Glowing bacteria! Rockets! STEM Camp 2019

Fifty-eight students from across North Carolina descended upon Campbell University on June 24, for STEM Camp hosted by the College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences and the School of Engineering.

Campbell University’s STEM Camp provides high school students with the opportunity to explore engineering, pharmacy and health sciences programs. Students participated in hands-on activities with awards and a pizza party at the end of the week.

The rising ninth- through 12th-grade students were able to interact with faculty and staff from engineering, pharmaceutical sciences, clinical research and physician assistant programs.

“Campbell University’s summer STEM camp is designed to provide the experience needed to spark students’ interest in STEM. The camp creates an avenue for team spirit to thrive and helps the students develop the ability to solve problem independently. As a counselor for two years, I am very proud to be part of this project,” said Philip Oji (’19 BSPS).

The students were able to work with the pharmaceutical sciences faculty in the lab throughout the week to conduct a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) activity with bacteria. By the end of the week, their bacteria should have glowed green in the petri dish.

During the engineering activities on Monday, the students created their own working amusement park ride and created a track for a nanobug to run through.


Click to see photos from the 2019 STEM Camp


On Tuesday, the students were able to visit Smith Hall and meet with our physician assistant faculty. During their time in Smith Hall, they learned how to splint a broken arm using a partner for practice. They were also able to work with our simulation mannequin. During this session, Justin Gambini, assistant professor in the Physician Assistant Program, controlled the mannequin from a computer while the students performed CPR. Gambini demonstrated various health concerns, who were amazed at what the mannequin could do and how the operation software worked.

Gambini commented, “I really appreciate the vision this program provides. It allows our up and coming future leaders to begin developing core skills which in turn will drive positive trends in their future careers. By having, the students participate in the varied activities it broadens their perspectives on fields that they never might have considered. I always love the engagement and questions from the students each year. It is refreshing to see such a diverse student background and ever-increasing presence of minorities and females. STEM Camp is one of the events I look forward to every year, it’s an absolute honor to participate.”

As the week progressed, students learned about Clinical Research, visited the Pharmaceutical Education Research Center (PERC), the Engineering Annex, and built rockets. Excitement continued to build when Dr. Jenna Carpenter, dean of the School of Engineering, joined the students for their rocket launch. The rockets flew about 500 ft. to 600 ft. in the air. So high, the crowd could not see the rockets until they began their descent.

Clinical Research and Pharmaceutical Sciences faculty held a drug discovery activity with the students where they learned about the process of drug discovery from concept to clinical trials to market. Students were able to formulate and re-formulate a cream to present to a mock U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

When asked about her favorite part of STEM Camp, Alexys Wilson, BS in Engineering student and camp mentor stated, “My favorite part was on Thursday when all the campers came together to make finishing touches and/or fix something that didn’t work the first time. This to me was my favorite part because they had so many questions on how to make it work or make it better. When I gave them one idea, tip, or suggestion, their eyes lit up and they ran with it. To know that I can make that small difference on how they think and be excited about STEM makes me so excited.”

On Friday, everything wrapped up with awards, a showcase, and a pizza and homemade ice cream party. The students received LEGO awards with their name on them as well as a little LEGO person to go on top of the award. Parents were invited to spend the morning with their student walking from station to station to see the finished products from the week’s activities. During the awards presentation, the student mentors spoke about each of their groups and handed out the awards.

Martha Bizzell expressed how proud she was of the hard work the students did during the week and how they used the design process to figure out answers and solutions to problems they encountered during their activities.

Carpenter concluded, “We were delighted to have had the opportunity to partner with the College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences again this year to host STEM Camp. The fact that we were able to triple the size of STEM Camp over last year speaks volumes about the value of this experience. Our engineering staff and students planned a variety of engaging hands-on activities, from water filtration systems to amusement park rides to building and launching a rocket. All of these provided campers with an opportunity to learn about engineering design and application in a team-based environment, as well as Campbell’s unique project-based approach to engineering.”