Young Scientists, Arts Fans Attend Summer Camps

 Dr. Kris Dougherty with youngsters at science camp

Summer camp season at Palm Beach Atlantic University is in full swing.

On Monday, groups of budding scientists, biologists, geologists and physicists were exploring the world of natural disasters in a range of lab experiments and activities on opening day of two camps organized by PBA’s Center for Integrative Science Learning

The Summer Science Camp, which is geared toward children entering grades one through five, offers educational sessions on tree insulation, storm surge, flash floods and a forest fire demonstration, among other hands-on activities.

In an opening session of the Science Camp, a group of 21 students sat transfixed watching a series of controlled experiments conducted by Dr. Kris Dougherty, PBA biology professor as she demonstrated how the elements of fuel, heat and oxygen combine to create a flame. 

At the Summer Science Institute for middle and high school students, the daily schedule includes lectures on natural disaster topics such as meteorology tools, earthquakes and wildfire, computer modeling lab work and weather measurement tool-building exercises. 

In an early Science Institute session, 13 middle school students were working with large plastic bottles, rulers, tape and tubing to build makeshift barometers for measuring atmospheric pressure under the direction of Dr. Linda Sedlacek, associate professor of earth science and oceanography.

In all about 90 students are enrolled in this year’s first week of summer science camps, said Sara Browning, assistant professor of biology and camp coordinator. A second week of camps is planned for June 11-15 under the theme “Science of Survival.” 

“It’s been a good turnout,” said Browning, noting the science camps have been ongoing for several summers now. “We get positive feedback from the parents who say the children enjoy it and are excited to come back.”

The first week of the five-day science camps continue through Friday.

“It’s going great and it’s real fun,” said Sean Meister, 13, of North Palm Beach after a session where the campers had to build an anemometer, a device used for measuring the speed of wind, from paper cups and sticks and other materials. “I find it interesting.”

For second-time PBA camper Jackson Vangiessen, 14, of West Palm Beach, the science camp is an opportunity to not only learn something new but also make new friends. 

Professor Linda Sedlacek with middle school campers

Also opening Monday was PBA’s first-ever Classics Camp, which attracted 21 students for its inaugural run.

“We’re very happy with enrollment and excited about our curriculum, “said Dr. Elizabeth Stice, camp director and professor of history.  “This was our first year and the camp sold out, so that’s very exciting and indicates interest is strong.”

The Classics Camp for middle school students from sixth to eighth grade, explores the Trojan War through ancient writings of Greek poet Homer, the Greek language, hands-on projects, a guided art gallery tour and other activities.

“The camp is [expected] to continue next year and we will consider expanding enrollment,” Stice noted.

For summer 2019, the Classics Camp’s theme will be Athens & Sparta, the Roman Republic in 2020 and the Roman Empire in 2021, Stice said. 

Kristin Maikkula's daughter Jane, 13, is participating in the Classics Camp as her first PBA summer camp experience, the West Palm Beach mother said after dropping her off Monday.

"She's very academically oriented and wanted to do something where she could learn something and not just do an activity," Maikkula said.

A slew of other summer camps will be taking place on the PBA campus between June and August including basketball, dance, Lacrosse, music, softball and soccer programs.