This week, 45 seventh, eighth, and ninth graders have been learning about forensics and crime scene investigation at the 18th annual Lawrence Brothers Science Camp at USD. During the six day camp, the junior high students engaged in finger-printing, blood-typing, and hair and fabric analysis; enjoyed lectures about the brain, sound, teeth, and diseases; investigated and “solved” a crime; competed in a Lego robot challenge; and had a lot of fun while doing all of it.
“This is a very fun, hands-on camp,” said Dr. Barbara Goodman, camp director who started Lawrence Brothers Science Camp 18 years ago. “The purpose is to expose kids to science. There is no prerequisite to get in and no academic requirements other than a love of science.”
During camp, students in attendance are divided into groups. Each group is led by a college-aged counselor who stays with the students in the dorms and engages with them 24 hours a day, said Goodman. In their groups, students develop close friendships and work on group projects, including a final camp presentation delivered to their parents on the day that they leave the camp. At night, groups enjoy social activities like going to the swimming pool, watching a movie, and exploring great USD resources like the Wellness Center.
“This year’s activities include coding theory, fingerprinting, blood typing, anatomy, how sound can help solve crimes, how to identify hairs, disease detectives, how interpretation of insects can help solve crimes, how teeth can help solve crimes, 3-D printing of brains, and more,” said Goodman.
The Lawrence Brothers Science Camp simply makes science fun.
“There are lots of interesting science activities organized by USD faculty, staff, and students,” said Goodman. “Campers get to meet new people and have fun with others from all over the region.”
Students come from across South Dakota to attend the camp. This year’s camp also includes students from Nebraska, Iowa, and Minnesota, as well as one student from Australia.
The Lawrence Brothers Science Camp began in 2002 through a generous donation from the John and Amy Bowles Lawrence Foundation and from the University of South Dakota Foundation. From 2006 through 2011, the camp received grant support from Battelle. Currently, the camp is supported by fees and the South Dakota Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (SD BRIN). Donations, earmarked for the camp, are welcome and will ensure that the camp continues to engage the next generation of scientists, says Goodman.
“We always appreciate the support,” said Goodman. “Anyone who wanted to donate can contact the USD Foundation and list the Lawrence Brothers Science Camp as the beneficiary.”
Information about next year’s camp will be available in March 2020. Goodman urges those interested in attending to get their materials in early. Future themes include Light and Vision and The Science of Sports.
“The camp is popular,” said Goodman. “We have a lot of kids who come for several years. We’ve designed it so that someone can attend every year, from seventh grade through ninth grade, and there will be a different theme each year.”