Summer Camp Scholars Learn Sound Science
In the eighth summer of Eastside Audubon's camp scholarship program, the Youth Education Committee in July gave three girls a chance to learn skills future scientists will need to save Puget Sound.
At the Ground to Sound STEM Challenge Camp, the two sixth-graders and a 15-year-old camp mentor did field studies in the woods and waters around the Brightwater Environmental Center near Woodinville, learning to work in teams and use sophisticated laboratory equipment.
(STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math and is a focus for educators in Washington schools.)
Video of a STEM team at work, produced by the camp mentor Eastside Audubon sponsored. If you don't see the video link, please refresh this page. Story continues below.
Real Nature in a Real Place
The weeklong camp is designed to allow students to discover how systems work together in nature by giving them hands-on experience in an outdoor environment.
Reports from the two younger EAS-supported campers point to success. A sampling of their comments:
- "My favorite part of camp was working as a group and finding out that the challenges in science are incredibly interesting and happening all around us."
- "I am interested in stopping pollution the most."
- "I am now able to identify invasive species of plants."
Learning to Lead
For the EAS-supported mentor, a tenth-grader, the camp was a lesson in leadership. “I had to learn the hard heavy feeling of responsibility,” she wrote. “I had four children that I was entrusted with and I needed to keep them safe and [make sure] that they had the best camp days of their lives.”
(The YEC granted scholarships to five children in all, but two siblings were forced by illness to cancel. The committee is holding over the unused funds for next year’s program.)
Making the Future Possible
The EAS Youth Education Committee’s vision for the camp scholarship program is that campers will become stewards of the environment, said committee member Mary Britton-Simmons.
She commended Margaret Lie and Jill Keeney for their work reviewing scholarship candidates, selecting winners, and helping campers and their families with everything from paperwork to transportation.
Each year’s scholarship recipients are selected by the YEC based on recommendations from their teachers, their need as children of low income families, and their interest in the natural environment.
This is the first year the YEC has collaborated with the Ground to Sound STEM Challenge Camp.
Camp director John Schmied and registrar Marie Hartford are both teachers who received the EAS Environmentalist of the Year award in 2007 for their work to develop the Brightwater Education Center.