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High school students get their feet wet with free science camp

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: High school students get their feet wet with free science camp
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For many kids, there's few things more exciting than summer camp and for rising sophomores at Syracuse's Institute of Technology High School, their experience is particularly exciting as they learn about science first hand, while getting a full college experience. As our Katie Gibas reports, it's a rare opportunity these kids will never forget.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- For these high school students, summer camp is all about getting their feet wet in science, literally.

"This is the best part, walking in the creek with these big boots," said Wan'ye Jones, Institute of Technology High School sophomore.

"Walking through the water and looking for crayfish and salamanders and stuff," said Jade Ratchford, Institute of Technology High School sophomore.

Twenty-three rising sophomores from Syracuse's Institute of Technology High School are spending the week learning about science by living it. They'll be doing experiments and listening to lectures from SUNY ESF professors.

"So much of the classroom, you can't do experiential learning any more. And kids can get so much out of that and the informal learning, as well as just the great opportunity to really impart knowledge to the kids that they might not get elsewhere," said Program Coordinator Brandon Murphy.

"I love science and that's my favorite class. I wanted to get more out of the class than what I got this year," said Jones.

The camp isn't just a fun way to spend a week in the summer. It's also a good way to get kids interested in science and motivated to stay in school.

"It's been fun. At first I wasn't sure about the nature stuff, but then I got used to it," said Ratchford.

"If you lose their interest in science and they kind of disconnect at that point, it's very hard for them once they get to their junior, senior year and when they get to college to be able to make up that lost time. So to keep them excited about it at this time is critical," said Murphy.

The students are also staying in the Syracuse University dorms as a way to give them a taste of college life and interested in continuing their education.

The program is free to students and made possible through a grant the city school district received. Both organizers and students hope this can be an annual program.

Efforts like this one coincide with the Connect a Million Minds initiative, aiming to inspire youth to develop science, technology, engineering and math skills. For more information on the initiative, go to connectamillionminds.com.

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