Local teen runs science camp
April 5, 2018

Youngsters participated in a science camp at Benton House led by Girl Scout Madeline Reese.

Editor’s note: Local teen Madeline Reese is an Ambassador Girl Scout (the equivalent of an Eagle Scout for the Boy Scouts) with Troop 21186, and she ran a week-long science camp at Benton House in Bridgeport a few months ago. Her reflections are below. She will host another camp this summer. Benton House is at 3052 S. Gratten Ave. Call (773) 927-6420.

I have always been passionate about science, so when I began to think about a project for my Girl Scout Gold Award, I knew I wanted my focus to be in science. I find the subject fun and interesting, but not all kids have had the same experience and exposure to science in school that I have had.

To enrich students’ backgrounds in science, cultivate a positive attitude toward the subject, and to promote curiosity, I created a week-long science camp for third through fifth graders that I ran in August 2017 at Benton House, a small non-profit community center in my Bridgeport neighborhood. This center provides a safe space for children, cultural activities for neighbors, and hosts a food pantry. Toni (Maria) Berrios, president of Benton House, and Board of Directors member Mary Murray assisted me with the promotion and supervision of the camp.

I spent hours researching science experiments in various fields of study, since it was important to me to provide the kids with exposure to more than one area of science. I structured each day’s experiments around the following branches of science: chemistry, 

physics, meteorology, biology, and astronomy.

In order for the campers to feel like real scientists during the week, I reached out to Ingredion Inc. for donations. Ingredion, headquartered in Westchester, IL, is a company that employs various scientists to research and manufacture starches and sweeteners and nutrition ingredients. The company was able to supply me with safety goggles and notebooks for every science camp participant. I also contacted Home Depot, which donated bug boxes, paint, and aprons. I used money earned from babysitting and Girl Scout cookie sales to purchase the necessary supplies and materials.

After publicizing the camp in my neighborhood,  I was excited to work with a group of ten curious kids who worked hard and cooperatively together to discover more about science. Aside from leading the experiments and discussing the outcomes, I also taught the group about lab safety, the scientific method, different jobs in each science field, and famous scientists.

My objective was to foster an interest and excitement in science and to introduce young children to how fun the subject is. At the beginning of the week, I gave the group a small survey asking them about their interest in science. Most results showed that their interest was low or moderate. By the end of my camp, they were given the same survey. These new results demonstrated that the kids’ feelings toward science had peaked to a new high. Everyone told me how much they loved the camp, and some of the kids even taught their families what they learned by replicating our experiments.

I learned a great deal through this experience, not just interesting science facts, but important life skills such as how to manage my time, create a budget, collaborate with adults, and write professional letters.  My goals were exceeded with the camp, and I was thrilled to see that I had, in fact, sparked a greater interest in science. All in all, I am glad I was able to share this experience and my love of science with kids within my community, and I look forward to hosting a similar camp again this summer.