Biologymade ‘cool’for happycampers |

Biologymade ‘cool’for happycampers

Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson Guy Sappington, left, scoops up DNA samples from a cow's thymus as Malachi Anderson holds onto a glass slide during Brainteasers science summer camp Tuesday morning. They then took turns examining the sample under a microscope.

Assembling a mouse skeleton out of owl vomit and pulling apart a cow gland might make some a little queasy.Not for the kids at Brainteasers, a summer science camp this week in Silt, who showed no trepidation in unlocking the secrets of the biological world – “snot DNA” included.”This is so cool!” said Alex Boland, 9, of New Castle. Hunched over a heap of mouse fur and tiny bones, Alex carefully extracted a tiny jaw from an owl pellet – the bird’s regurgitated meal. “Look at this, I’ve got a jaw. I’m going to find a skull now.” A few feet away on the grassy lawn outside of Roy D. Moore Elementary School in Silt, Teagan Brown, 7, used tweezers to remove bones from his pellet. Cries of “I found another rib bone!” and “Another jaw bone!” filled the air from other campers, part of the 10-person class ages 5 to 9. “I like camp because there’s a lot of interesting stuff to do, like making living things from seeds,” Teagan said. His favorite project so far has been making a teepee out of marshmallows. “I ate some today, but that’s OK,” he said. New Castle resident Eli Bontrager, 9, walked around stirring his bones in a cup of water to loosen the fur. “I think this experience was a great way to teach kids about an owl’s digestive system,” he said.

The Science Outreach Center in Carbondale has organized the summer series of camps in Silt, Aspen and Carbondale for 19 years, including this week’s “Biology – The Study of Life.” Other camps include “Energetic Motion” and “Think Like an Einstein!””The whole premise behind Brainteasers is for kids to have fun by turning them on to science by discovering it – as opposed to telling them,” said Linda Singer Froning, director of the Science Outreach Center.Inside the elementary school, another class of nine kids, ages 10 to 12, delicately placed pieces of a cow’s thymus, an immune system gland, onto slides to examine its DNA under the microscope. The gland pieces, mixed with sugar, water, salt, detergent and ethanol alcohol, are dubbed “snot DNA” because of their resemblance to the bodily fluid. Kids could also view the triangular-shaped DNA through a video microscope, set up through a television in the classroom.”It’s really fun working with all the kids,” said New Castle resident Shane Abrams, 14, a camp intern. “I never knew that with household materials you could get DNA out of any cell,” he said, measuring sugar onto a scale.Camp instructor Grace Tennant, a 7th-grade science teacher at Glenwood Middle School, has taught a class at the summer camp for three years.”It gives me a chance to be creative and do things I’m unable to do in my classroom,” Tennant said. “I think the best part about it overall is getting to work with younger kids and pique their interest in science.”As the class cleaned up from their DNA experiment, kids gathered around Rifle resident Riley Fittz, 10, who carried her pet rat, Lien, on her shoulder.

“I came to camp last year and thought it was fun,” Fittz said as Lien crawled through her hair, whipping his tail. “I like building stuff.””I like the experiments we do,” said Erika Anderson, 11. “I like the thymus because it’s gross and it looks cool.”Attending the camp helps children understand the basics of science and the way the world works, Singer Froning said, in turn inspiring them to take part in their communities.And, of course, the kids get to look at all kinds of disgusting body parts.”On Wednesday or Thursday we’re going to dissect a pig’s heart,” said Silt resident Sierra Brown, 9, barely able to contain her excitement.Contact Christine Dell’Amore: 945-8515, ext. 535

cdellamore@postindependent.comat a glanceBrainteasers Summer Science Camp accepts kids ages 6 to 14.”Biology – The Study of Life” will take place at the Carbondale Community School July 5-9 and as a three-day Discovery Workshop July 12-14 in Aspen.The Science Outreach Center also offers “Beyond the Classroom,” an after-school program for children ages 6 to 10, and the JASON Project, a telecommunications program that follows research by Dr. Robert Ballard.For more information about any of these programs, contact Linda Singer Froning, 963-2922.For more information about any of these programs, contact Linda Singer Froning, 963-2922.

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