Science All-Stars Camp Out At SMU

Stories from KERA public radio and CBS 11 News about teenagers aspiring to be doctors and scientists gaining valuable skills – and inspiration – from SMU’s STEMPREP program.

By Bill Zeeble
KERA Radio

It may be the middle of summer, but it’s graduation day for dozens of teens in science camp. A six-week summer school at SMU ends today. It was built for teenage science superstars from across the country.

“Well we just cut open the heart of the fetal pig. . .”

It’s pig dissection day in the science lab for soon-to-be 9th graders, like 14 year-old Armani Holland.

“Right now we’re cutting to see the pancreas, so we’re making incisions to see the pancreas of the pig.”

A lot of us can get grossed-out by dissecting anything, let alone a grayish pink, dead baby pig. Not Holland.

“I thought I would be. The smell is a little horrifying. But not too bad. Some people I guess are afraid of blood. Since I’ve been hurt many times in sports and things, I’m not such a big deal about it.”

Here’s what is a big deal for Armani, who’s from Los Angeles, where her mom works at a college and dad’s an engineer. She’s doing in these six weeks what many older high school students never get to do - learn advanced science while hanging out with other passionate students. She loves this stuff. When queried about college, she just laughs because she’s so obsessed about it. And she’s not even in high school yet.

“I always, like, go to the top colleges, so I always, like, go on their sites. I always go on, like, Stanford, and - Yale isn’t up there - but I like Yale too. Harvard…”

Holland has an excellent chance of getting in, too. Every kid in this program so far has gone to college. And 85 percent of them enter graduate school, according to retired hand surgeon Dr. Charles Knibb. He oversees the multi-year STEMPREP summer camp – it stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math preparation. It targets minority students. Knibb, who’s African American, says these may be super smart students, but science for kids of color remains a challenge.


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