Northwestern holds science academy for high school students

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Northwestern holds science academy for high school students

July 3, 2012 

  Science Academy at Salt Plains
High school students attending a summer science academy at Northwestern Oklahoma State University keep notes of their observations while touring the Great Salt Plains Wildlife Refuge.
 Science Academy at Longfellow
High school students listen as Longfellow Elementary School students read to Pistol, a service provider dog, during a summer science academy held at Northwestern Oklahoma State University. The camp explored the benefits of human-animal interaction. In the background is Tom Barry, a 2012 Northwestern graduate from Waukomis.

Twenty-four high school students recently participated in a new summer science academy held at Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva.

Titled “Exploring the Benefits of Human-Animal Interaction,” the academy was offered free due to a two-year grant from the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. It was directed by Dr. Sherril Stone, associate professor of psychology at Northwestern, with assistance from Dr. Karen Linstrum, also an associate professor of psychology.

The students were all 9th and 10th graders from across Oklahoma. In addition to seven participants from Oklahoma City, other towns represented were Ames, Blanchard, Chickasha, Claremore, Coweta, Douglas, Edmond, Enid, Fort Cobb, Jenks, Lawton, Perkins, Ponca City, Tahlequah, Weatherford and Yukon. Students stayed in university housing and ate on campus.

Participants learned basic concepts of human-animal interaction; the benefits of animals in human psychological, physical and emotional health; the role of wildlife on human health; research design and statistical concepts; data collection; observational research; computer use; and presentation. Students also learned more about careers in math and science to foster a desire to attend college and pursue such careers. This academy's goal was to enhance students’ mathematical and scientific reasoning abilities.

Highlights of the week-long camp included performing the scientific method of natural observation at the Great Salt Plains Wildlife Refuge—including a little time digging selenite crystals—and in-class study of the similarities between human and sheep brains.

The campers assisted Longfellow Elementary School students in reading to a dog during a visit to the school. Linstrum said Reading Education Assistance Dogs has much information available concerning the benefits of reading to an animal. The high schoolers accompanied two dogs and a rabbit to Beadles Nursing Home for interaction with the residents.

The animals belong to Stone and the dogs, Pistol and Pete, are registered service dogs.

The students also taught Dog Bite Prevention at the Lutheran Church Day Care and walked through the caverns at Alabaster Caverns State Park.

“These campers are awesome!” Linstrum said. “I enjoyed participating with them in the activities and was impressed with their interactions and interpersonal skills with the Longfellow Elementary students, as well as the senior citizens at Beadles.”

“I also was impressed when the campers voluntarily donated more than $75 of their own money for Relay for Life. Lives were positively affected because of this camp,” Linstrum said.
Stone will conduct another summer science academy at Northwestern in

013. For more information about this camp, interested persons should contact her at (580) 213-3119 or by email at