Bertram Rantin

June 19, 2014

RANTIN: Camp program offers practical lessons for learning

Lexington-Richland 5 summer program gives students hands-on lessons in potential careers.

The reality of the morning exercise was rarely more clear.

“Oh, I just heard something snap,” a wide-eyed middle school student announced with a mixture of awe and mild disgust, all the while pulling open the jaws of the cadaver pig in front of him.

The eye-opening moment at Lexington-Richland 5’s Center for Advanced Technical Studies was exactly the kind the school district was hoping for as it launched its Summers @ The Center camp program this week.

Featuring such activities as animal dissections and film production, the four-day camp that concluded Thursday provides hands-on lessons in possible careers. It’s also being used as a recruiting tool for the center as it introduces middle school students to programs offered there during the school year.

“These are not typical camps,” said Al Gates, the center’s assistant director. “We want the camps to be really exciting, learning-filled experiences for these middle school students so that they leave saying ‘I can’t wait until I get in the 10th grade so that I can take that class.’ It’s also a service to the parents of our district, who need something for their kids to do in the summer that’s different from traditional camps.”

This year’s programs included Camp Operation and Future Film Makers Camp.

During Camp Operation, students dissected animal parts and organs to learn how the various body systems work together as they also learned how to identify the various organs and perform autopsies.

“We wanted this to be fun for the students but also something they can learn from,” said Julie Krusen, a biomedical science instructor at the center and the district’s 2013-14 teacher of the year. “They’ve seen it in paper. They’ve seen it on models. All these are hands-on lessons that will expose them to bioscience and give them a glimpse of classes we offer here.”

Earlier in the week, students explored the inside of cows’ bones as they scraped marrow and studied the layers and structures. The camp also included a study of eyes, hearts and brains.

CrossRoads Middle School student Carolina Culbreth said the camp has helped cement her desire to become an orthopedic surgeon, after she broke her arm two times in the past year and required surgery after the second break.

“I really liked my surgeon so I decided that’s what I wanted to do,” she said. “I think this camp has helped me understand more of what I would be doing (in that field).”

During Future Film Makers Camp, students were introduced to movie-making, as they each produced a short film.

“Most of the students here are interested in film-making as a career, so the camps are appealing to them because they want to be creative and learn the technology,” said Ashlon Langley, a media technology instructor at the center. “Plus, the students actually think it’s a fun thing to do during the summer.”

Tripp Montgomery, a rising Spring Hill High School ninth-grader, said he had long thought he was up to the task of film-making after seeing his share of bad movies. But he said he’d developed a greater appreciation for the work that goes into the art after working this week on his own film, “Super Therapy.” Among those challenges, he explained, was finding just the right place to drop-in the sound.

“Really, holding up the film mic(rophone) is really challenging,” he said.

In Montgomery’s short film, he presents the story of a superhero who seeks the services of a therapist to help her get a date.

The Center for Advanced Technical Studies, which opened in August 2012, helps high school students build technical skills, gain professional certifications and earn college credits. The center’s offerings include biomedical science, auto mechanics, alternative energy, wielding, law enforcement, graphic design, agricultural science, culinary arts and veterinary science.

The district plans to expand its summer camp programs next year and while the pilot program was restricted to district students, the program will be open to other students in the future.

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