While their classmates were enjoying their last weeks of summer vacation, a group of 20 fifth- to eighth-graders turned their attention Friday to explaining tube-and-shelf and microchannel conductors.
The group was participating in the Exploring Microtechnology Camp, organized by Oregon State University’s STEM Academy, in partnership with the Microproducts Breakthrough Institute at the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI) on the campus of Hewlett-Packard.
The nonprofit STEM program (formerly the Saturday Academy) seeks to encourage the study of science and technology in students by partnering them with professionals for workshops and classes in the professionals’ workplace.
The five-day camp was held from 1 to 4 p.m. each day and wound up Friday. This is MBI’s first year hosting a camp for STEM Academy.
The nonprofit program did just what it was intended to do — it fired up the students about science.
“We built a heat exchange conductor,” said Barron Egna, 11, of Corvallis. “They are used to heat and cool stuff.” Holding the long silver tube-and-shelf conductor, Barron pointed to the end of the tunnel. “The water goes in there, and comes out warm or cold, depending on what you want.”
Barron, who will be entering the sixth grade at Ashbrook Independent School next month, said that science is his favorite subject.
Other students interested in pursuing careers in the sciences crowded around computer screens Friday as they put finishing touches on their camp presentations.
Kathyleen Hu, 14, of Corvallis, said her favorite parts of camp were when she got to use her hands as well as her mind.
“I really liked when we went to check for leaks in pipes, and we used a soap solution. If there was a leak, air would be flowing through, and we would know because it bubbled.”
Hu has big dreams for after she graduates from high school.
“I want to study aerospace engineering at college, hopefully attending MIT,” she said. “I think it’s fascinating. In that program you use a lot of applied and theoretical physics; I like the idea of making things in space work properly.”
In all, STEM Academy hosted 333 kids this summer during 19 different camp sessions, said Cathy Law, the director of STEM Academy.
“I hope we get to join again with MBI and ONAMI; this camp has been really great.”