SODUS — “Investigate. Collaborate. We are doing science!” shouted the Sodus youngsters, many in white lab coats, in the gym at Sodus High School Thursday morning.
And they were — from investigating flooding along the Lake Ontario shoreline to selective breeding of apples at a popular fruit farm to the benefits of school recess.
Over 40 Sodus students in grades 5 to 8 took part in hands-on research during the week-long summer camp, Get Real! Science, which wrapped up yesterday with presentations in the gym. The kids who took part were to be treated today with a trip to Sea Breeze Amusement Park.
The camp was led by graduate students from the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education training to become science teachers.
April Luehmann, associate professor at the Warner School, created the program more than a decade ago. She said this is the third year the camp has been held in Sodus, done in partnership with the school district.
The camp provides a learning opportunity for both the kids and the UR students, she said.
For kids, she said, “the best way to learn science is by doing.”
And for the UR students, it’s their first chance to use the teaching techniques they’ve learned.
“They are going to be science teachers one year from now,” she said.
UR student Oswaldo Aguirre said it was a great experience for him, ahead of the student teaching he’ll be doing this fall.
“I had fun, the kids had fun,” Aguirre said.
One of those who had fun — and learned plenty along the way — was Asuka Ricart, who will be an eighth-grader this fall at Sodus.
She was part of the investigative team that Aguirre helped oversee. Their group probed the benefits of recess, and they used scientific testing to prove its value. Ricart determined that when taking part in physical exercise, her memory improved as well as her mental acuity.
“It made me excited about learning,” she said. “You feel pumped.”
And while Ricart said history is her favorite subject, the science camp has given her a greater appreciation for the subject.
“She was on it all week,” said Aguirre. “She was one of the smartest people in our group.”
Another team looked at the issue of lake flooding, learning high water levels are damaging the shoreline in 2019.
Among those taking part in that research was Kobey Hammond.
“We went to the beach and looked at what was going on,” he said. “The water eroded the sand.”
Trips to Sodus Point Park’s beach on calm and high wind days were presented. Students observed the damage the beach incurred during rough-weather days. They observed that those high waves magnified the already high lake levels and brought the waters close to homes along the beach.
Farther inland, students examining selective breeding did some of their research at Burnap’s Fruit Farm in Sodus, where the team learned the ins and outs of fruit farming, including how different varieties of apples are developed.
“We were trying to make the perfect apple (for Sodus),” said student Amari Streeter, who said students decided that if you combined two New York favorites — the Macintosh and the Empire — you could have one tasty result.
UR student Ryan Cates said they also learned a bit about grafting, a process by which farmers take a cutting from an apple variety and graft it onto a rootstock. They also got a look at hydroponic farming (no soil) at Burnap’s.