It is summer and school's out. But for some Harford high school students a science-awareness program is in.
The weeklong program combines field trips with hands-on experience and gives students a chance to explore areas of science that interest them.
Is there life beyond the solar system as we know it, or a planet waiting to be found in some distant galaxy?
Wanda Gee thinks so, and she wants to discover it. Wanda, 15, has had plenty of opportunities to learn more about science, thanks to the Summer Science Awareness Program offered to minority students last week through Harford Community College.
"Science is my favorite subject. I like doing experiments, and I like to make things blow up," said Wanda, who will be in the 10th grade at Aberdeen High School in the fall.
Wanda said she wants to be a chemist or a chemical engineer and also would like to study astronomy.
"I think I can discover something new," she said.
Wanda was one of 16 students about to enter 10th grade at Havre de Grace High School and Aberdeen High School, who attended the weeklong session on environmental science.
A similar program that focused on chemistry was held for 20 ninth-grade students the week before at the college.
The programs are sponsored through Harford Community College and Harford County Public Schools, the Chemical Industry for Minority Engineering Inc. in Philadelphia, a non-profit organization with the mission of getting more minority students interested in the sciences. Two local corporations, J. M. Huber Corp. and American Cyanamid, both of Havre de Grace, were also sponsors of the program.
There is no cost to the student, and transportation, supplies and lunch are provided.
Linda M. Parker, HCC's minority recruiter, said programs like this one are essential if more minority students are going to become involved in the sciences.
Ms. Parker said the program gets students to think about careers in science, and at the same time, "serves to inspire minority kids to stay in schools."
Frederick Merritt, 15, got to take biology last year at Aberdeen High School instead of earth science like most other ninth-graders. He said the environmental sciences program at HCC expanded his scientific knowledge because of the experiments he did.
Frederick said he is determined to go to college but is not sure what he wants to study.
TH Program participants took field trips to local industries, including
Aberdeen Proving Ground, and several environmental sites. They also got hands-on experience conducting some experiments at HCC laboratories.
Kaye Starnes, director of community services at HCC, said the program gives students a chance to see the possibilities for well-paying jobs in their own community.
"It also shows the students what it takes to be part of those jobs," she said.