Categorized | Sci-Tech

Science camp for teens launches this summer


A new camp is set to launch this summer on the Big Island for local teens entering grades 9 through 12 with a passion for science.

Michael Richards

Science Camps of America will take the learning outdoors offering first-hand experience in an environment that ranges from beaches to rainforests to volcanoes to snow-covered mountaintops.

“The idea is to get teens outside and into the field to truly explore science,” said Michael Richards, camp founder and executive director. “We constantly hear negative remarks about how Hawaii students are underperforming in reading, math and science; I think it’s time we talk about positive solutions. We need to find new ways to engage students and nurture their interests, and in this particular case, we want to focus on science because we have one of nature’s greatest laboratories in our backyard.”

Although 2012 saw Hawaii students’ overall reading and math proficiency scores both rise five percent from the previous year, science assessment scores remained abysmal. Only 22 percent of sophomores met science proficiency standards — unchanged from 2011 and down five percent from 2010, according to the Hawaii Department of Education’s “Hawaii Statewide Assessment Program Spring 2007-2012 Results.”

Richards, a local entrepreneur from Kaneohe who sold his software business in 2010, said he worried his own grandchildren would become too preoccupied with using the Internet and social media and were spending less time exploring the world outside.

He knew this problem extended to more than just his family and came up with the idea to start a camp that would get teens outdoors and be both fun and educational.

Richards called upon his past geology teacher Dr. Floyd McCoy to help create a solid curriculum for the camp.

McCoy, professor of geology and oceanography at the University of Hawaii’s Windward campus, immediately agreed to come on board as director of education because he said “it’s a fantastic and unique opportunity to get teens outside and let them be hands-on with science.”

Big Island native and Harvard-educated, McCoy is a highly regarded scientist and educator and has appeared on specials for National Geographic, the BBC, TLC, NBC and Discovery channels.

Richards and McCoy chose the Big Island to launch Science Camps of America because of its incredibly diverse environment, climate and geology.

“One day we might be examining lava flows, the next we might be helping reforest former ranch land, the next we might be stargazing from Mauna Kea,” Richards said. “Being in the field, accompanied by science teachers and scientists, campers will not only absorb a tremendous amount of knowledge, they will also have an idea of what it’s like to be a scientist.”

The first science summer camp session, Land and Sea, will be held June 22-July 1 and give campers the chance to examine volcanoes, geology, beaches, reefs and the ocean.

They will have the opportunity to visit Kilauea — the most active volcano in the world. Campers will get to explore marine life by the water and hike through the mountains. They will learn how events in the natural world affect plants, animals and humans.

The second session, Air and Space, will be held July 1-10 and expose campers to topics including the atmosphere, weather systems, climate change, and the innovative technologies that address the ever-changing world.

They will visit Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea — home to 13 telescopes which are some of the world’s largest. Campers will be able to gain a better understanding of climate change and the solutions to address this issue, including seeing alternate energy development in action.

The camp home base will be at the Pahala Plantation Cottages in Ka‘u. Campers in both sessions will also learn about Hawaiian history and culture and Polynesian voyaging.

To extend this experience to more local teens, The Science Camps of America Scholarship Fund offers three full and multiple partial scholarships on a financial need basis for each session.

— Find out more:

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: