STEM Honors Campers Diving into Math, Science and More at Columbus State

COLUMBUS, Ga. Twenty-two  of the most promising high school juniors and seniors in Georgia and Alabama are living at Columbus State University over the next two weeks as they participate in a jam-packed agenda of learning activities at CSU’s first-ever STEM Honors Camp.

The camp’s participants, who moved into main campus student apartments on Sunday, will learn about careers in STEMscience, technology, engineering and mathematicsthrough research, field trips, hands-on activities, lectures and more. Funded by Pratt and Whitney, the Society of American Military Engineers, Texas Instruments and Cott Beverages, the camp is free to selected participants. The camp is also supported by a team of seven Columbus State students working as interns. The interns are paid from a National Science Foundation grant and by CSU’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center in hopes some of them will consider teaching in a STEM field.

“We’re excited about the opportunities that this camp presents, both for these gifted students and Columbus State,” said grant administrator Tim Howard, math professor and director of CSU’s Math and Science Learning Center. “More than anything, we want these teenagers to be aware of all the career and higher education paths available to them in these areas. We expect their experiences in astronomy, biology, chemistry, computer science and mathematics to be unlike any they have had in the past.”

More than 600 high schools in Georgia and Alabama were invited to nominate up to two rising juniors and seniors to participate in the STEM Honors Camp. Organizers then chose participants from the nominees. The two-week camp is one of several efforts by Columbus State designed to address the shortage of qualified teachers in STEM fields, both in Georgia and nationally.

Each of the high school students will be assigned to a small group that will do research guided by Columbus State faculty, staff and interns. Camp projects will be conducted in chemistry, growth of cancer cells, digital image processing, genetic algorithms, solar imaging and water quality.

Columbus-area corporations and other entities that rely on STEM research will also host the students, including Pratt and Whitney, Kodak, Columbus Water Works, Bayer MaterialScience and Cott Beverages. The students will also spend time at CSU’s Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center and Coca-Cola Space Science Center. At CCSSC, students will have a front-row seat as the center hosts an international webcast related to Tuesday’s Transit of Venus, with the help of reports from CCSSC staff in Australia, the Gobi Desert in Mongolia and Bryce Canyon in Utah.

The camp, which CSU plans to offer annually for the life of its five-year grant, is a key component in the Columbus Region Academy of Future Teachers of STEM, funded by a $1.2 million NSF grant. CRAFT-STEM complements the UTeach Columbus program, started through a 2011 federal grant of $1.4 million as part of the U.S. Department of Education Race to the Top program.

For more information on the STEM Honors Camp and other components of CSU’s new emphasis, visit http://ColumbusState.edu/UTeach.

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