a better mousetrap is hard enough. But building a better mousetrap
Casey Boss tried to do just that recently as
part of The University of Southern Mississippi's Summer Science
Camp 2005. With a determined look on her face, the 15- year-old
from Gulfport sawed pieces of wood for a rodent-clamping hotrod
that her team hopes can crush the competition at a race scheduled
The showdown to see which group's car will travel
the fastest and the farthest is one of the many hands-on activities
planned for the 93 participants at the summer camp.
Led by faculty members of Southern Miss' College
of Science and Technology, the group of Mississippi fourth- through
10th-graders are getting a crash course in physics, biology, chemistry,
forensics, polymer science, ecology, microbiology, math, geology
"It's been fun because we don't usually
get to do this in regular school," said Boss, who attends Harrison
"We have learned about recycling and what
different types of plastic to burn and what to not burn because
different fumes could be harmful to the environment. We also went
to a pond and scooped up pond water then went to the microscope
and put them on slides where we got a chance to see the different
Boss has also learned how to make slime and
nylon, collect and process water samples from area water supplies,
and has gotten an opportunity to canoe during a field trip to Brooklyn's
Registration costs to attend the camp included:
a $150 fee for children entering grades four through six, $399 for
those in grades seven through 10, and a nonrefundable fee of $25
per registration form. The cost for the older kids is higher because
they get the perks of living on campus.
Some of the students are able to participate
in the camp, which began on June 12 and ends June 24, thanks to
scholarships provided by GEAR UP Mississippi.
The program, mostly funded through a grant from
the U.S. Department of Education, gives educational support services
to school districts facing socioeconomic challenges, boost graduation
rates and higher education enrollment rates.
"What they do (GEAR UP Mississippi) is
offer mini grants in the state for summer camps, which is part of
their focus," said Aimee Lee, camp organizer and Southern Miss
instructor for the department of biological sciences. "The
whole purpose is to get these kids, who otherwise wouldn't have
an opportunity, immersed in a college setting."
Lee said many science professors, instructors
and graduate students were just as stoked about the camp as the
kids were, many of them jumping at the chance to produce activities
that would provide participants with an educational and memorable
One of those eager to share her knowledge was Southern Miss biological
sciences graduate student Sarah Wheeless. "I just wanted them
to know that science pretty much involves everything that they do,"
Lee said she plans to make the camp an annual
event. For more information on Summer Science Camp 2005, please
contact Aimee Lee at (601) 266-4748.