EAC Discovery Park Campus hosts Eastern Arizona Regional Science Initiative camps
By Lori Dugan
Thatcher, AZ— Eastern Arizona College (EAC) and the Eastern Arizona Science Initiative (EASI) cooperated together to sponsor three Summer Science Camp opportunities for over 100 6th through 12th grade students from throughout Graham and Greenlee Counties earlier this summer. The Summer Science Camps are designed for students interested in science and technology to participate in a variety of fun, hands-on activities with the help of knowledgeable instructors to help them continue on a pathway learning STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).
“We hope to inspire these outstanding students to participate in higher level math and science courses in college, and ultimately pursue careers in science,” said EAC Discovery Park Campus director and director of the EASI Summer Science Camps, Paul Anger.
The first of the camps was the Tonto Creek STEM Camp with 35 students from 7th through 10th grade. Sponsored in part by a grant through the EAC Science Department and directed by Dr. Phil McBride, EAC Dean of Instruction, the students enjoyed the cool temperatures of the 5,000-foot elevation’s beautiful outdoor setting with pine trees and junipers as they participated in a variety of activities. This three-day camp involved activities in designing and building Lego cars to race; archery activities; exploring the geology, flora, and fauna of the Tonto Creek Canyon; building windmills to generate electricity; designing a functioning “Rube Goldberg” contraption; tower building with marshmallows and spaghetti sticks; an afternoon discovering waterfalls and pools along the creek; and an evening around the campfire singing and making “s’mores.” The culminating activity of the camp was a tour of the Tonto National Monument ruins with a Forest Service guide to teach about the function of the dwellings and lifestyle of the people who lived there.
The second camp experience was hosted at the EAC Discovery Park Campus where 54 students ranging from 6th to 10th grade participated in activities with a space and astronomy theme. The class activities included airplane aeronautics and design, several math games, creating constellations of the stars, extra-terrestrial exploration with video activities using green screens, SpaceRace observing activities, and a trip to the U of A Experimental Agriculture Farm in Solomon to learn about using satellites to remotely operate equipment and genetic modifications in agriculture. The highlight of the camp was a full-day trip to the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) at the Mt. Graham International Observatory where the students could see the world-leading technology, the immenseness of the telescope, and visit with LBT staff and astronomers about the world’s largest telescope. The camp culmination was a pizza dinner with a video and discussion on living in space, creating personal star-charts, and ending with viewing the night sky through a telescope with Bob Hiatt from the Desert SkyGazers Astronomy Club.
The final camp was a Crime Scene Investigator-Arizona Forensics Camp taught by EAC instructor Tammy Gillespie and Safford High School science teacher Morgan Rodgers. This camp involved 24, 8th through 12th grade students learning scientific principles and laboratory techniques in collecting evidence; crime scene observations; and conducting laboratory tests to solve crimes including using computers, collecting and analyzing fingerprints, conducting blood stain and DNA analyses, looking at gun residue, and performing chemical drug testing of mystery substances. One of the highlights of the camp was a visit to SPECTRUM LaserTag in Mesa for a lesson in light and energy and a couple of rounds of Laser Tag.
During the camps, students received a light breakfast and a sack lunch thanks to the Safford School District’s Summer Meals Program.
Anger commented that the annual Summer Science Camps are an opportunity for the sharpest student minds in Eastern Arizona to meet and learn from enthusiastic and knowledgeable educators and community members from a spectrum of science and business backgrounds that have come together with a common goal of improving the STEM education in Eastern Arizona.
“It never ceases to amaze me when I see what the youth in our area can accomplish when they learn teamwork and take a little direction from caring educators and individuals,” said Anger.
“We sincerely appreciate those who helped make the 2016 EASI Summer Science Camps such a great success: Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold for their financial support through the Valley of the Sun United Way, the Graham County United Way funding for camp supplies, donations from the wonderful FMI employees, and assistance from the U of A Graham County Extension Office and Experimental Farm, Safford Chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association, Safford Schools Summer Meals program, and those wonderful teachers from all over Eastern Arizona who shared their time and talents to teach these incredible youth,” he said.
The Eastern Arizona Science Initiative (EASI) is a collaboration of individuals from throughout Eastern Arizona, including local educators, administrators, and community members who have a united goal of attracting students to science in the hopes of motivating them to seek advanced college courses and careers in science. EASI also sponsors the annual Eastern Arizona Regional Science Fair, and quarterly workshops for Teacher Professional Development, all hosted by the EAC Discovery Park Campus. Parents can support their students and their teachers by encouraging participation in the events and activities shared by the Eastern Arizona Science Initiative.
For more information on the Eastern Arizona Science Initiative’s activities please contact Anger at EAC’s Discovery Park Campus at (928) 428-6260 or by email at Paul Anger.