CCAC holds “Biology Bootcamp” for middle school students

Article by: CCAC Public Relations

PITTSBURGH-The Community College of Allegheny County's Allegheny Campus recently hosted a day-long educational camp that taught students entering sixth through eighth grades all about biology. In the Biology Bootcamp, students engaged in fun hands-on learning activities to stimulate their interest in the biology-bootcampscience. The program is made possible through the National Science Foundation BioMaS (Biotechnology, Math & Sciences) grant program in conjunction with the CCAC Educational Foundation and Science Club. The popularity of the camp, which has been held every summer for nearly 25 years, continues to grow.

The students, ranging in age from 10 to 13, began the day with an introduction to cells. They learned how cells are similar to factories and then created simple models of cells using plastic bags, items such as string and marbles to represent organelles, and gel. Next, the students got a lesson in organs with a focus on lungs. They were able to examine a preserved sheep's lung and to build a lung model, which they used to do a simple investigation involving inhalation and exhalation.

After a lunch of pizza, the students learned about ecosystems with a focus on the geology of rivers, and they created small terrariums full of plants and other organic material to take home and observe. Each participant received a gift bag with scientific goodies, including goggles, pH paper, a T-shirt and an autographed copy of "The Handy Science Answer Book." All activities took place in a CCAC Biology lab, with faculty members, work study-students and Biotechnology scholarship students assisting.

The time and effort involved in running the bootcamp every summer is well worth the lasting educational benefits that it fosters, according to Dr. Sandra Bobick, coordinator, CCAC BioMaS Learning Community.

"The students were very enthusiastic, and I think they gained an understanding of the various aspects of biology," said Bobick, who leads the camp with Sandra Callan, assistant instructor and chair, CCAC Biology Department. "They also got an idea of the different kinds of careers they could have, such as physician or ecologist."

To learn more about the National Science Foundation BioMaS Workforce Collaborative program, which enables students to earn a Certificate or Associate of Science in Biotechnology at no cost, go here.

Photo: CCAC Biology Professor Caroline Evans leads students in an experiment involving inhalation using a preserved sheep's lung.

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