Although school's out for the summer, Bethel College's Summer Science Institute invites high school students to campus to experiment with science June 7 through 12 — for free.
Although school's out for the summer, Bethel College's Summer Science Institute invites high school students to campus to experiment with science June 7 through 12 — for free.Inaugurated in summer 2000, the program's goal is “to provide high school students with experiences of how science is actually done, rather than just reading about science or carrying out routine exercises,” said Dwight Krehbiel, professor of psychology.With this being the Science Institute's 10th year, Bethel faculty hope an extra financial incentive will help fill the Krehbiel Science Center with students who are curious about science.“Perhaps the biggest change this year is offering scholarships,” Krehbiel said, “which will allow students to attend without monetary cost.”In addition, students who subsequently express interest in attending Bethel will automatically be considered for Bethel's new National Science Foundation-sponsored S-STEM scholarships.Donations by Bethel alumni and even the employer of one alumnus made it possible to offer Summer Science Institute scholarships that cover the full cost, including lodging in the residence halls, meals, reading materials, a T-shirt and one hour of college credit.Students in the institute can choose areas of focus for the week. These have varied over the years, based on demand and faculty availability, and have included environmental science, neuroscience, molecular genetics, developmental psychology, chemistry, computer science and astronomy.This year's institute offers students the chance to explore chemistry by investigating the composition of various samples such as the metal or vitamin C content in organic vs. non-organic foods. In environmental science, students will conduct biodiversity surveys using insects as key indicators of environmental health, and will collect and identify the small mammals inhabiting nearby prairies and forests.Students interested in molecular genetics will gain experience performing a variety of molecular techniques such as DNA isolation and amplification, and will walk away with an actual DNA profile of themselves. Those who select “programming unplugged” will learn about the fundamentals of programming and may delve into robotics. In this year's psychology research area, theory of mind, students will study how we understand the minds of others by observing and interacting with two groups of people: adults with schizophrenia and young children.The institute “gives high school students a sense of what it feels like to be a scientist,” said Jon Piper, professor of biology and director of the institute. It also “builds on Bethel's strengths, offering high school students the opportunity to work closely with faculty with advanced degrees in their fields,” he added. As always, students will earn an hour of college credit for their work during the week.Monday through Thursday, students are involved in hands-on learning in the laboratory or field. They work together gathering data for projects that they help design. Friday morning is devoted to assembling presentations for the student symposium, presented in the afternoon to friends and family members.Other Bethel faculty for this year's institute are Karl Friesen, assistant professor of computer science, Gary Histand, professor of chemistry, Paul Lewis, professor of psychology, and Francisca Méndez-Harclerode, assistant professor of biology.To find out more about the camp, including schedule and registration information, visit www.bethelks.edu/community/summercamps/summerscienceinstitute.php.