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Get Real! Science Camp scales up (in the air) this summer

Get Real! Science Camp Scales Up This Summer
Sodus students use aerial photography to tackle relevant scientific investigations for their local community

Engineering a rig to hold small cameras elevated by large helium balloons and kites, Sodus middle school students will gather aerial images to complement scientific investigations they conduct on the ground.  Facilitated by graduate students in the Warner School of Education, middle school students have identified problems that they want to solve in their local community.
Sodus students asked questions, such as: “Why do the strawberries from the farm taste different than store-bought strawberries?” or “What is the stink bug? And how is it affecting the farms?” These are some examples of questions students will explore through inquiry-based investigations to better understand the local farming industry that populates their Sodus community.
Fifty Sodus students in grades 6-9 are taking part in a weeklong summer camp, called Get Real! Science, running July 19-26.  Led by graduate students who are training to become science teachers at the Warner School, the annual Get Real! Science Camp is being offered for the second summer, in partnership with the Sodus Central School District, to students outside of Monroe County. The camp is an extension of the Summer STEM Program regularly offered to Sodus students each year. The Summer STEM Program is the brainchild of Warner alumna Ellen Lloyd ‘10 (EdD), principal at Sodus Intermediate School.
Get Real! Science campersThis summer, the partnership will provide an opportunity for students from Sodus Intermediate School to explore how soil consistency, water quality, and insects all impact their local farms. Equally important, Warner graduate students studying to become science teachers are able to move toward a more authentic, inquiry-based approach that makes learning science exciting and meaningful for children. 
These soon-to-be science teachers are guiding Sodus students in acting, thinking, and working like real scientists on relevant problems in their own community. Students are also learning what can be done to tackle real-world issues.
The graduate students of Warner designed three scientific investigations that came from the Sodus students’ initial questions. Throughout the week, students will be investigating the differences in soil content on a local farm, Burnap’s Farms. In another investigation, students will be comparing the quality of water by testing the local streams to Sodus Bay. In the final investigation, students will explore the variety of insects that impact the local crops, including the invasive species the stink bug. Sodus students will also spend a portion of their time back in their science classrooms, where they will continue to investigate questions about and formulate solutions to these local problems.
Students will then present their findings and recommendations to the community and key stakeholders, including the Wayne Soil and Water Conservation District, for improving the current conditions on the camp’s last day, Thursday, July 26, from 10 to 11:15 a.m., in the gymnasium at Sodus Jr./Sr. High School (54 Mill St, Sodus, N.Y. 14551). The event is free and open to the public.
April Luehmann, associate professor at the Warner School, says the continuation of this partnership gives opportunity to extend the successful work of the Get Real! Science Camp beyond Rochester to offer students in rural schools the chance to deepen their engagement in science by tackling real scientific problems outside of the classroom.
“We are excited to build on the work of last summer with the partnership of the Sodus School District and the University of Rochester,” Luehmann explains. “Encouraging students to act and think like scientists and engineers and to dig deeper into science by asking meaningful questions is important in today’s world that is faced with an evolving ecosystem and a growing number of environmental concerns. It is our hope that students complete camp with a positive vision of science and with a sense of accomplishment as they work toward making a difference.”
Get Real! Science campersThe value of inquiry-based science education—or doing science to learn science—is affirmed as a solid method of teaching and learning throughout summer camp and the remainder of the 15-month science teacher preparation program, known as the Get Real! Science Program, which the Get Real! Science Camp is part of. The Get Real! Science Program, created a decade ago by Luehmann, is grounded in authentic experiences that include the summer Get Real! Science Camp, Science STARS (Students Tackling Authentic and Relevant Science) program, and more.