Southern Utah University experimenting with solar powered boats and creating his own smoldering irons.
“I made this smoldering iron all by myself and even this solar powered boat, all in one week, it was such a blast!” exclaims Newton, a junior at the SUU SUCCESS Academy.
After spending his first week of summer break at the SUU Technology, Engineering & Computer Science (TECS) Summer Camp, Newton left with a caffeine high and an increased love of electronic engineering, an attitude not typically found in 15 year-olds.
Newton was one of 49 other high school and middle school students from the western U.S. — students ranged from Nevada to Alaska — gathered at SUU to create their own computer applications, construct full-sized catapults and model 3D structures during the week-long summer camp May 27-31.
With activities scheduled in to explore the near by national parks, students were begging for more class time according to Rob Robertson, chair of the Department of Computer Science & Information Systems.
Robertson also states that he was one of six other SUU professors who were the ones giving these young students their first hands on experience of the STEM fields.
“My computer science students came in with next to no knowledge of how to formulate computer applications and after a few days of educating them they were able to publish their own games,” states Robertson.
Kaycee Etchart was one of those students. A recent graduate from Cedar High School, she came to the TECS Camp to get her first taste of programming before beginning her college education at SUU in the fall.
“It was great to work with these professors, and with their help I already published two computer games, it’s like I started my own business. I have loved this summer camp,” says Etchart.
Giving high school students a premature taste of what college will be, 13-year old Charlie Dodgion was able to use architectural software to draft a house with a bat cave underneath it.
“This was so much fun. It’s like a college class where I can just learn about my favorite subject. So much fun,” says Dodgion.
Along with students choosing one of the four tracks — computer science, electronics engineering technology, integrated engineering and CAD/CAM engineering technology — to focus on, campers were also able to visit local businesses with a focus on engineering and computer science.
This is the second year the Walter Maxwell Gibson College of Science & Engineering hosted a summer camp, and numbers have already doubled in size. The goal is to continue to host a summer camp focused on STEM and plans for the 2015 TECS camp are underway.