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Pitt’s CTSI Brings Kids, Science Together at ‘Field Day for Science’

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 6, 2012 – In the summer, hundreds of campers in a field normally means exercise and fun. For many Pittsburgh-area campers this month, it also means scientific discovery.
That’s because on Aug. 8 at the East Suburban YMCA in Plum, Pa., about 300 summer day campers from the East Suburban and the Wilmerding YMCAs will participate in “Field Day for Science,” an outdoor program designed to expose kids to science in a positive, unconventional environment.
Born out of collaboration between the YMCAs and the University of Pittsburgh Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), “Field Day for Science” will feature an introduction to a diversity of scientific concepts. When campers are not playing field games, they will learn from CTSI education facilitators about the science behind healthy exercise and nutrition, how water and salts move in solution and why we need the microorganisms living in and on our bodies.
These science activities emphasize “discovery learning,” in which participants generate their own scientific questions and answers.  Some activities will use the Pitt Mobile Science Lab, an 80-foot-long 18-wheeler retrofitted as a state-of-the-art laboratory.
“We are thrilled to serve as host for ‘Field Day for Science’ and provide our campers with an engaging program that hopefully will spur a greater interest in science,” said Ben Raible, East Suburban’s director of youth development.
Judy Cameron, Ph.D., a psychiatry professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and director of the CTSI Science Outreach team, added, “We hope the program will give campers confidence that they can participate in science so they will be more likely to take science classes in the future.”
“Field Day for Science” won’t be the first time a Pitt-YMCA collaboration will brighten young people’s attitudes toward science. Not only has the Science Outreach team piloted an extended educational program with the Wilmerding YMCA throughout July, but so far this summer, CTSI also has reached YMCAs in Southmoreland and the Hill District and is scheduled to visit the Oakland YMCA later this month.
With the mission of promoting appreciation of science in the Pittsburgh community, the CTSI Science Outreach team hopes to further build its relationship with the YMCA system. That said, CTSI’s community presence extends far beyond local YMCAs. In 2011, CTSI outreach programs visited 29 schools and 35 community events in the greater western Pennsylvania region, reaching a total of 8,270 people.

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