Summer science campers engage in hands-on stem cell activities

Now in its ninth year, the Rural Summer Science Camp brings teachers and high school students from rural Wisconsin communities to Madison to learn about advances in stem cell science and careers in research. A large emphasis is placed on hands-on, experiential learning. Campers aren’t just hearing about science– they’re doing science.

“They get to wear white coats with the people they think should be wearing white coats,” says Dan Murphy, outreach coordinator at the Morgridge Institute and one of the camp organizers. “We want them to come here and have this blockbuster experience about the real deal and then also take home the enthusiasm of that exposure of what it is to be a scientist.”

This year’s camp included more activities led by undergraduate and graduate student groups, highlighting scientists at different stages of their career and exposing the high school students to possibilities for their own futures.

Beyond learning some of the ‘how’ of stem cell science, campers discover what still needs to be asked and answered in the field, navigate the ethical questions with bioethicist Pilar Ossorio, and learn the multitude of disciplines, like biomedical engineering, that must be incorporated into the work to progress forward.

A total of 37 high school students and nine teachers will have participated in this summer’s camps, split between a June and a July session. Participating schools include: Benton Community Schools, Mellen School District, Necedah Area School District, Solon Springs, Three Lakes High School, North Crawford, Prentice High School, Tomah High School, and Winter High School.