This week in Iowa we started advertising for NCSE’s Science Booster Club Project summer camp. We are really excited about this camp, which will give local kids, especially those from rural school districts, the opportunity to participate in a week-long daycamp. We’re going to go to museums, tour state and university labs, and meet lots of real scientists doing their real scientist thing. We’ll also go on hikes to do some observational work of our own, learning about both of extant and extinct local ecosystems through exploration of our Devonian fossil gorge with trained experts.
The cost of this camp? Completely free. We have tons of volunteers putting in tons of hours, and we’ve been extremely fortunate to have the support of many generous funders both local and global, including the European Society for Evolutionary Biology, Integrated DNA Technologies, ACT, and Rockwell Collins.
This camp is going to be awesome. We’re giving kids an enrichment opportunity they might not otherwise have had, and removing financial barriers will hopefully get kids involved who wouldn’t otherwise be able. But I am not just thinking about the kids.
One of the lamentable elements of the creationism/evolution divide is the perception occasionally found in certain members of both groups that the other group is a horrible group of horrible people who are also mentally deficient and probably suffer from unspeakable personal habits. A lot of outreach from the scientific community ends up preaching to the choir, as it were, and does not allow us to really connect with people outside of our existing spheres. My hope is that by providing fun, exciting opportunities, like NCSE's Science Booster Club Project summer camp, to families and communities well outside the world of evolution insiders, we can build more human connections.
If we can help a handful of kids get exposure to STEM careers at a formative age, learn about evolution and climate science in a non-stigmatizing environment, and have a good time, that’s fantastic. If we can make an impression on a community—show people that we care about them, that we are capable of doing something useful and positive that actually impacts their families’ lives—that has a much greater potential for change.