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Science camp provides W.Va. kids hands-on science experience

On July 18, 2012

While many of their peers are spending their summers at the pool or playing X-box, over 100 ninth-grade students from all across West Virginia took a break from the normal summer leisure activities to broaden their knowledge and love of science.

Running from July 15-20, this years Fun With Science Health Science and Technology Academy (HSTA) Summer Institute introduces young minds to the wonders of various career opportunities in medicine.

We expose the kids to science experiments, what it means to be doctors, to be scientists, David Cartwright, program director, said. They do lots of fun activities. We not only introduce them to scientific principles and research techniques, but we also expose them to Marshall as well. They get to stay in the dorms and check out various campus buildings and activities.

HSTA operates in 26 counties in West Virginia. Its goal is to promote science in minority and underrepresented students. Cartwright said the key to making this happen is catching kids while they are young.

The sooner we expose kids to science and math we think they better they are at choosing one of them for a career, Cartwright said. The way HSTA does this is actively keeping them engaged throughout high school. Ninety-seven percent of those students go on to college and complete their bachelors degree.

It also helps that HSTA is comprised of many students, who even at 14-years-old, know exactly what they want to do when they grow up.

I want to be a pediatric cardiology, Logan Kidd, a ninth-grader from McDowell County said seriously. When I was in the hospital I had a (heart) transplant. There was no one there that could even come close to knowing what I was going through. It makes it a lot easier if you meet someone whos gone through it and lived and I want to one day be that for someone its a great motivator.

Kidd and his fellow science lovers have conducted a number of experiments during the camp, but he said one sticks out as his favorite.

Ive learned so much so far, Kidd said. But the thing Ive enjoyed the most is suturing a pigs foot.

Which apparently was the favorite activity for multiple camp participants.

Working with pigs feet cutting them up and sewing them back together was so interesting, Samantha Maumbe, a ninth-grader from Morgantown. I liked it the most because it was hands-on and not just another lecture.

Like Kidd, Maumbe also wants to work with kids one day.

I want to go to medical school to be a pediatrician, Maumbe said. I just love being with kids and I feel that being in this program will help me reach that goal. I am having so much fun here. Ive met a lot of new people. I am usually shy, but Ive gained a lot of confidence.

While Maumbes ambition of being a pediatrician is to be admired, it is perhaps her choice of university that really shows just how ambitious this 14-year-old is.

I want to go to Princeton University, Maumbe said as if it was already set in stone. Theres just something about the school I like and I know they have a good medical school.

The smiles and laughs that never stop while these kids are doing all the various activities offered through the camp are an indication of the interest they all have in science said Cartwright. He said he feels so blessed to be a part of a program that gives kids an opportunity to see they arent alone in their love of science.

For many of these kids its the first time theyve left home, Cartwright said. I especially think of the kids who come from low-income families who may not have friends and family that support their passions. Here they get the chance to be surrounded by their peers who are interested in the same things, who have the same goals and that kind of experience simply cant be beat.

Cartwright said he is looking to propose future camps be two weeks longs to accommodate two groups of students. He said over 50 students were left on the waiting list this year and he would love for all those interested to have the opportunity to participate.

For more information on HSTA and its various programs, go to

Shane Arrington can be contacted at

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