Science-U summer camps inspire future scientists

Tara Immel
June 14, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — What do disease transmission, water conservation, crime scene investigation, LEGO robotics and science leadership all have in common? Science summer camp! From June 19 through Aug. 5, the Penn State Eberly College of Science’s summer camp program, Science-U, will host hundreds of campers from grades 2-12 in its 15 different science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) camps.

These summer camps, which are typically each a weeklong experience, challenge students to work hands-on to creatively solve science problems. Campers learn STEM skills that are taught by student mentors and faculty through meaningful, relevant and thought-provoking methods. The science programs offered, which are designed by STEM faculty, are written to make science fun, engaging and exciting, and also focus on things students are motivated to learn about, such as the science of toys or creatures in their backyards. Campers not only spend five days learning science in an enjoyable way, but they also realize by the end of the week that science is everywhere. Additionally, campers have the opportunity to see Penn State research laboratories, work alongside faculty and student mentors, and get excited about science in their everyday lives.

“Our chief goals are to educate and inspire students, encourage critical thinking, and prepare them to become responsible, skilled and caring citizens, as well as capable scientists and teachers when faced with tomorrow’s challenges,” said Michael Zeman, director of outreach in the Eberly College of Science.

While all of the camps have unique elements and different STEM learning experiences, Science-U is offering an extraordinary opportunity this summer at the Finding Your Roots camp, a two-week experience offered from June 19 to July 1 for grades 6-8. Inspired by the popular PBS program developed by Henry Louis Gates Jr., this camp will use a personal genetic and genealogical approach to encourage students to consider their personal biology and health, the science of evolutionary changes that affect all species, and the personal traditions and habits that are a result of geographic place, familial membership, and time. During the camp, participants will use technology — like FitBits and iPads — and their own DNA to learn about their ancestry and traits that make them completely unique but still just like everyone else.

“Finding Your Roots camp is ground-breaking because the content is personalized to each camper, and it also asks a funded research question within a youth program. The investigators are curious to know if learning more about your genetic background and personal biological heritage prompts interest in STEM career pathways, particularly in marginalized and underrepresented youth,” Zeman said.

Although Finding Your Roots and some of the other camps are already full for the summer, there are still several that have spots available, including:

  • Infection! — June 20-24 for students entering grades 9-12.
  • Wizards, Olympians, and Science Heroes — July 18-22 for students entering grades 2-4.
  • Kinesiology: The Limits of Human Performance — July 25-29 for students entering grades 9-12.
  • Science Leadership: The Elements of Innovation — July 31 to Aug. 5 for students entering grades 10-12.

Visit for more camp information and registration for this summer. Summer 2017 camp registration begins in December 2016.

Last Updated June 17, 2016