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Summer camp boosts science

Jul. 15, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- While all appeared quiet on the campus front on a summer Sunday afternoon, that was hardly the case in the basement of the Marshall University Memorial Student Center, where Marshall rolled out the red carpet for a packed room full of excited high school freshmen campers.

Now in its ninth year at Marshall and its 20th year statewide, the annual Health Science & Technology Academy Summer Institute rolls through Friday, July 19, on MU's Huntington campus, introducing some 112 ninth-graders from southern West Virginia to a host of science workshops (everything from suturing and observing simulated surgeries) to health and rec activities that include playing kickball, dancing, Zumba and visiting the Marshall Recreation Center.

This is the 20th year of summer institutes for HSTA, which was started in 1994 with 45 students from two counties. It now averages around 800 students from 26 counties throughout the state enrolled in the program each year.

Ann Chester, who has been the director of the HSTA program for all 20 years of its existence in West Virginia, spoke to the freshmen, saying that HSTA will change their lives and that they can be the positive change that West Virginia needs for a bright future.

"The reason that you are here is that your community chose you because you have potential to make a difference," Chester said. "You can influence West Virginia in a powerful way that can take West Virginia somewhere besides the bottom in most categories. ... I believe you can make this a different state."

Directed at Marshall by David Cartwright, the Fun With Science week exposes students to science as a possibility for a field of study as well as a career.

The institute is designed to give hands-on research and lab experience through Marshall's College of Science, headed up by Chuck Somerville, dean of Marshall's College of Science, as well as some high school teachers.

In addition to attending classes, labs and workshops, the students also will take part in several recreational activities, such as bowling, dancing, Zumba, attending a movie, playing kickball and visiting the Marshall Recreation Center.

Mark Mallory, a senior elementary education major who has been involved in HSTA for the past eight years, said he just loves the energy of the camp and getting to introduce kids to so many amazing things on campus.

"I love the kids and love what we have to offer them," said Mallory of the program, which has a health focus on diabetes. "Few places have both science and health programs. We're going to teach them how to exercise at home and to have fun and that you don't have to go to a big gym or anything to stay in shape."

Corley Dennison, associate vice president for Academic Affairs, quickly shared with the students facts of how science and tech jobs are sharply increasing both across the country and in the state.

After finding out that nearly all students had never been to Marshall or Huntington, Matt Turner, chief of staff for Marshall president Stephen Kopp, welcomed the students and said the university was equally excited to host them.

"We want you to know that while this is exciting for you, it is exciting for us as well," Turner said. "Marshall and Huntington are intertwined like few other universities and their communities, and we are all so glad you are here."

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