Investing in the future with STEM Camp and Discovery Days

The College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences (CPHS) and the Campbell University School of Engineering (SOE) offered two summer STEM Camps to middle school and high school students. CPHS also hosted two Discovery Days for high school students. The collaborative nature of programming bolsters Campbell’s commitment to interprofessional education.

The STEM Camps provided students the opportunity to focus on hands-on learning with real-world applications. These camps helped develop and strengthen a variety of skill sets like critical thinking, innovation, and exploratory learning. Students were encouraged to adapt, problem solve, and be creative.

Through hands on encounters their eyes are opened to a collaborative experience. Opportunities like this provide engagement and exposure they would not receive otherwise. -Crystal Dark

CPHS and the SOE hosted forty-eight middle school students for a STEM Camp June 14–16. Students explored engineering and health science programs through hands-on activities such as the pharmaceutical theme around separation: ultimately learning to handle an air-displacement pipet and load DNA onto a gel, a clinical research taste test, an amusement park ride activity, nanobug track, and an egg shoot.

The high school STEM Camp was held July 12–14. Forty-three students from across the state of North Carolina joined the programs of engineering, clinical research, and pharmaceutical sciences for a variety of fun learning activities. Pharmaceutical Sciences activities were themed around Spectroscopy: building a paper spectrophotometer for their cell phone and developing a calibration curve. Survey feedback showed participants enjoyed the various labs, engineering activities, and engaging with faculty the most.

Crystal Dark, office manager and program coordinator for the Department of Pharmaceutical & Clinical Sciences played an instrumental role in planning and executing the events. She shared that many students come in expressing interests in specific topics, but, “through hands on encounters their eyes are opened to a collaborative experience. Opportunities like this provide engagement and exposure they would not receive otherwise.”

Discovery Days provided an opportunity to introduce high school students to CPHS programs. CPHS organized two Discovery Days, one in June and one in July. Thirteen rising 9th–12th grade students from across North Carolina attended each Discovery Day.

The interactive workshops allowed participants to learn about the roles, responsibilities, and impact of clinical researchers, pharmaceutical scientists, physical therapists, and nurses. Discovery Days are an exceptional opportunity for high school students to explore career paths that already match their passion and to be exposed to paths they have never considered. Students and their parents also had the opportunity to hear from student success, undergraduate admissions, and take a campus tour.

“By the time students get to 8th grade they have to decide if they want to go into trades, business, or health sciences. Once a student is in one of these tracks, it’s harder to jump tracks because of the curriculum it is built around. Campbell’s STEM Camps and Discovery Days engaged students and reinforced decisions,” remarked Mike Gallagher, associate director of Pharmaceutical & Clinical Sciences.

Faculty and staff from the Department of Pharmaceutical & Clinical Sciences and the SOE participated in STEM Camp activities. Six current Campbell students acted as mentors for the camps. Faculty from most CPHS departments participated in Discovery Days, and one Pharmaceutical Sciences student assisted with the Discovery Days.

Plans are in the works to host the STEM Camps and Discovery Days again next year.