Summer of Science
Over 100 students participated in five summer camps with the Andrews Institute for Mathematics and Science Education, building potato clocks, sorting invertebrates from creek water and running erosion experiments on sand. The Institute held four camps for local third through twelfth graders, as well as a three-week Math, Science & Language (MSL) camp for English language learners (ELLs) and a two week professional development workshop for Fort Worth ISD teachers. The Institute has been able to offer these camps free of charge thanks to the generous support of Paul and Judy Andrews.
The camps are one of the many reasons the Andrews Institute was selected for the second time as an exemplary STEM Center, highlighted in a video at the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) conference.
The summer camps remain a success, with 16 students returning from last year, and nine students attending more than one camp. The Institute encourages students to take responsibility for what they learn and how they learn. Three camps are focused on environmental issues and the chemistry, geology and ecology of the local Trinity Watershed.
“We wanted our students to realize that they are citizen scientists,” Andrews Institute Director Dr. Molly Weinburgh said. “The students learn how to monitor something and for us since we’re on the Trinity River, it makes sense to learn about water.”
Science Education doctoral graduates Jenesta Nettles ’16 and Kelly Feille ’14 taught the classes this year, which included field trips to local creeks and experiments revealing human impact on water.
“The students come in, they explore the watershed, then talk about what interested them in the watershed.” Nettles said. “By Wednesday the students are taking over. They’re learning more about what interests them, how they want to learn it. Then they’re sharing it.”
The MSL camp helped students learning English learn how to communicate math and science concepts. Fifty-two students from the International Newcomers School and the World Languages Institute spent time in groups and created final projects, choosing photos from the camp and describing the action.
“Science is an excellent way to help students learn English. In addition, mathematical understanding is important and symbols and how you communicate that in science is important,” Dr. Cecilia Silva said. She supports the MSL camp as well as the workshop for FWISD teachers.
“Fort Worth is a resettlement area; we have a huge population of non-English speakers,” Dr. Weinburgh said. “The Andrews Institute with FWISD have partnered … doing what we currently believe to be the best integration to help these children learn science as they learn the language that it’s going to be taught and tested in, which is English.”
The Andrews Institute will offer more free Saturday camps in the fall.
Read more about the Andrews Institute summer camps in the TCU Magazine.