Students take part in UCSF's science summer camp

Lyanne Melendez Image
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Students take part in UCSF's science summer camp
Dozens of students are taking part in a hands-on science summer camp aimed to motivate and inspire young kids who could not otherwise afford to go.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- UCSF is celebrating 10 years of changing the way kids approach science. It's a no-brainer. Just give fifth and sixth-graders some hands-on experience and a few insects and you may have the future scientists of the Bay Area.

Nearly 60 students are spending a week at a science camp sponsored by UCSF.

The camp was established in 2007 to motivate and inspire young kids who otherwise could not afford to be exposed to this kind of hands-on science.

Just before noon, fifth and sixth-graders learn about chemical reactions by mixing Borox and glue to make slime.

Their counselors are UCSF medical and dental students as well as student pharmacists. "A lot of them were a little disappointed that they didn't get the consistency they wanted but that's part of the process. It's part of being a scientist," UCSF dental student Roseangel Oropeza said.

For the past 10 years, UCSF students have been introducing scientific concepts to underserved kids with the hope that perhaps, someday, they'll be scientists.

On Tuesday, at UCSF Summer Science Camp, insects were as popular as creating slime. "Poison, you have to eat. Venom has to be injected, so something like a snake would be venomous, a spider would be venomous. These guys are poisonous, totally safe to touch, not too safe to snack on. So everyone try to contain yourself," a camp instructor said.

Right away, they debunk all misconceptions. "They can be friendly and not always try to kill you," one camper said.

"This grasshopper here is diurnal. It's awake during the day and the difference between a grasshopper and a cricket is that crickets are nocturnal, so they are awake during the night," sixth-grader Jason Fong said.

The camp was created in 2007 by a student pharmacist. UCSF Dept. of Medicine Professor Dr. Jay Levy quickly saw the potential.

"So let's say 10 percent of the students went into science. That's fantastic," Levy said.

One of those who attended in 2007 is Najwa Anasse, who is a double major in biology and neuroscience. "Even in college, I barely even get to do the things they let us do here," she said.

After today, these students may decide to stick with science as a major in college.

Click here to learn more about this science camp.