Students design rockets to launch for a competition amongst themselves at WSU PREP summer camp on Wednesday, July 15. (Richard Campos / The Signpost)
Students design rockets to launch for a competition amongst themselves at WSU PREP summer camp on Wednesday, July 15. (Richard Campos / The Signpost)

The phrase “summer camp'”may kindle memories of tents, s’mores and sleeping out under the stars, but for one group of 72 students in the Ogden and Weber school districts, camp this summer will consist of math, science, technology and engineering.

WSU PREP is hosted by the College of Applied Technology and Science, College of Science and the Weber and Ogden school districts.

The camp is free for students. Parents only need to provide lunch and transportation.

WSU PREP is a three-year program for the students involved. After beginning sixth grade, students will attend their first year of camp. The second year will host a new group just finishing sixth grade as well as the same group from last year, who, by then, will have completed seventh grade. This cycle continues into the third year with new sixth-graders and returning seventh and eighth-graders.

“The idea is to help prepare kids before they reach the high school level,” said Dana Dellinger, director of the WSU Center for Technology Outreach. “We see a lot of students at the  college level who already seemed resigned to the idea that they are bad at math.”

The camp consists of intensive math, problem solving and intro to engineering classes. Any student who wants to participate is required to have a B or higher in math, as well as a teacher recommendation.

“This is a camp for the intellectually curious,” Dellinger said.

Students are taught how to make robots perform tasks at the WSU PREP summer camp on Wednesday, July 15.  (Richard Campos / The Signpost)
Students are taught how to make robots perform tasks at the WSU PREP summer camp on Wednesday, July 15. (Richard Campos / The Signpost)

Each day begins with a career awareness speaker at the Lind Lecture Hall. After the presentation, students move into the first of three classes of the day: Logic and Its Application to Mathematics, Introduction to Engineering and Problem Solving I.

Wendy Brown, whose son David is attending WSU PREP, said that his experience has been nothing but positive.

“He has such a fire in his eyes when he speaks about what he’s learned,” said Brown, who is a special education major at Weber State.

Heidi Pifer, the mother of 12-year-old WSU PREP student Sharrai Pifer, appreciates the field trips that occur at the end of each week.

Trips this summer have included the Museum of Natural Curiosity at Thanksgiving Point and Sci-Tech Day at Utah Valley University where the students were able the view the Hubble 3-D movie.

“Sharrai has loved the field trips,” Pifer said. “She hasn’t come home from a single one disappointed.”

The career awareness speakers that begin the days give kids a glimpse into their field and how they got to where they are now.

Wendy Brown said that the speakers have a receptive audience in her son. “They have really opened his eyes to the possibilities that are out there for him,” Brown said. “The camp has helped to broaden his imagination and has shown him what can be in his future.”

Pifer has enjoyed seeing her daughter participate in WSU PREP and says the staff go above and beyond to help the kids.

“There was one day Sharrai had forgotten her lunch,” Pifer said. “She didn’t have lunch money either, so I called Dana Dellinger, the director, and Dana offered to lend Sharrai some money for lunch and allow me to pay her back later that day, so Sharrai could eat with the rest of the kids.”

It’s just part of the job, Dellinger said. “Our goal is to make them confident and competent in math,” said Dellinger.

In addition to Dellinger, the staff includes two high school teachers, one junior high school teacher and seven college students, who are near-peer mentors.

Camp also included a visit from WSU President Chuck Wight.

The camp began on June 9 and will run until July 22, when the closing celebration will be held at the Shepherd Union from 6:30-8 p.m. Campers will show off their skills in math problem solving, robotics and rocket engineering.

For more information about WSU PREP and how your child can be involved next year, visit the site at http://www.weber.edu/wsuprep.

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