University of Pittsburgh
July 2, 2002

Area Sixth Graders to Attend Pitt Biology Camp July 8-13 Field Trips to Science Center, Zoo and Aquarium, National Aviary Highlight First-Hand Experience

Contact:  412-624-4147

July 3, 2002

PITTSBURGH—A group of sixth graders from Manchester Elementary School, Paynter Elementary School, and Allegheny Traditional Academy will discover that science can be fun at a bioscience camp offered by the University of Pittsburgh's Department of Biological Sciences July 8-13 at the Carnegie Science Center.

"The theme of the camp is 'Animals,' with a focus on adaptations and ecosystems,'' says Alison Slinsky Legg, outreach coordinator for the department. "Our camp provides exposure to science through experimentation and fun activities.''

Students will experience the natural world through hands-on experiments and field trips to the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium, the National Aviary, and West Park during the camp, which is funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Undergraduate Biological Sciences Education Program.

"Science is an active process dependent upon curiosity, observations, and investigations. Learning science requires doing things, rather than just hearing about them," says Cheryl Riccobelli, assistant outreach coordinator at Pitt's biological sciences department. "We want to encourage students' interest in science by letting them employ these principles firsthand through activities, workshops, and field trips."

Participants will learn the proper way to set up experiments—called the scientific method—and put it to the test by suggesting hypotheses and checking outcomes in experiments such as whether or not dropped jelly bread always land jelly side down. They'll test their environment by swabbing nearby sites then checking for bacterial growth. Herpetologist April Claus will let students interact with frogs, turtles, cornsnakes, and hellbenders—giant salamanders.

The visit to the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium on Wednesday features a behind-the-scenes encounter with the elephants. "The opportunity to get close to the elephants always makes the day quite memorable," says Riccobelli.

Saturday, campers will display their journals and report on the week's activities at a picnic for campers and their families. Each participant will receive a certificate of achievement and a one-year family membership to the Carnegie Science Center.