(photo: former UW Bioengineering Summer Camp participants explore and discover)

UW Bioengineering will host BIOE Summer Camp, a day camp for high school students, July 21-25, 2014. With a focus on bioengineering technologies for global health, the camp will bring 24 Seattle-area students to campus.

Students will learn the fundamentals of BIOE’s pioneering research through approachable projects. They will learn about bioengineering, engage in hands-on activities related to cutting-edge research performed by UW Bioengineering faculty, and talk to leaders in the field. Highlights include guided tours of BIOE research and teaching laboratories, providing the unique opportunity to see the department’s research first-hand, as well as a visit to the Gates Foundation to learn about real-world applications of global health technologies.

The camp will offer a true “visiting scientist” experience, says camp instructor Dianne Hendricks, a full-time lecturer in bioengineering. The camp will conclude with a parents’ reception, where students will present their work, getting the chance to practice public speaking and communication skills.

The department has a history of educational outreach to high school students and ran a previous day camp in 2004, 2005 and 2007. Although the camp was well-received by students, teachers and parents, it was canceled in 2007 due to the failing economy and lack of resources necessary to run it. The camp was so popular, however, that BIOE academic advisers continued to receive inquiries from eager parents for years. In 2014, a re-launch was finally possible with the hires of Dr. Hendricks and program coordinator, Lucy Pick.

New faculty member Dr. Hendricks brings to BIOE Summer Camp several years of experience leading K-12 outreach programs at Duke University, including an overnight camp for middle school students. She will act as instructor of the camp and supervise students’ daily activities. Lucy Pick, hired into the department in late 2012 after managing educational outreach and service learning projects for  Clover Park Technical College as an AmeriCorps*VISTA member, will handle the camp’s day-to-day administration.

The camp, open to Seattle-area students, will select participants through a competitive application process, which closes on May 5. To apply, students must be entering the 9th or 10th grade in autumn of 2014, and need to complete an algebra course by the time the camp starts. In the selection process, factors such as GPA and academic preparedness will be considered, but the selection committee will be most interested in those applicants that express sincere interest and enthusiasm.

Limited scholarships will be made available for students based upon financial need; a student’s family must meet Seattle Public Schools’ eligibility for free and reduced-cost meals to qualify. Camp scholarships are made possible in large part by BIOE PhD program alumnus Dean Pettit (1991) and a matching gift from his employer, Amgen.

The focus on Seattle-area students allows the camp to be a resource to local high schools, bridging the gap to higher education. BIOE Summer Camp aims to provide students with an immersive experience and a first-hand perspective of what it is like to be a student at UW. “This opportunity may be particularly valuable to students who may not have considered pursuing a university education after high school,” Dr. Hendricks says. This might enable such students to envision themselves as university students, and perhaps one day apply to UW, she says.

Another goal of the camp is to get students excited about science as a field of study or career. BIOE Summer Camp will offer all participants valuable skills and experience, which may guide the lives of some, and perhaps encourage a few others to return as college students to study bioengineering in the future.