After his retirement to the Eastern Shore, Paul Popick sought opportunities to volunteer his time as a tutor in math and science. One of the organizations he contacted was Talbot Mentors. Paul and Talbot Mentors soon saw an opportunity to hold a summer science camp. Paul recruited other scientists and established a week-long summer camp with a focus biology, chemistry, physics, and computer science. This summer, the program celebrated its fourth year with two week-long consecutive camps, the first for boy students and the second for girl students, with a focus on science.
The other scientists who donated their time for the summer camps were Dr Bill Bailey, Dr Steve Benz, Dr Lou Codispoti, Dr Giulia Franchi, Dr Paul Gilmore, Dr Lynne McGrath, Dr Elizabeth North, Dr Sarah Wesolowski and Dr Dale Whalen. Many of the scientists who participated are from our Talbot County community and several scientists are professors at Salisbury University.
Eleven boys, one eighth grader and middle schoolers, attended the first camp and nine girls, one fifth grader, two sixth graders, three seventh graders and two ninth graders, attended the second camp. At each camp, all students were exposed to experiential learning. In the morning, they worked on an experiment with a scientist and in the afternoons the students worked on their own projects. For each experiment, they followed the scientific method. Experiments included food testing, water testing, digital circuits, organic compounds, phosphoresce and static forces. Heady stuff for the students and they were soon hooked on science!
The students chose their own projects including Raspberry Pi kits, Robot assembly and programming, or Rocket assembly and nose cone design experiments. Five of the students chose the Raspberry Pi and they completed six or seven of the projects described in the kit. Two of the students also went on to develop a Python program for a Rock Paper Scissors game.
In addition to the daily sessions with the scientists, each camp included a field trip. The boys’ camp went to the Smithsonian Environment Research Center in Edgewater Maryland where they divided into teams to study blue crabs. They also built a hydraulic arm that mimics the blue crab arm and also got some hands on experience collecting samples at the SERC by seining with nets. The girls’ camp went to the University of Maryland Environmental Research Center at Horn Point and their visit was hosted by Dr Elizabeth North. The girls had the opportunity to work with Dr. North on one of the experiments she is conducting that is part of her research project. Dr. North also led them on a tour of other laboratories at Horn Point including the oyster hatchery where the women scientists explained their research and some of the equipment in the laboratory.
At the end of the week the students developed science fair posters describing their experience and the experiments they did with the scientists. Parents and Mentors came to the science fair where the kids described and demonstrated their projects. of the students programmed robots to autonomously run two times around an oval track, simulate a pit stop and then stop where the robots and started on the track. Two of the girls built rockets and then launched them four times to evaluate different nose cone shapes to determine which nose cone was the most aerodynamic. Other students assembled a Raspberry Pi microcomputer kit and then did various programming and digital electronics experiments to learn computer science basics. Their favorite Raspberry Pi projects were programs that created drum sounds and a rock paper scissors computer game.
Kudos to Paul and his fellow scientists for donating their time to the Talbot Mentees who will hopefully continue their interest in science!
For more information about Talbot Mentors, contact Jazmine Gibson at 410-770-5999, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website www.talbotmentors.org.
Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.