John Tolley, August 20, 2017

From computer bugs to real life creepy-crawlies, middle and high school students from across Nebraska and beyond got a chance to dive head first into scientific research thanks to the Young Nebraska Scientists camps operated by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and its partner institutions.

At the middle school level, students were afforded the opportunity to plug in to the burgeoning world of cybersecurity at CyberCamp UNK, held at the university?s Kearney campus. They were aided by professors and counselors as they learned the ins and outs of computer architecture, embedded systems hardware and network concepts. CyberCamp also offered the students a chance to flex their critical thinking skills by presenting them with common problems faced in the cybersecurity industry.

On the flagship Lincoln campus, Dr. Karin van Dijk of the biochemistry department hosted Life Underground: The Unseen Power of Microbes, an investigation of the tiniest of lifeforms. The camp, for high schoolers in grades 9 through 11, dug deep to help students visualize how microbes interact with other forms of life, plants in particular. Utilizing state-of-the-art technology, students were able to study the intricate biology of a variety of microbes.

When not immersed in their scientific studies, students got a chance to bond with like-minded peers in a university setting. With all but one of the six camps being held at a college or university, students bunked in dorm rooms and completed their work in college classrooms and labs. For many, it was their first taste of college life and glimpse of things to come.

While the camps of 2017 have come and gone, information about future camps and registration can be found at the Young Nebraska Scientists website. The site also includes resources for educators looking to host a mobile lab module for their students during the school year. The mobile labs range from basic DNA analysis to bacterial transformation.