Camp offers kids chance to use CSI techniques

NANAIMO – A unique summer camp aims to interest young people in science careers by involving them in forensic experiments.

Participants in last summer’s Geneskool camp

Participants in last summer’s Geneskool camp

A unique summer camp coming to Nanaimo aims to interest young people in science careers by involving them in forensic experiments seen on popular TV shows like Crime Scene Investigation.

Geneskool Summer Camp, presented by Genome B.C. and hosted at Vancouver Island University, offers high school students a chance to solve a ‘murder’ by conducting real experiments using state-of-the-art equipment.

Geneskool, which takes place July 23-27, is for Grades 9-12 students. Highlights of the week-long day camp include blood type analysis, blood spatter analysis and learning how to lift fingerprints.

“They’re going to be able to use equipment and technologies that are not available in most high school settings,” said Sally Greenwood, Genome B.C. spokeswoman.

Greenwood said the experiments are at a senior secondary level and the camp goes beyond the lab to explore science from social and ethical perspectives.

“Science is a part of every single thing we do, every day,” she said. “It’s not always about being in a lab, it’s about looking at the world through a scientific lens.”

On top of that, students create friendships with like-minded youth and get a chance to experience university life.

Sarah Marshall, a science teacher at Aspengrove School who works with Genome B.C. on some educational initiatives, said the camp gives students opportunities that no public or private school would be able to give them due to the more sophisticated equipment required and time limits.

“High school teachers don’t have time to do an experiment for four or five hours,” she said. “This is what real science in a lab looks like.”

Genome B.C. is only hosting two summer camps this year – in Nanaimo and Vancouver.

Greenwood said the organization picked Nanaimo because of its relationship with Vancouver Island University – some research conducted at the university is funded by Genome B.C. – and it hosted several in-class seminars in Courtenay and Campbell River schools that were well received by students and teachers.

Genome B.C. is a non-profit research organization that invests in and manages large-scale molecular biology research projects.

Greenwood said in addition to the research component, the organization tries to foster an understanding and appreciation of the significance of genomics science and technology among teachers, students and the general public and get the future generation interested in a career in this field.

To this end, Genome B.C. organizes summer camps and classroom visits or all-day seminars at university campuses.

“We do everything we can to drive curiosity and scientific literacy,” said Greenwood. “If we can help one or two or 100 or 1,000 kids get more excited about science … then we’re happy to do that.”

Cost of the camp is $275 and bursaries are available.

There are still 10 spots available. Applications are due July 13 and can be downloaded at www.geneskool.com.

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