Student campers look for solutions Pupils spending summer studying math, science

August 01, 1996|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Instead of soaking in the warm rays of the sun and hanging out at the local mall this summer, Erica Lloyd is mixing baking powder with acids and bases at Anne Arundel Community College.

"I didn't want to waste my summer sitting around," said the 14-year-old eighth-grader at George Fox Middle School. "I wanted to come here and become more knowledgeable."

Erica and about 75 other county middle and high school students spent two weeks of their summer vacation at one of three math and science summer camps at the community college.

Nearly 150 students have signed up to learn about geometry and chemistry through creative, cooperative activities. The camps, which are free, began July 8 and will end Aug. 15.

The students are given math and science problems to solve. But rather than write their answers on paper, students are encouraged to mix chemicals and use instruments to show how they got their answers.

Tiffany Smith, a 14-year-old ninth-grader at North County High School, mixed baking powder with a vial of lemon juice. To the delight of Tiffany and the rest of the pupils, the solution immediately bubbled to the top.

"The baking soda neutralizes the acid," teacher Valery McCue said. "That's why, when your stomach is not feeling so well, you take an antacid."

"I like [this] because you get to do a lot of experiments, and it's fun doing it," Tiffany said.

The camp is co-sponsored by a number of organizations, including AmeriCorps, Educational Talent Search, the National Science Center, Fort Meade and the Military District of Washington.

James T. Jackson, the summer program coordinator for AmeriCorps, said the mission of the camps can be boiled down to three words: attitude, attendance and achievement.

"The key thing is that the attitude toward school improves with these types of hands-on activities," Jackson said. "There are no videos, there are no lectures. We also want to improve their attendance at school and, hopefully, college by lowering their anxiety toward math and science. And their achievement will show when they go into a class. Hopefully, they'll get higher grades because they already have a familiarity with math and science."

Dianne F. Graham, a civilian school liaison officer at Fort Meade, said the base became involved after officials realized that their summer camps for children in the Fort Meade feeder system were very similar to the camps being run at the community college.

"Rather than do separate camps, we decided to do it together," Graham said. "The community college [camp] gives the children a chance to come to a college setting and take part in a fuller program."

The students also took a field trip to Washington to the National Geographic Society's Explorers Hall and the National Museum of Health and Medicine, where they touched human organs. "It was disgusting," said Nadja Scott, 13, an eighth-grader at Brooklyn Park-Lindale Middle School.

"It was great," countered her friend Evette Jenkins, a 15-year-old ninth-grader at North County. "I want to be a doctor, and nothing is going to change my mind now."

Many of the students said they hoped to pursue careers in math or science. Bayne Brown, a 14-year-old ninth-grader at the Severn School, said he wants to be either a professional athlete or a science teacher. "I had fun learning it," he said. "I can teach it, too."

Pub Date: 8/01/96

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