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STEM summer camps at IUPUI offer hands-on experiences for high school students and teachers


INDIANAPOLIS — Summer camp at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis means hands-on experiences in science, technology, engineering and mathematics for high school students attending the Young Innovators Quest, or students and teachers at the IUPUI Nanotechnology Discovery Academy.

IUPUI is hosting Young Innovators Quest through June 29. Sponsored by Health and Science Innovations, the summer camp, which began June 17, is designed to motivate high school students to become innovators in science and technology.

Now in its second year, Young Innovators Quest, or YIQ, provides an opportunity for high school students to conduct research and pursue creative activities through hands-on experience in molecular biology, neuroimaging, computer programming, engineering applications and other STEM-based subjects. The goal is the generation of concepts, ideas and new technologies that will lead to the development of new products and services.

“Our Central Indiana high school students must have diverse opportunities to learn and have exposure to STEM fields through programs that allow them to explore and participate in hands-on activities,” said Diana Vasquez, research programs coordinator of Health and Science Innovations. “The Young Innovators Quest gives the students this opportunity, as well as the space to interact with professionals who can share their experience and become their mentors for the development of research projects and creation of innovative ideas.”

Students attending YIQ are supervised by several scientists, including Jake Y. Chen, professor of informatics and computer science at Indiana University School of Informatics at IUPUI; Jesus Zapata, professor of physics at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus; and Dr. Alfredo Lopez-Yunez, director of Alivio Medical Center and president of the board of directors of Health and Science Innovations.

Students meet from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the first week of camp and stay overnight in IUPUI campus housing the second week.

IUPUI Nanotechnology Discovery Academy is offered in three sessions — two for high school students and one for high school teachers — and is partially sponsored by NASA through the Indiana Space Grant Consortium.

Nanotechnology involves the control of matter in the nanometer-scale dimensions — one nanometer is 100,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair — with a broad range of applications such as energy, medicine, information technology, space and aeronautics, and consumer goods.

The IUPUI Nanotechnology Discovery Academy, first offered in 2010, is geared to instill high school students with the desire and capacity to excel in STEM disciplines and careers. Typically 50 students and 15 to 20 teachers have participated each summer.

“The (academy’s) primary goal is to inspire students to pursue higher education and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines,” said Mangilal Agarwal, associate director of research development at IUPUI. “In student camps, this is achieved through early exposure to cutting-edge science, instrumentation and academic research. … In teacher camps, in addition to lecture-based theory and hands-on learning, participants are introduced to nanotechnology-based teaching modules that are easily translated to the high school classroom, thus enabling INDA to potentially reach a much broader population of students.”

The second session of the IUPUI Nanotechnology Discovery Academy summer camp for students takes place June 24 to 28; the first session ended June 14. The session for teachers takes place July 15 to 19.