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Students find that math and science can be fun

by Gail Marsh


(June 23) Doddridge County Middle School student Danna Towner likes to study science.

The 12-year-old likes it so well that she's giving up a week of her summer vacation to spend time in the lab and on field trips to learn more about the world of science.

Towner is one of 14 students from Doddridge, Harrison, Ritchie and Monongalia counties who signed up for Salem-Teikyo University's 1998 Summer Science, Math and Computer Camp, held this week at the school's Salem campus.

"We want to give the kids a fun experience with science and math that they probably won't be able to get in the traditional classroom setting," said Robin Hensel, assistant professor in math and computer sciences at S-TU and coordinator of the program.

The students applied for the camp through their home schools. They were required to write an essay on their interest in science and what they hoped to learn.

Hensel said the students will spend the week getting some hands-on experience to help them understand how science is used in everyday life.

"They get to do everything from learning chemistry and biology concepts to launching a rocket, to visiting the Carnegie Science Center," Hensel said.

Towner worked with her lab partner, Catherine Walsh, 13, from Bridgeport Middle School Monday afternoon in the chemistry lab at Carlson Hall.

They started with a powder and water and took it through mixing, dissolving, filtering, heating and cooling until the original product transformed into a crude form of acetaminophen, simple Tylenol.

"I've never done anything like this before. I just hope it goes right," Walsh said, as waited to finish the process.

Towner said she would like to work as a scientist when she grows up.

"Doing something like this is pretty cool. I would like to do what we are doing right now," she said.

Students will take a field trip Tuesday to Mid-America Glass Plant in Ellenboro and will head to the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh on Thursday.

Tessie Berkshire, 13, from Suncrest Middle School, who attended last year, said the trip to Pittsburgh is her favorite activity.

"The camp is a good way to meet new people and do some science-related stuff," she said.

On Friday, the instructors will talk with the students and their parents about careers in science and academic choices.

"At this age, they are ready to start looking at what classes they should take in high school to prepare them for college. This week of camp will give them exposure to a number of career choices," Hensel said.