Sternberg Museum plans summer camps to inspire passion for science

New this summer, Fort Hays State University's Sternberg Museum of Natural History will offer elementary, middle and high school students an opportunity to fall in love with science through its series of outdoor field camps, day camps and overnight family camping trips.

"Students will be presented with questions and situations during the camps that will encourage critical thinking, collaboration, hypothesis-testing and examination of evidence to form conclusions. They will not only learn about science but how to do science themselves," said David Levering, education and outreach director of Sternberg Museum.

During the course of the summer, students of all ages are invited to participate in camps in biology, geology and paleontology.

The field camps promise a new outdoor adventure every day, said Levering. Students will study plant and animal life by participating in field captures of a variety of regional animals, including snakes, small mammals, birds and insects, which will give camp leaders an opportunity to teach students how to take proper notes, record data and draw field sketches.

Students will also learn to identify different rocks and minerals to discover what the geologic features say about the natural history of an area. Together, the notes, data, field sketches and geologic features will help students understand how ecosystems function.

The integrative paleontology camps feature an outdoor camping experience with lab and classroom components. Under the guidance of professional paleontologists, students will use Geographic Information System (GIS) tools to prospect, excavate and identify fossils and then study them using laboratory equipment.

These summer camps will allow students to get excited about science without the added pressures from testing found in a typical classroom setting. Students will receive personal guidance from science professionals and an inside look at a day in the life of earth and life scientists.

This is not merely a show-and-tell experience, said Levering, but an opportunity for students to apply the scientific process through collaboration, hypothesis testing and examining evidence to form conclusions.
"The skills, knowledge, confidence and fascination sparked by the hands-on, experience-based learning offered through science camps can lead to improved academic performance, letters of recommendation and a newfound drive to excel towards a career in science," said Levering.

Elementary school students are invited to participate in a series of day camps. Dates are:
Fun with Fossils, Monday, June 2.
Junior Reptiles and Amphibians, Wednesday, June 4.
Junior Bird Biologists, Monday, June 30.
Junior Insects and Spiders, Wednesday, July 2.
Junior Marvelous Mammals, Monday, August 11.
Junior Rocks and Minerals, Wednesday, August 13.

Middle school students are invited to a variety of three-day, two-night camps, each focusing on a specific topic such as reptiles and amphibians, birds, fossils and insects. Dates are:
Paleontology Expedition, Sunday to Tuesday, June 8-10.
Marvelous Mammals, Wednesday to Friday, June 11-13.
Bird Biologists, Sunday to Tuesday, June 15-17.
Reptiles and Amphibians, Wednesday to Friday, June 18-20.
Rocks and Minerals, Monday to Wednesday, Aug. 4-6.
Insects and Spiders, Thursday to Saturday, Aug. 7-9.

A two-week paleontology camp will be offered to high school students from Sunday, July 19, to Friday, July 25.

A week-long biology camp is in the planning stages for summer 2015.

The dates for the family weekend programs are still to be determined.

All camps are limited to a maximum of 10 participants.

For more information, contact Levering at 785-639-5249 or by email at

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