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WATSON COLLEGE OF EDUCATION

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Another Successful Summer for MarineQuest and Engineering Expectations

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

By Wes King, Marketing and Communications Specialist for Youth Programs

Youth Programs just completed another exciting summer of exploration, discovery and service with MarineQuest and Engineering Expectations.

Now in its 33rd year of programming, MarineQuest hosted over 1250 participants with the camps operating at almost full capacity.  Our staff of more than 30 instructors implemented the academically-focused curriculum while engaging campers in rich field experiences that allowed them to practice some the skills employed by marine scientists – even skills as advanced as research diving. 

MarineQuest acts as a pipeline to the university, bringing in students locally, as well as from across the state, nation, and beyond.  Almost 78% of the attendees came from across North Carolina while some came from other countries to include Canada, Israel, and Spain.  The programs saw 230 repeat participants who are continuing to attend the University-based programs.  Many of our past participants have come back to the University as students and several are currently working for MarineQuest.

Part of MarineQuest’s mission is to encourage youth to value the marine environment.  Students attending our ArtSea, Shore Shots and Sea Shots programs demonstrated their appreciation for coastal habitats through art, underwater photography, and videography that produced public service announcements to educate the public about issues impacting the marine environment. 

This year, MarineQuest introduced Sea Sports Science Olympiad camp which gave students an opportunity to try a variety of water sports, including surfing, kayaking, boogie boarding, and fishing, that can provide an understanding of STEM principles upon which Science Olympiad events are based.  For example, campers kayaked beneath two different types of bridges at Wrightsville Beach and studied their structure and operations.  Then they returned to the classroom to build their own bridges and compete to see which was the strongest. 

Some of our other stand-out camps this year were the Jr. Scientific Diver camp, where participants learned underwater research techniques while exploring some of the beautiful shipwrecks off of the coast of Southeastern North Carolina, and our leadership camps, Sea G.E.M.S. and Sea L.A.B.  Our gender-specific leadership camps gave participants the opportunity to investigate the fields of marine technology and engineering and to participate in a PADI Discover SCUBA diving course. 

Several of the MarineQuest participants were recipients of a variety of merit- and need-based scholarships.  Cy’s World Foundation, First Scholarships, and Youth programs all sponsored students to participate, in total providing opportunities for 32 students.

The summer of 2013 was also our fourth year offering Engineering Expectations.  These camps focus on the engineering design process, creative problem solving and decision-making.  This year, we expanded offerings for three different age groups with each age group having the opportunity to explore aerospace, civil and mechanical engineering.  They also learned engineering history and were introduced to biomimicry, a new and exciting discipline.  In June, Dr. Kezios presented the Nature’s Engineers K-6 curriculum at the International Biomimicry conference in Boston.  As part of her presentation she skyped with Construction Critters, one of the biomimicry camps, so that her audience could see for themselves how engaged students were with the curriculum-based activities.

The engineering camps were instructed by teams consisting of New Hanover County Schools lead science teachers, students enrolled in UNCW’s 2+2 pre-engineering program, and senior level North Carolina State University engineering students.  Engineering Expectations hosted more than 250 participants, including scholarship recipients from the Rachel Freeman School of Engineering and the Gregory Elementary School of Science, Math and technology, both of which are Title 1 schools.  Some students also received scholarships from the Friends of UNCW, First Scholarships, and Youth Programs sponsored scholarships.  In total, 16 students were able to participate in engineering camps because of the sponsored scholarships.

Future female engineers participated in our all-girl’s leadership academy.  These campers learned about women engineers who are exploring the ocean and space.  Guest speakers working in the fields of medicine and safety taught the girls about some of the issues that are attracting women to engineering.  One of the speakers who grew up and was educated in Mexico shared her struggles to convince her family and university to allow her to study engineering.  She was the only woman in her graduating class and today works in Wilmington as a chemical engineer.  A highlight of the Leadership Academy for Future Female Engineers involved designing and constructing prototype armored vests specifically fitted for women’s bodies.  The girls were surprised to learn that women in the US army wear ill-fitting body armor designed for men.

Among the many activities that the campers participated in were field trips to visit a 3D printer, to explore a beaver lodge at the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science, to fly in vertical wind tunnel, and to experience the behind the scenes working of the U.S.S. North Carolina Battleship navigation mechanics.

Even though summer just ended, Youth Programs is already gearing up for our fall programs.  To learn more about these offerings, please visit our website atwww.uncw.edu/youth.