Stanford science summer camp preps inner-city kids for higher education

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KTVU) -- A local summer camp is immersing students in the world of science and celebrating success. Students from Oakland and the Peninsula are spending the week at Stanford University attending a program called 'Science In The City'.

“Today we learned about polymers. A polymer is a chain of monomers that are bonded together using molecules,” said 11-year-old Parker Ashton.

This isn't your average science camp. Sure there's lab experiments and plenty of lab coats, but these classes are more engaging and exciting, according to the kids of course.

This is the 6th year, leaders with Science in The City have created a week-long program at the Stanford University campus, where 5th and 6th graders can experience something they never knew was possible.

“One thing I really liked was when we get to hook up wires and we learned about circuits and we were able to play piano with marshmallows,” said 11-year-old Jahziel Pabonramos.

Until now, marshmallows were only for eating, and red plastic cups were mostly used for drinking or stacking. For Wednesday’s lesson, those cups were used in a vortex experiment.

“The goal is to push the smoke out of the bucket so it hits the cups and knocks down the cups,” said 12-year-old Kai Derouen.

Preparing these inquisitive minds for a career in STEM is the purpose of this program.

“Most of these kids, if they're lucky will get a science lesson once every two weeks. So in the week we have them, we'll engage in 16 to 17 science lessons,” said Bryan Brown, Associate Professor of Science Education in the Stanford Graduate School of Education.

Continuing that education throughout the year, given their dynamic backgrounds is the ultimate goal.

“One of our challenges is preparing these kids beyond a week so we're thinking about incorporating family science night and then partnering with schools to develop more complimentary science programs throughout the Bay Area,” said Brown.

All 35 of the students come from different backgrounds. Some are inner city kids with little access to STEM programs, while others attend schools with million dollar science facilities. Each one of them shares one thing in common: a love and passion for science.

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