science 2By: Martin Kamela

After a short break for the end of school year exams, the CRHP Science Center is buzzing with activity once again, as the summer enrichment courses for 10th-12th grade students have begun. The goal of the CRHP Science Center is to promote inquiry-based, hands-on learning. This complements what students experience in school, where classes are generally quite large, cover a wide breadth of material, and consist of very few, if any, laboratory activities in the sciences. At the CRHP Science Center, students focus on an in-depth understanding of related topics, explored in the laboratory setting. Classes are kept small and instructors guide the students as they learn through practice. Students discuss what they learn and make presentations to their colleagues in the program.

The classes, sponsored by CRHP and Elon University, are free for students. The program was announced to area schools in February and garnered significant interest from students. Students applied to the program in March and were selected based on their interests and availability; the whole summer program filled up within just one week of collecting applications. Now, for a week at a time, students participate in in-depth practical explorations of one of the following topics:

1. The Robotics course focuses on programming Lego Mindstroms robots to perform specified tasks. Students work in small groups to explore how their robots respond to computer commands and how various sensors help the robot navigate terrain.

2. In the Physics course, students use sensors, data loggers, and a camera to analyze various aspects of movement, including Newton’s Laws of Motion. At the end of this course, students perform their own experiments and make presentations to their peers.

3. The Biology course focuses on using microscopy techniques to explore various aspects of plant and animal structure. Students prepare plant sections and microscope slides, and learn how to use dyes. As part of this course, students also visit Julia Hospital to look at modern medical equipment and better understand the practical applications of biology.

4. In the Chemistry course, students spend one week practicing techniques of organic chemistry. From laboratory safety to relatively complex techniques, students gain a sense of the art of experimental work in chemistry.

5. The Computer courses are delayed due to lack of funds to purchase computers for the Science Center computer lab. We are hoping to raise a sufficient amount to be able to start the program soon. If we are successful, the Science Center will offer two versions of the computer course. One is an introduction to using computer applications, such as spreadsheets, presentations, designing websites, and using on-line resources. The other is an introduction to Java programming, a modern computer language especially useful for creating online applications. Both courses teach logical thinking and problem-solving skills, in addition to the respective content. Once we have the computers, we will be able to offer an enriching experience to rural students from the Jamkhed area and promote general computer literacy.

So far, the new courses have received wonderful student feedback, with 95% of students saying that they liked the course and 95% hoping to take another course at the Science Center.

In addition to this eight-week summer program, which focuses on older students, CRHP hosts a school-year program for younger students, who visit the CRHP Science Center with their class and teacher.

If you’d like to donate to the CRHP Science Center, please follow this link. ( Please be sure to enter the words “Science Center” in the notes section so your donation will be distributed accordingly. Science, technology, and computer skills are an absolute necessity to enter the modern job market. By donating your hard-earned funds, you’ll be giving local children educational opportunities that will support a future income, an informed society, and help fight against local poverty.

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