InnoWorks camp encourages young Slauson science learners

View a video of one morning of InnoWorks summer camp that included Slauson Middle School students:

From AAPSNews Service

Selected Slauson Middle School students got to design and play with Lego robots, create water-powered bottle rockets and do other hands-on activities in August during a free, weeklong summer science camp on the University of Michigan campus.

U-M InnoWorks Club members encourage middle school students during a hands-on summer camp in August. Slauson Middle School students took part. Here, students prepare to launch bottle rockets at Palmer Field on the U-M campus.

“Making Sense of Senses” was the theme for this year’s U-M InnoWorks Summer Camp in which students from Slauson and Lincoln Middle School participated. The camp is its third year and everything in the camp is either donated or funded by grants, organizers said.

“We try to make science fun – that’s the idea. We do as little classroom as possible,” said Eric Zhao, a third-year pharmacy graduate student who heads the U-M InnoWorks chapter.

Slauson eighth-grader Ma’kayla said the experience was wonderful and something she said would help her as she continues in school. Even some of the science exercises and projects tied in with her future career hopes. “I want to be a lawyer,” she explained.

Seventh-grade classmate Savannah agreed, saying she wants to do something involving crime scenes – like she sees on the television show CSI. A fingerprinting exercise proved fascinating to her.

InnoWorks started at Duke University and now has chapters around the country, including the 3-year-old U-M chapter. The program encourages middle school students to enter science, technology, engineering, math and medicine careers by sponsoring the free summer camp run by undergraduate and graduate students and previous campers who serve as mentors. In Ann Arbor, InnoWorks members approach area middle schools and work with students from schools that show an interest, Zhao said.

This is the first year an Ann Arbor middle school participated. Ypsilanti and Lincoln students took part in previous camps.

Those running the camp study myriad subjects – everything from business and economics to movement science majors like Lindsay Valeri who served as a camp mentor her first year and stayed to become a counselor. “Kids get really exited about it – they’re learning things,” she said. “I think it works really well.”

The U-M chapter is working “to show the community that there are students looking to make a difference in these hard economic times,” said Fiona Spezia, a biopsychology student and pre-physician assistant who is a U-M InnoWorks chapter board member.

“It’s a very rewarding experience being able to help students out,” said recent U-M graduate and counselor Shailesh Reddy. “This is a chance for them to experience a lot. It’s just about you motivating and wanting to help the kids.”

Visit online for more information about the InnoWorks Michigan chapter.

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