‘Sciencepalooza!’ Brings the Fun of Science to YMCA and YWCA Campers

PITTSBURGH, July 30, 2014 – Six hundred grade-schoolers will be on the University of Pittsburgh campus on Thursday, July 31, to learn how scientists work and to conduct their own experiments — and maybe get inspired to pursue careers in science when they grow up.

“Sciencepalooza!,” a day-long camp designed to show kids the value and excitement of science, was born out of a collaboration between the Pitt Science Outreach Program, which is part of Pitt’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), and local chapters of the YMCA and YWCA. During the event, each camper will visit eight stations where they’ll get to perform different hands-on scientific activities.

“This event is as much fun for the scientists who put it together as it is for the kids,” said Judy Cameron, Ph.D., director of science outreach for Pitt’s CTSI. “We love watching them ask and answer questions, make discoveries, and enjoy learning. Positive experiences like this could inspire them to become the researchers of the future.

Campers who are entering fourth through eighth grade will choose from activities that include learning about fossils; energy and the environment; how poor diet and exercise habits can lead to heart disease; how listening to loud music can damage your hearing; how to put simple circuits together to make a radio; and techniques that forensic pathologists use to solve crime mysteries.

There also will be stations run by educational partners from around the city, including the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s “Feathers, Furs and Scales” that explains why different animals have different coatings on their body; the Sunburst Guitar Study that shows the parts of a guitar and how instruments make music by changing the frequency of sound waves; the Pittsburgh Glass Center that demonstrates glass blowing; and the Yoga Flow station to discuss some of the health benefits of yoga.

Kindergarten through third-grade campers will be able to visit a dairy station where they will learn about the importance of calcium for bone health and play “Moo-ve it to the Moo-sic”; a protein station where they play games called “Animal” and “Plant” and classify different types of food proteins; Oliver’s Organs Station where they will learn about different body organs and what they do; and the “Activity Dice” game where they learn about the importance of exercise for good health.

This summer, Pitt’s extended educational program was offered at six YMCA and one YWCA program locations: Hazelwood YMCA, Thelma Lovette YMCA, Homewood-Brushton YWCA, Collegiate YMCA, Urban Pathways YMCA, Penn Hills YMCA, and Western YMCA. In 2013, the Pitt Science Outreach Program reached more than 12,000 people in the region.