By Susan Motander
This summer students, grades eight to 10, are getting the opportunity to learn real science at Oak Crest Institute. The City of Monrovia and the Institute are co-hosting a science academy for the students, and at the same time giving older students a summer job through the city’s Youth Employment Services Program (YES). What these young people are doing is mind boggling.
The older students were hired by the city and trained by the Oak Crest staff to use the sophisticated scientific lab instrumentation at the Institute and be able to teach the younger students how to use the same equipment.
To make this more interesting to the young people, the institute has created a scenario which is literally out of this world. The scenario was described on the Oak Crest Institute website as follows:
“March 15, 2018, 16:00 hours: During a routine patrol, park rangers recover unusual and suspicious objects found near Monrovia Canyon Waterfall exhibiting puzzling properties and wishing to seek answers, these artifacts were brought in for analysis to the OCSA. It will be the challenge of the junior researchers utilizing scientific reasoning and sophisticated lab instrumentation from Oak Crest Institute of Science to provide scientific facts that these artifacts could be of extraterrestrial origin … but much more research is needed!”
The junior researchers are working to explore that analysis in three separate two-week sessions this summer. The first session just finished and the second just began.
Some of the areas the young people are looking at are microbiology, chromosome spreads, karyotyping, chromatography, and they are using the extremely sophisticated equipment at the institute to do this. The sophistication of those instruments is amazing, as is the fact that youngsters just finishing middle school and starting high school are able to understand and use them.
According to Paul Webster, one the senior members of the faculty at the institute, this summer academy exposes young people to science in an exciting way. They wish to make science interesting and open up the possibility of careers in various scientific fields. If the expressions on the faces of those participating in the first session are anything to go by, the institute is succeeding. The students are involved and engaged in what they are doing. In essence, the institute is making science fun (and by the way, the students are learning a great deal along the way).
This is only one area in which Oak Crest Institute of Science is making a difference. See this publication next week for a look at other areas.