‘Sciencepalooza!’ Brings YMCA/YWCA Summer Campers to Pitt for Fun with Bones, Microscopes, and More
PITTSBURGH, Aug. 9 – The 230 students running around campus on Friday, August 9, weren’t attending classes at the University of Pittsburgh. But because of the fun they had at Pitt on Friday, many of the youngsters might consider pursuing a career in the sciences – once they finish high school.
“Sciencepalooza!”, a day-long camp designed to show kids the value and excitement of science, was born out of a collaboration between the PittScienceOutreach program, which is part of Pitt’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), and local chapters of the YMCA and YWCA. During the event, campers will visit four stations where they get to perform different hands-on scientific activities.
“This event is as much fun for the scientists who put it together as it is for the kids,” said Judy Cameron, Ph.D., director of science outreach for Pitt’s CTSI. “We love watching them ask and answer questions, make discoveries, and enjoy learning. Positive experiences like this could inspire them to become the researchers of the future.”
What happens when science meets football? That's the question the Pitt Science Outreach Program is answering this year as it brings the Mobile Science Lab to each Pitt Football tailgate outside of Heinz Field. Along with live entertainment, a giant video wall, game day food, and games, the "World’s Largest Family Tailgate" will feature cool, hands-on science activities for kids of all ages designed to teach about exciting research findings discovered by Pitt scientists. At the "Balancing Act" station, participants can test their balance and learn how the ears help in controlling balance, how to improve balance and the importance of balance in healthy aging. In addition, participants can get the opportunity to construct a biodegradable nerve guide in the "Regenerative Medicine" station, which introduces new innovations discovered at Pitt that are promoting nerve regeneration after spinal cord injury.
Amid kickball, sing-alongs and arts and crafts, some young Pittsburgh day campers enjoyed the unique opportunity of welcoming science into their summer fun. That’s because this summer, the YMCA in Wilmerding hosted a new program on “sustained” science learning, developed by the University of Pittsburgh Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) Pitt Science Outreach program. The goals of this six-week session, taught by an eclectic team of professors, professionals, teachers, graduate and undergraduate students, were to develop a lasting relationship with kids, promoting them to follow a pathway toward further science education. This summer, the sustained science outreach program focused on the "Science of Nutrition and Exercise." Kids met faculty from the Pitt departments of Biology, Chemistry, Cardiology, Psychiatry, Neuroscience, Sports Medicine and Nutrition and Health and Physical Exercise. They learned about how plants take up nutrients from the soil, that food exhibits chemical properties, how exercise improves heart and brain function and why thoughtful nutrition and regular exercise can support healthy living.
In the summer, hundreds of campers in a field normally means exercise and fun. For day campers at the East Suburban and Wilmerding YMCAs this August, it also meant scientific discovery. On August 8th, the Pitt Science Outreach program ran a "Field Day for Science" introducing campers to science in a "positive and unconventional environment," as reported by the Plum-Oakmont Patch. Through experiments and field games, the children learned about the science behind healthy exercise and nutrition, how water and salts move in solution (using gummy bears) and why we need the microorganisms living in and on our bodies. "Having fun with science is a very effective way of teaching kids that science affects all parts of our lives," said Judy Cameron, director of the outreach program. The Wilmerding YMCA hopes that "Field Day for Science" can expand in the summer of 2013 to include many more YMCAs.
This semester is up and running -- in addition to adjusting to a new class schedule, it's time to get involved in student activities, clubs and volunteer opportunities. The Pitt Science Outreach Program offers Pitt students a full spectrum of outreach opportunities designed to educate the public about the importance of science in the community. The goals of the Pitt Science Outreach Program are to promote a broader appreciation of science and inspire future scientists. The program seeks to teach about the impact of scientific discovery in people’s everyday lives, engage kids in scientific exploration and foster public comfort with the process of scientific research. Pitt student volunteers can help teach labs on the Pitt Mobile Science Lab, deliver lectures at local schools, help provide hands-on scientific activities at many different community events. ‘Get Involved’ today!