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By ALAINA BARTEL
Daily News Staff Writer
Class of 2017 Ketchikan High School graduate and Syracuse University freshman Cameron Edwards represented Alaska and Ketchikan at the 2017 National Youth Science Camp in Green Bank, West Virginia, this summer.
Edwards, who is studying to be an environmental engineer, joined 108 other delegates from 50 states and eight countries in the prestigious annual STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) program. The event takes place in the Monongahela National Forest and provides learning opportunities through STEM presentations and outdoor activities.
“We had some really cool presenters come, like the chief scientist for the International Space Station came, and one of the guys that helped pioneer stem cell research came and he talked about stem cells,” Edwards said.
As a part of the event, the students travel to the nation’s capitol in Washington D.C., which is only five hours away from the camp. Each year, West Virginia’s senior member of the United States Senate honors the delegates with a luncheon attended by other members of the U.S. government.
“We heard John McCain talk. We went to the senate building and there’s a senate luncheon, and all of the senators are invited but it was the day that they were voting on the health care bill, so no one really came,” Edwards said. “Our nurse went and she was trying to find senators to come and talk … and she found John McCain, he was walking out of the bathroom.”
For nearly a month, the delegates attended lectures but also experienced the beauty of the West Virginia outdoors through backpacking, caving, mountain biking and rock climbing. Edwards said she particularly enjoyed the outdoor activities, but also learned a lot at the event.
At her favorite presentation, which she said wasn’t necessarily scientific but rather related to the scientific community, she learned about teaching. Specifically, the lecturer talked about how to look at information and to question everything that they read, and how to change someone’s perspective, and what they believe to be true, without saying they’re wrong.
The camp is attended by graduating high school seniors with high achievements in STEM fields. The future STEM leaders are selected on merit, with the program provided to them at no cost, including travel, removing any financial barriers for attendance, according to a statement from the NYSC.
“This is a unique experience for these amazing students and one that can impact them for the rest of their lives,” John Giroir, director of the NYSC, said in a statement. “Cameron is (an) excellent example of the kind of student who participates and goes on to significant achievements in the STEM fields.”
The National Youth Science Camp is operated by the National Youth Science Foundation. To apply for the NYSC, visit www.apply.nysc.org. To learn more about the programs and work of the NYSF, visit www.nysf.com.
“A couple of people from Ketchikan have gone. It’s for graduating seniors, I would just encourage them to apply,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun, I made a lot of friends and I made a lot of connections that will last me a lifetime. It’s such a big community of people, I’m really glad I went and I’m glad I applied.”