High School Students and Teachers Learn Together

June 5, 2013
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For the third year in a row MNU is hosting area high school science teachers and their students in six day-long science enrichment camps this June. The Science of Beauty, CSI-II, and The Science of Field Ecology are free due to a five-year Teacher Quality Preparation grant MNU received from the U.S. Department of Education.

According to Gary Andersen, PhD, (left) MNU associate professor of education, 120 students and teachers from Olathe, Gardner-Edgerton, Kansas City, Kansas, DeSoto, Shawnee Mission and Mission Valley school districts are registered to attend.

Sherry Hansen, a biology teacher at Olathe North High School says the students enjoy performing hands on experiments. This is Hansen’s second year to attend the camps. This year she brought two Olathe North seniors, Ashley Gasiorowski and Caleb Tady, from the Animal Health Program to The Science of Field Ecology camp.

Olathe South sophomore Sebastian Menez said the group was comparing growth data on trees with the use of core samples taken from trees on the MNU campus.

“We are looking for patterns in growth based on weather conditions by looking at the rings on the tree samples,” Menez said.


Olathe South biology teacher Jeff Witters, told the group they could find a great deal of information from the tree samples.

“Some scientists spend their whole careers staring at tree rings. The rings record climate information that are the ‘slings and arrows’ as Shakespeare said, of that individual tree’s life. Pointing to a slice of a tree trunk Witters remarked, “That’s a novel if you can figure out how to read it.”

FieldEcoSciCamp2013Jeff Witters (right), a biology teacher from Olathe South High School, shows Caleb Tady, Olathe North senior and Sebastian Menez, Olathe South sophomore, the wealth of data contained in the rings on a tree trunk sample during MNU’s The Science of Field Ecology Camp.

Witters is a 1996 graduate of MNU with a bachelor of arts in biology. He was recruited to assist with the camp by Andersen who coordinates the Science Camps each year.

“I hope these students have the chance to be curious about not just the natural world, but also to learn about the tools and methods used in the field of ecology,” Andersen said.

Witters agrees that the experience opens the student’s mind to possibilities.

“Through these camps students can realize their interests could take them somewhere in a career,” he said.

Next week the camps wrap up with The Science of CSI-II in which participants will learn about the science of crime scene investigation.

For more information about MNU programs in science and math visit www.mnu.edu.