Science camp scholarships give students enriching summer experience

posted on August 7, 2012

Thirty-five middle school students from Red Cloud and OLL spent part of their summers participating in various science and engineering camps run by the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.

Their families were able to afford the camp tuitions as the students received over $31,000 in need-based scholarships. These funds came from three different sources: Red Cloud’s own 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant (21st Century CLC), the South Dakota Department of Education, and the School of Mines and Technology (SDSM&T) itself, through their partnership with Red Cloud.

The camps were each a week long, and focused on different aspects of science and engineering. Sessions that Red Cloud students took part in included:

- Youth Geology Field Camp, in which students learned about geology and topography, all while shadowing professional geologists in the field and camping out in the Black Hills.

- “Socket to Me” Computer Camp, in which campers learned about computer science and engineering, basic and web programming, and robotics.

- STEPS Engineering Camp, in which students were taught hands-on about various aspects of engineering, including materials/metallurgy, computer integrated manufacturing, and chemical engineering.

- Space Adventures Camp, in which campers learned about astronomy and cosmology, including a trip to the Air & Space Museum and a nighttime session at an astronomical observatory.

Red Cloud’s Director of the 21st Century CLC Grant, TJ Lynch, coordinated the application process from Red Cloud’s end. He is delighted that Red Cloud has continued to send a large number of students to take part in the summer programs.

Lynch said, “We believe that students who need leadership training the most are those who are noted as having the potential, but not yet having the confidence and skills to be leaders. Programs such as those offered at SDSM&T force students out of their comfort area of home and school on the reservation, and will provide the opportunity to expand their skills and perspective.”

Lynch pointed out that many reservation graduates struggle to adjust to their first year of college, as it is so radically different from the environment most of them have grown up in. Statistics show that students who participate in residential summer academic programs on college campuses have lower incidence of dropping out when they enroll as college students.

This particular program’s success rate seems to bear that out. According to Nancy Anderson-Smith, the Director of Youth Programs and Continuing Education at SDSM&T, of the students who participated in their summer residential camps, 95% went on to college.

Lynch also explained that one major focus of Red Cloud’s 21st Century grant is to promote opportunities for students from both elementary schools – Red Cloud and Our Lady of Lourdes – to work together. The school believes that getting to know each other at the elementary level will help the students to see themselves as part of one greater school community. This will benefit the students when they go to Red Cloud High School together, and increase overall retention rates within the school system.

Ale Rama ’19 attended Space Adventures Camp with four other Red Cloud students. His favorite part of the experience was hearing about the Moon. When asked what he learned the most about, Rama said “We learned the most about novae [nuclear explosions in white dwarf stars] and the Mars rover [“Curiosity”, which successfully landed on Mars on August 5].” Rama said he believed that his time at the camp will be helpful to him in his science class during his upcoming 6th grade year.

To learn more about SDSM&T summer youth programs, go to: