During NOAA Science Camp we emphasize the importance of conservation, communication, restoration and solving problems rationally using the scientific method. The camp is structured using an integrated scientific method approach that provides for a hands-on way of teaching kids the proper structure of science-based problem solving.
The best part of the camp is the staff. I was able to work alongside some of the most respected scientists in America. I got to connect with scientists who had studied monk seals, arctic fur seals, swam with great white sharks, spent six weeks isolated in Antarctica, and even those who had worked in NOAA Corps. There were many tangible wonders onsite as well. I got to go inside a hyperbaric chamber, be towered by a dried out Baleen whale rib, listen to various marine mammal calls, experiment with telemetry devices, go inside the National Weather Center and even visit NOAA's portable sea labs. Some topics we tried to focus on were increased salmon spawn mortality rates, ocean acidification, bioaccumulation in marine mammals and the policy decisions behind restoration.
The kids were blown away by all the "fun" science they were being exposed to. The camp went beyond textbooks and worksheets and showed these children the fun and exciting "real world" of science. It was amazing to watch them make their presentation at the end of the week so enthused and excited about all they had learned. The campers' view of science changed from boring school subject to an exciting world of possibilities and it was really awesome to be a part of that outreach.