Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs 519 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

April 26, 2006

U of G to Host Science Camp for Grade 7, 8

A duo of science demonstrators, a jazz-singing physicist, and an aboriginal role model will inform and entertain the hundreds of Grade 7 and 8 students from across Ontario who are coming to the University of Guelph this spring to participate in S@GE 2006. More than 20 schools, including six aboriginal schools, will participate in the three-day camp sessions that run from May 3 to June 9.

Diane Nalini de Kerckhove, a U of G physics professor and jazz singer/songwriter, is eager to let young people know that it’s possible to have a career in science and maintain an interest in the arts. De Kerckhove, who will give a talk at the closing ceremonies of S@GE, is about to release her third album, Songs of Sweet Fire, a collection of 15 Shakespearian sonnets and songs set to original jazz, funk and blues music.

“I'm looking forward to taking part in S@GE because I love speaking to young people and I believe that the sooner you can switch them on to science, the better,” she said. “Women, especially, need to realize that it is an exciting and rewarding career option, and that they can do just as well as men in math, physics and chemistry. Those areas are traditionally more male-dominated, so it's important to dispel biases as early as possible.”

The Science @ Guelph Experience, now in its eighth year, is a residential science and technology program co-sponsored by the Office of Open Learning, Conference Services and Student Housing Services. Groups of up to 35 students participate in one of the seven three-day sessions. They get a full university experience staying in residence with their teachers and parent chaperones, eating on campus and experiencing interactive learning using University computer and laboratory facilities.

Also participating in this year’s camps are two members of U of G’s Department of Physics who have been delivering the “Fantastic Physics Fun Show” to elementary schools for 20 years. Tom Kehn, the undergraduate laboratory supervisor, has am M.Sc. in physics. Prof. Ernie McFarland is associate chair of the department.

“Tom and I enjoy interacting with the young students and feel it's an important way to generate interest in science,” said McFarland. “Our show features lasers, liquid nitrogen – at -196o C it sends a chill down everyone's spine – and a host of other scientific wonders.”

Last year’s S@GE celebrity, Cara Ann Wehkamp, a PhD candidate in environmental biology who has been nationally honoured for her work in promoting the advancement of aboriginal post-secondary students and aboriginal culture, will also take part in this year’s camp.

“Cara was definitely at the top of our list for one of this year’s S@GE celebrities because of how successful her presentations were last year,” said Richard Louttet, a program development manager in the Office of Open Learning. “Grade 7 and 8 students tend to be fascinated by space, so Cara’s research on growing plants for a journey to the planet Mars is of particular interest to the students attending S@GE.”

The learning modules are designed along the themes of the Ontario science and technology curriculum to promote intellectual creativity and a sense of discovery. The modules are developed by U of G faculty and are typically taught by graduate students or fourth-year undergraduates doing research in the subject area. Participants can use research equipment or resources that provide a practical hands-on approach to learning.

This year’s topics include “The Science of Photography,” “Geology: Frozen in Time” and “Veterinary Science: From Cows to Turtles.” In “The Geography of Natural Disasters” module, this year’s participants will use U of G’s physical geography lab to simulate tsunami waves and feel hurricane-force winds. They will also see sound waves in “The Physics of Music” module.

For more information on S@GE, visit or call Louttet at (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53133.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rachelle Cooper, Ext. 56982.

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