Plymouth, N.H. – Seven wide-eyed children gather around a lab table in PSU’s Boyd Science Center, eager to find out what happens when a piece of dry ice is dropped into a container of water. As Assistant Professor of Microbiology Mike Son gently places the dry ice into the water, the resulting vapor elicits excited laughter from the kids, who range in age from six to eight. They’ve just participated in a simple experiment about matter; how water can easily change from a solid, a gas and a liquid. The class is part of a Plymouth State University summer camp called The Science Explorers, introduced this year by PSU as part of a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) outreach effort.
Dr. Cynthia Vascak, Dean of PSU’s College of Arts and Sciences, said STEM education is a priority for the institution and the summer camps are a tangible way to reach young people with that goal.
“The science camps introduce children to dynamic real world applications of STEM skills and knowledge, inspire wonder and fascination, build confidence and interest, and open pathways of exploration and discovery,” said Vascak. “Building a STEM pipeline with our K-12 schools and providing dynamic K-12 summer training for students helps us achieve our goal of prioritizing STEM education in New Hampshire, a goal the entire USNH system has pledged to achieve.”
Professor Son developed the week-long course with the idea that each day would cover a different aspect of science education; rudimentary experiments involving chemistry, biology and eco-systems to introduce students to thinking critically and helping them gain confidence in their own ability to solve problems.
“Now is the best time to build their awareness of science, as early as possible,” noted Son. “STEM is a major influence and focus for me and the University. I wanted to get kids involved with science to get them interested and build off that momentum.”
Eight year-old Ben Limric of Madbury, N.H., said he’s having a lot of fun at the Science Explorers Camp.
“Last year when I was in first grade we did some science experiments and I just fell in love with it. It’s a lot of fun and it’s amazing how it works,” Limric said.
Eight year-old Trisha Bradbury of Northfield was also enjoying the camp.
“It’s fun to learn new things–what if one day I become a scientist?”
In addition to the Science Explorers camp, PSU is offering other youth programs this summer including Junior and Senior Lego Engineering Camps and a Mindstorm Madness Camp.
“It’s important for PSU to take the lead in making these youth programs available,” said Linda Hammond, ’10G, PSU’s Community Education Coordinator. “Not only does it give the public an inside view of the University, it informs them that we are serious about education at all levels.”
For more information about this release, contact Bruce Lyndes, PSU News Services Mgr., (603) 535-2775 or firstname.lastname@example.org