As a teenager with interests in science and an obsession with paleontology (Dinosaurs!) from the age of 3, I knew getting outside to dig up fossils was something I needed to do. With the help of my parents and relatives, and scholarship programs, I was able to attend multiple outdoor science programs during high school. These camps provided some of the most impactful experiences in my life. From friends who became co-workers, then professional colleagues, to new skills, increased confidence, and a burgeoning love of field work, the personal growth I underwent still amazes me today. Moving on through undergraduate and graduate degrees in earth and life science, improving my teaching skills and conducting my own research, I held my enthusiasm for the benefits of science education in outdoor settings.
The Sternberg Science Camps are a realization of these experiences, providing my own twist on the science education camp formula. For our youngest students, we strive to stoke senses of wonder, excitement, and fascination in the classroom and out on our nature trails. Moving into junior high and high school, students take their first steps into earth and life science field work. In addition to advanced science content, students are taught how to operate respectfully and professionally in field settings. I place a heavy emphasis on making observations and asking questions in all of the camps. I believe this is the best opportunity for students to learn. If they ask, they want to know, and the answer can inspire new questions. This is how science works, and students are taught how to hone and focus their questions, as one would in doing research.
Skill-building is also central to the experience of our middle and high school students. We provide authentic, professional-grade equipment in all of our field camps. Students are trained to use all of the camping and field science equipment attached to their respective program in a safe, responsible manner. These skills are not just important in the context of the work done in the camp programs. They can open doors to future opportunities in high school, college, and into jobs and careers. Beyond technical abilities, we also work with students to develop their initiative, teamwork, and leadership skills that are crucial in any field. My goal is to make sure every student who participates in the field camps has the chance to strengthen their self-confidence, learn how to best pursue their academic goals, and discover as much as they can in their time with us.
From the Sternberg Museum, my staff of colleagues and former students, and myself, we look forward to welcoming you to the Sternberg Museum Science Camps!
Sincerely, David Levering
Sternberg Museum of Natural History