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Youngsters feast on science fare

Women in field lead by example
Andy Rice

A rotating selection of science camps has been keeping dozens of Powell River’s young minds busy this summer. Programs began in early July and have been receiving an overwhelmingly positive response from both participants and parents ever since.

A Science and Technology camp for children aged 10 and 11 and a Girls-n-science camp for young women between the age of eight and 11 alternate week-to-week with a Science and Engineering camp for six- to nine-year-olds. Activities take place daily at Oceanview Secondary School, where campers have full run of the gymnasium, commons and surrounding classrooms.

The week-long programs were developed by Rachelle Warman and her staff at Westwind Learning Center. Further input and assistance came from Jay Yule, School District 47 superintendent of schools, and Steve Hopkins, secretary-treasurer, who suggested science as the focus of the camps.

Once the theme was decided, summer camp coordinator Kaleena Johnston set to work assembling a plan for each day. Activities were designed to encompass and expand on much of the curriculum taught in science classrooms with a particular focus on hands-on experiments, field work, and of course plenty of fun.

“Obviously, we can’t cover everything that they’re learning in school in a year-long course,” said Johnston, “but each day is a different main topic and we try and do as many hands-on activities with the kids as possible to help supplement what they’re learning in schools and on worksheets we have.”

“You’ve probably got a core two hours’ worth of solid science work [in the classroom],” said Warman. “The rest is doing games and activities, getting outside or doing fun team-building exercises. The goal was to provide a service that hasn’t been done before and to provide education in a fun, encouraging and motivational way.”

In keeping along the lines of encouragement and motivation, girls have a camp all their own called Girls-n-science. Two groups have already experienced the week of activities with another set to participate mid-August. Over the past month, campers enjoyed a host of activities that included a walk on Duck Lake Road trail, visits from a pharmacist and a doctor, as well as a field trip to Catalyst Paper Corporation Powell River Division for a tour of the facilities with the mill’s energy manager, Jennifer Mercer.

Each of the guest speakers shares something in common. They are all women enjoying successful careers in the field of science, something both Warman and Johnston agree is a major confidence boost for participants.

“It’s a way to encourage, to give confidence to young girls, to say that it is possible and that there are lots of opportunities out there for them in science,” said Warman.

“From a younger girl’s perspective, you don’t necessarily see the opportunities for women,” added Johnston. “That’s what our goal of this camp in particular is—really opening the girls up to realizing that there are a whole bunch of different areas in science that they can get involved with.”

For more information on summer science camps available this August, interested readers can call 604.485.5090.