During summer break, some teenagers might object to learning complex topics in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). But as 15 middle-school girls learned at Regis University Science and Technology Camp (SciTech), studying computer code can involve bracelet-making and practicing physics may require constructing bridges — out of gumdrops.
“I’ve heard parents say that all their child could talk about all night long was what they did at camp,” said Quyen Hart, camp director and assistant professor of physics and astronomy at Regis. “Or they tell me they've never seen their child this alive — that school was really hard for them, but here they're having fun and wanting to come back.”
The all-girl camp in early July was the seventh go-round of SciTech, led annually by Hart and Trisha Litz, assistant professor in the College of Computer & Information Systems. Most of the campers came from minority and low-income backgrounds that are underrepresented in STEM fields.
“This camp really plays into the mission of the University in terms of supporting individuals who might be marginalized and might not have the means to have the same opportunities as other people,” Hart said.
Deploying hands-on learning methods — from fireworks and electrodes to DNA extraction and solar observation — the camp covered topics such as astronomy, neuroscience, chemistry and engineering. Aware of the importance of introducing students to STEM early, Hart and her team chose these topics to spark campers’ lifelong interest.
Various Regis professors joined Hart and Litz to lead camp sessions, and Regis students in STEM-related academic programs participated as camp counselors.
“The campers get exposure to what it's like to be in college, and they really enjoy hanging out with the college students,” Hart said. “Sometimes this might be the first time the campers ever set foot at a university.”
As in past years, Ball Aerospace professionals led an interactive lesson during the camp. This year, they left the campers on a high note with a final-day activity focused on robotics and programming.
Campers received a glimpse of the dynamic educational experience available within the Regis community.
“We have some amazing faculty who do a lot of research here, and we want to attract students who want to go into those fields,” Hart said. “I think one way that the University can attract those students is by being really supportive of younger students who are interested. You never know, those students might become Regis students who go on to do stellar work.”
Established in 1877, Regis University is a premier, globally engaged institution of higher learning in the Jesuit tradition that prepares leaders to live productive lives of faith, meaning and service. One of 27 Jesuit universities in the nation, Regis has four campus locations in the Denver metro area and Colorado Springs and extensive online program offerings with more than 11,000 enrolled students. For more information, visit www.regis.edu.