Thursday morning, middle school students from around Georgia were studying spiders, water bugs and poison ivy in the woods just outside Statesboro.
Eagle Science Camp had set up shop at Bird Pond off Lanier Drive.
Now in its 13th year of providing rising sixth, seventh and eighth graders, Eagle Science Camp offers the opportunity for hands-on scientific learning mixed with a taste of the college experience.
Campers participate in three-hour exploratory labs in geology, chemistry, ecology, mathematics, physics, zoology, and computers. New to the camp this year is a paleontology lab, said Billy Tyson, a second-year camp counselor.
There are two five-day sessions of the camp. The first camp ran last week and the second begins on Tuesday. Each session takes a maximum of 24 applicants, Tyson said, and costs $375.
All of the labs are taught by professors in Georgia Southern University’s classrooms. Participants not only use the university’s academic facilities, but also live in dormitories, eat at the student food court, and are guided by GSU student counselors.
“They get to experience the college environment. They eat at the college food court, Talon’s Grille, Lakeside Café, and stay at Watson Hall,” Tyson said.
Camp activities are not limited to academics. Participants also take part in swimming, crafts and use the Recreational Activities Center. On Friday night campers are guests at the Georgia Southern Chemistry Club slime party, Tyson said.
“It’s fun because it’s not just classes all the time,” Molly Riebling, a rising eighth grade camper, said. “It’s also a social environment.”
Eagle Science Camp concludes with a Scientific Poster Conference in which students prepare movie presentations and poster displays using information from what they learned during the labs.
“It’s a great opportunity to keep them hooked on the sciences,” said Debbie Gleason, who oversees the camp for Georgia Southern Museum.
Rising sixth, seventh and eighth graders who have an A average in science and math courses from the previous fall semester and have two teacher recommendations are eligible to apply for one of the camp’s openings.
Because there are more applications than positions available, applicants must have a “real desire to learn,” Tyson said.
Eagle Science Camp is a program of the Georgia Southern University Museum and is sponsored by the Planters Telephone Cooperative, which provides need-based scholarships and helps subsidize the cost for the session, Gleason said.