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‘Sciencepalooza!’ Brings YMCA and YWCA Summer Campers to Pitt for Fun with Bones, Microscopes and More

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 9, 2013 – The 400 students running around campus today won’t be attending classes at the University of Pittsburgh this fall. But because of the fun they have today, many of the youngsters might consider pursuing a career in the sciences – once they finish high school.
“Sciencepalooza!,” a day-long camp designed to show kids the value and excitement of science, was born out of a collaboration between the Pitt Science Outreach Program, which is part of Pitt’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), and local chapters of the YMCA and YWCA. During the event, campers will visit four stations where they’ll get to perform different hands-on scientific activities.
“This event is as much fun for the scientists who put it together as it is for the kids,” said Judy Cameron, Ph.D., director of science outreach for Pitt’s CTSI. “We love watching them ask and answer questions, make discoveries, and enjoy learning. Positive experiences like this could inspire them to become the researchers of the future.”
Kids entering fourth through eighth grade will choose from activities that include identifying bones for forensic study; discovering angular momentum with gyroscopes; learning about fossil fuel exploration and alternative energy development; and examining micro-organisms and bio-magnification. Community partners such as the Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP) will present the history of air quality in Pittsburgh with an asthma simulation, and the Pittsburgh Glass Center will teach campers about the viscosity of glass.
Kindergarten through third grade-campers can visit a mock grocery store, spin the nutrition fruit and vegetable wheel to answer questions, toss beanbags in the “Snack Land and Snack Attack Toss,” explore fruit and vegetable mystery boxes, contort themselves in fruit and vegetable twister, play the portion distortion/calorie wheel, and build “Betsy’s bones,” all activities that will teach them principles of nutrition and exercise science.
Scott Heasley, executive director of the Wilmerding YMCA, said, “We are thrilled to be working with the Pitt Science Outreach Program again this summer to offer our campers valuable exposure to engage in science activities.”
“We are excited to build on our YW Homewood-Brushton Community Center’s emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, programming for youth,” said Magdeline E. Jensen, chief executive officer, YWCA Greater Pittsburgh. “The opportunity to partner with the Pitt Science Outreach Program opens new doors of discovery – in both science and careers – for our campers.”
This summer the extended educational program was offered at an additional four YMCA and one YWCA program locations: the Hazelwood YMCA, the Thelma Lovette YMCA, the Homewood-Brushton YWCA, the Collegiate YMCA, and the YMCA summer camp delivered in Irwin. In 2012, the Pitt Science Outreach Program reached more than 10,000 people in the region.

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