Bethel's Summer Science Institute, which is already underway and runs from June 4 to June 9, offers research investigation opportunities to students entering grades 10 through 12 – or, if space is available, to 2017 high school graduates,
The program focuses on various areas of science, including Biology, Psychology, Chemistry, Computer Science and Mathematics.
During the course of the institute, students are able to study challenging topics – many of which high school courses do not typically cover. The overall focus of the academy is on learning how to do research through close interaction with faculty.
Throughout the summer institute, co-director of the institute and Bethel psychology professor Dwight Krehbiel said each student can choose to be involved in two of the six total program research areas, one that takes place in the morning and one in the afternoon.
Krehbiel said up to 12 students can be accommodated in each area.
Students are learning to distinguish conscious and unconscious attitudes, as well as how to design and implement empirical tools to measure and compare both attitude types in the research area entitled "Understanding and Measuring Attitudes."
In the "Play to Win" research area, students are studying game mechanics and strategies for winning, as well as discussing the ways to determine if a game is unfair, and analyzing games that include some randomness – as well as games where strategy alone determines the game's outcome.
In the "Biology in the Wild!" research area, students are conducting field-based exercises to test hypotheses about the natural world, as well as visiting local prairies, forests and aquatic habitats to make environmental measurements, conducting biodiversity surveys that focus on insects as key indicators of environmental health.
While exploring the "Nutritional Chemistry" research area, students are investigating the composition of various samples – for example, the metal and/or vitamin C content in organic foods as compared to nonorganic foods.
The "Molecular Genetics" research area is allowing students to acquire some hands-on experience while performing a variety of molecular techniques, such as DNA isolation, amplification of DNA target regions by means of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and visualization of DNA fragments via gel electrophoresis.
For the "Face Memory in the Brain" research area, students are measuring memory for faces among different groups of people, as well as how biases may arise from influences on visual memory. Brain electrical activity during memory processing, is also being studied.
Faculty leading the different research areas include Bethel alumnus and graduate student in the social psychology Ph.D. program at Indiana University Bradley Celestin, Bethel assistant professor of mathematics Lucas Kramer, Ph.D., Bethel professor of biology and institute co-director Jon Piper, Ph.D, Bethel associate professor of chemistry and physics Kathryn Layman, Ph.D, Bethel associate professor of biology Francisca Méndez-Harclerode, Ph.D., and Bethel alumna, as well as graduate student in cognitive neuroscience Ph.D. program, University of Texas-Austin, Guadalupe Gonzalez.
Several Bethel science students are also assisting the faculty during the workshops.
Krehbiel said this is the 18th year that Bethel has conducted the institute, which is not only for the purpose of highlighting Bethel's Science programs, but also to attract students to careers in the sciences and mathematics.
The summer institute has drawn a number of students from across the nation. In fact, Krehbiel said only three student have come from the Harvey County area.
While a lot of students have come from Wichita area, the institute has drawn visitors from the Kansas City area, Houston, Dallas, New Jersey, Virginia and Colorado.
Bethel's Summer Science Institute attracts students from across the nation, Krehbiel added, because the program has a listing in a large, nationally-based organization that introduces students to opportunities in science – referred to as Pathways to Science.
Overall, Krehbiel said 35 students are participating in this year's program.
While it is not always the case, a number of people throughout the years have transferred to Bethel after the institute. After completing presentations, Krehbiel said those participating in the program will receive one hour of college credit.
Krehbiel noted that a majority of the the money required for the institute is payed with funds donated by Bethel science and mathematics alumni, which makes it extremely affordable for the students. Each student only had to pay $50 to attend the academy.
"I think it's an interesting opportunity for students... this isn't a standard type of classroom activity," Krehbiel said. "They do hear the faculty talking about their work, but all of them are involved in doing their own scholarly work, so it's an introduction to college life in one sense, but it's also especially giving them a taste of what being a scholar in science and math is like."
In Krehbiel's experience, a lot of college students do not get a chance to do that, so the institute represents a unique opportunity.