Summer STEM program ends with a celebration banquet

Jul 03, 2018

The 2018 Investigative Summer STEM Program (ISSP) ended on a note of celebration Thursday, June 28, wrapping up another successful year of exploring STEM fields with high school sophomores through seniors.

ISSP was created with high school students in mind with the purpose of creating a higher interest in the STEM fields, and motivating students through experiences and activities. The program hopes to garner more attention toward the STEM career fields within a younger audience.

The Fred C. and Mary R. Koch Foundation once again sponsored this year’s program.

The summer camp is one of the most popular ones that take place on campus during the summer. Throughout the two-week program, students experience campus life by living in the dorms, and they participate in lab experiments, science and math exploration activities, listen to guest speakers, take tours of outside STEM facilities and perform research for their final project presentation at the end of the program.

This year, the students received a special treat when scientists from Koch Industries visited the Bishop Gerber Science Center to do some experiments using the labs and equipment at Newman.

Cole Warner will be a senior at Girard High School starting fall 2018. He said projects and connecting with other teenagers with similar interests was something he highly enjoyed.

Cole Warner ISSP
Cole Warner (far right) attends the ISSP Banquet with his family. Left to right: Penny (mom), Bruce (dad) and Ethan (brother).

“Professor (Ryan) Huschka really made an impact on me and my group,” said Warner. “He really helped us a lot, especially with our presentation. Our project research was a lot of fun and a lot of math. I didn’t expect it to be that much work, but I learned a lot.”

The students’ time on campus wasn’t all study and work, however.

Newman senior Jonathan Serrano-Ramsey and junior Marisa-Nicole Zayat were this year’s ISSP counselors. Together, they created a “Hunger Games” theme, incorporating many theme-based, fun activities for the campers to participate in when they weren’t developing their skills in the labs.

A trip to Wichita’s Tanganyika Park, a tour of Rockwell Collins, bowling, movie nights and s’mores night are just some of the  activities the counselors had in store. The students also made blankets as a service project to be donated to the Wichita Police Department. The blankets are given to children in difficult and sometimes scary situations to comfort them.

Tanganyika Park
The 2018 ISSP students visit Tanganyika Park.

Many of the students said their most memorable moments were those spent getting to know the other campers, but one, in particular, said his most memorable moment was getting down to the science.

“My favorite part of the program was the computer modeling of GFP, a protein that I got to work with,” said Jack Biggs, soon-to-be senior at Bishop Carroll High School in Wichita, Kansas. “I got the chance to mutate the protein via computer and mess around with it. I took one of the pieces out and it just fell apart, so it was fun to mess with. I’ve never worked on this type of equipment before. It was very new to me — and very exciting.”

Biggs was joined at the celebration banquet by his father and sister, who said she’s thinking about signing up for ISSP next summer.

Zayat said getting to know each of the kids at ISSP was also one of her favorite parts of being a first-year counselor.

“They have been a delight,” Zayat said. “They just made every part of camp so much fun and they bring so much energy to this camp.”

ISSP Counselors
ISSP counselors Jonathan Serrano-Ramsey (left) and Marisa-Nicole Zayat (right).

Serrano-Ramsey said this is his third year being an ISSP counselor and said he has a lot of fun organizing activities for the campers. But seeing the high schoolers learning on a college level is something he most enjoys.

“We organize a lot of activities, but it’s also fun to watch them learn and grow during the activities and experiments in the classroom as well. They are doing their own extensive research … and at almost a Ph.D. level.”