Each year, Newman University hosts the Investigative Summer STEM Program (ISSP).
The camp allows high school students a chance to experience an immersive college experience, living in residence halls and attending classes, lectures and activities on campus — all while exploring science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.
This year, 26 students attended the ISSP; three of them came from another state.
One of those students, Abigail “Abby” Klapp from Monument, Colorado, said her trip to Kansas only took three hours thanks to her private pilot — her dad.
A plane ride might make things faster but Klapp said there are a few downsides to that travel option, like not having a bathroom or food stops. And then there is the occasional delay.
“Our landing clearance at Wichita was delayed,” explained Klapp, “because of a turtle on the runway. We waited while they rescued the turtle and then landed.”
Klapp said she heard about ISSP during a college fair at her school that Newman University participated in. ISSP along with other programs and student activities were advertised.
As someone who has a heart for science, the ISSP brochure placed on the table that day caught her attention — her interested had been piqued.
Klapp saw the experience as a way to meet new people in a different state while exploring her interest in the STEM fields. She said she made some new friends along the way and has kept in touch with a couple of them since they have parted from camp.
Klapp’s father added his appreciation for the program. “These college STEM camps inspire curiosity through the hands-on laboratory portions while also exposing them to campus life and the expectations of college students. Unlike high school science classes with scripted lab projects, the projects don’t have clear cut answers already given to the students.”
Luke Schroeder, student at Bishop Carroll Catholic High School in Wichita, Kansas, said he heard about ISSP from a friend who had already signed up. He said the decision was a good one. The experience of being a college student for two weeks was fun and informative.
Schroeder said his lab experience was the most eye-opening, working with a mock crime scene and investigation.
“I was in the blood splatter analysis group for forensics and I liked that. That was pretty cool because … I’ve watched a lot of crime shows, so that kind of piqued my interest at the start. Then I figured out there’s a lot more math involved than what they show on TV.”
The camp ended with a traditional banquet for the students and their families, during which awards were presented and families were able to hear from ISSP professors about the two weeks their students spent on campus.
Stacy Jones, professor of biology and ISSP organizer, said, “One of the goals of this program is to just help students realize the soft skills within the different STEM fields and how to use those skills to work as a team. The blessing of the program is that you get to find out what you’re attracted to within the STEM fields … and what you really don’t like.”