Day Camp Exposes Students to Science Activities and Science Careers

June 2014

Twenty-five enthusiastic sixth, seventh, and eighth graders from Cuba Middle School, Lybrook Middle School, and Coronado Middle School spent a week of their summer vacation at Science Summer Day Camp this past June.  The Science Summer Day Camp was held at Cuba Middle School as a result of the partnering efforts of dedicated teachers, community members, and the Science Education Partnership (SEPA) project of the University of New Mexico’s Prevention Research Center.  The camp was made possible by the hard work of Mr. Hartom, CISD Superintendent, Mr. Gary Hoodless and Ms. Marylou Gooris of Cuba Middle School, Ms. Darlene Chiquito of Lybrook Middle School, and Ms. Delia Leonida of Coronado Middle School.

Additionally, three undergraduate students, originally from New Mexico who are now study at NMSU in Las Cruces, St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX, and Georgetown University in Washington D.C. joined the students and teachers for summer camp.  The three students were spending the summer working at the University of New Mexico as part of the Undergraduate Pipeline Network, a summer research experience for students who are interested in working in the health sciences in the future.  It was great to see the mentorship between the college students and the middle school students: all students enjoyed their time together learning from one another.

Students began Science Summer Day Camp by enjoying a day at Clear Creek campgrounds.  Students hiked, investigated the natural world, and collected water from the creek and leaf litter from the forest floor.  The next day, teachers guided students to create microscope slides from their water and leaf samples.  The campers became experts at using microscopes as they observed their slides - including moving micro-organisms from the water samples.

On the third day of camp, students were able to get their hands dirty at the Cuba Community Garden where USDA extension agent Jill Mumford and local grower Walter McQuie taught about worms, soil, and plants.  Each camper could apply the science of agriculture at home with the squash plants and mint they took home at the end of the day.

On the fourth day of camp, students learned about health careers from Cuba’s Emergency Medical Technicians Myra Sande and Theresa Lowery and retired public health nurse Joanne Hughes.  The middle schoolers practiced CPR with the American Red Cross and used stethoscopes, reflex hammers, and otoscopes with the help of two medical students from the University of New Mexico.

On the last day of camp, the Fractal Foundation, an Albuquerque non-profit, came to Cuba to explain to campers Fractals – the intricate mathematical patterns which form all of nature around us: including the patterns which create tree branches, the stars of the Universe, and the matter in our brains!  Students then used a free computer software (Xaos, available at fractalfoundation.org) to design their own unique fractal T-shirts.

Be sure to thank the teachers, parents, and community members who supported the community’s youth with their time, energy, enthusiasm, and ideas!  They sure are making a difference in the lives of youth in Cuba, Lybrook, and Gallina.

Prevention Research Center

The mission of the (UNM) Prevention Research Center (PRC) is to address the health promotion and disease prevention needs of New Mexican communities through participatory, science-based, health promotion and disease prevention research. We fulfill this mission through collaboration, training, dissemination and evaluation activities.