IU Northwest Camp Exposes Underrepresented Populations to STEM Careers

Thirty-five teens from area high schools spent time at Indiana University Northwest this summer, immersed in hands-on learning in science, engineering, technology, and mathematics (STEM).

The three-day camp was provided free of charge, thanks to the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program, designed to increase the quantity and quality of students, especially underrepresented students, who study STEM disciplines, and boost the number of STEM graduates.

The teens rotated through various activities and experiments in biology, chemistry, computer information systems, informatics, math, and geology. IU Northwest faculty members, all leading researchers in their fields, had the students designing, problem-solving, analyzing, experimenting and more.

Lecturer Linda Wozniewski challenged them to figure out how much weight their bridges could hold. Professor Zoran Kilibarda helped them determine the geographic origin of beach pebbles. With Assistant Professor Dan Kelly, the students created a chemical reaction with vinegar and baking soda to design an air bag system with a weight. Associate Professor Jie Wang helped them create a framework for 2D game development. And they learned about actuarial science by working on brain teasers with Professor Vesna Kilibarda.

Shelby Palmer, a sophomore at Lake Central High School, said she most enjoyed assistant professors Jenny Fisher’s and Ming Gao’s biology activity, in which students compared DNA from a “crime scene.”

Opportunities like IU Northwest’s Summer STEM Camp, and other initiatives made possible by LSAMP and other NSF-funded programs, help students develop their interests and discover passions that ultimately fuel their desire to pursue careers in STEM fields. The IU Northwest Summer STEM Camp is now in its second year.

Palmer is one of those students positively impacted by this early exposure to STEM fields. In college, she intends to pursue biotechnology. Merging her interests in both computer science and biology, Palmer is interested in incorporating technology into the body, such as prosthetics that can be controlled by the brain.

Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) is leading the $4.8 million Indiana STEM Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) initiative. The alliance is comprised of six institutions across Indiana, Ball State University, Indiana University Bloomington, Indiana University Northwest, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Indiana University South Bend, and Ivy Tech Community College, Indianapolis.

About Indiana University Northwest
One of eight campuses of Indiana University, IU Northwest is located in metropolitan Northwest Indiana, approximately 30 miles southeast of Chicago and 10 miles from the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The campus has a diverse student population of approximately 4,000 degree-seeking students and 1,500 dual-degree-seeking students. The campus offers Associate, Baccalaureate and Master’s degrees in a variety of undergraduate, graduate and pre-professional degree options available from the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Health and Human Services, the School of Business and Economics, and the School of Education. The campus is also host to IU School of Medicine-Northwest-Gary, which actively involves students in research and local healthcare needs through its four-year medical doctorate program. IU Northwest emphasizes high-quality teaching, faculty and student research and engagement on campus and in the community. As a student-centered campus, IU Northwest is committed to academic excellence characterized by a love of ideas and achievement in learning, discovery, creativity and engagement. Indiana University Northwest is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer committed to achieving excellence through diversity. The University actively encourages applications from women, minorities, veterans, persons with disabilities, and members of other underrepresented groups.