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EASI Summer Science Camps teach local youth to “Plant Yourself into Science!”

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EASI Summer Science Camps teach local youth to “Plant Yourself into Science!”

By Lori Dugan

Thatcher, AZ— Eastern Arizona College (EAC) and the Eastern Arizona Science Initiative (EASI) teamed up last month to hold their annual Summer Science Camp for students in grades 6-9 at Eastern Arizona College’s Discovery Park Campus with almost 40 students from throughout Graham and Greenlee Counties at the three-day camp this year. The camp is designed for students interested in science and technology to participate in a variety of 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 also hope to inspire these outstanding students to participate in higher level math and science courses in college, and ultimately pursue careers in science,” said Paul Anger, EAC Discovery Park Campus director and coordinator for the camp.

This year’s camp theme was “Plant Yourself into Science!” and introduced STEM learning into agriculture and ecology conservation. The class activities included airplane aeronautics and design and ended with a contest to see which design stayed in the air the longest.

The students were able to use their creative side during the math and symmetry activities where using a picture of one half of their face, they had to draw the other symmetrically. One of the kids’ favorite activities was dissecting pigs, frogs, fish, snakes, and turtles to compare their body structures, and then compare that to plants. Later, the students collected several types of local insects to observe their design and adaptation to our environment. A camp favorite was the “Survival of the Smartest” contest. Using only what was available on hand, students had to figure out how to survive in a dry, hot desert. They also had their knowledge tested in a game-show type activity about local crops and plants that grow in the Gila Valley. The main event this year was an all-day field trip to the University of Arizona’s Graham County Cooperative Extension Agricultural Center in Solomon where they learned about soil types, genetic modification in plants, “good” and “bad” insects, GPS in farming, and water conservation.

The camp finale included pizza, prizes, and a star party where each camper received their own “planisphere” (star chart) through a grant from the Graham and Greenlee chapter of the Rural Innovation and Activation Network (RAIN). Campers were given a lesson on how to use the “planisphere” to locate the North Star and other constellations and were then joined by their families to locate the constellation through a laser demonstration and later with the help of the Desert SkyGazers astronomy club through the 20” Tinsley telescope located inside the Discovery Park Campus observatory. During the camp, students received a light breakfast and a sack lunch through the Safford School District’s Summer Meals Program.

Anger commented that, “It’s always exciting to see students who share an interest in the sciences come together and learn and grow and make new friends.” He continued, “We are fortunate to have the dedicated teachers and community members who share lessons and activities with our students.

It’s inspiring to see the students so eager to learn and with a little direction and leadership, they accomplish so much... I can’t wait to see what the future holds for them.”

“We sincerely appreciate those who helped make the 2017 EASI Summer Science Camp such a great success: Freeport McMoRan 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, the U of A Graham County Extension Office and Agricultural Center, Safford Schools Summer Meals program, and the wonderful teachers from all over eastern Arizona who shared their time and talents to teach these incredible youth,” said Anger.

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 workshops for Teacher Professional Development, all hosted by EAC’s Discovery Park Campus.

“Please support your students and their teachers by encouraging their participation in the events and activities sponsored by the Eastern Arizona Science Initiative,” said Anger.

For more information on the Eastern Arizona Science Initiative’s activities please contact Paul Anger at the EAC Discovery Park Campus at (928) 428-6260.