COSAM News Articles 2022 June High school students complete unique, advanced educational experience at Summer Science Institute

High school students complete unique, advanced educational experience at Summer Science Institute

Published: 06/09/2022

By: Leslie Leak

Thirteen rising juniors and seniors representing six high schools across Alabama and Georgia completed a week-long Summer Science Institute held June 5-11 on Auburn University’s campus. Hosted by the Office of Outreach in the College of Sciences and Mathematics, or COSAM, the institute is a science program held annually for students with a high aptitude and interest in the fields of science and math.

Summer Science Institute partners students with Auburn University science and math research faculty to engage in topics more advanced than what is typically taught in a public or private high school environment. Through lab instruction and unique, hands-on learning opportunities, they get to explore cutting-edge science in research areas across COSAM’s five departments.

This year, institute participants experienced a reptilian lab, a biomimicry lecture, a herpetology hunt, solar energy experiments, color-changing electrochemical displays, undergraduate research talks and much more. COSAM Leaders Owen Harris and Ashtyn Phillippi led students on a tour of COSAM facilities, and students participated in a Camp War Eagle pep rally at the stadium, giving them glimpse at campus life. During the week, students were housed in campus dorms just like college students.

In one lab session led by Byron Farnum, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and Ryan Comes, assistant professor of physics, students learned how to harvest solar energy and store it in the form of a battery. They conducted experiments with solar garden lights, gaining valuable knowledge about energy conservation, storage and utilization.

“I like that we’ve been able to learn about so many different areas of science throughout this week,” said Dani Kim, a student from Grissom High School.

Kim, along with Serenity Griffin from LAMP High School, worked together to conduct an experiment to figure out solar energy conversion efficiency.

“The small size of our group has allowed us to bond quickly with students from other high schools that we just met,” remarked Griffin.

Chris Grieco, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and graduate student Abdul Rashid Umar led a session where students constructed circuits to grow green polymer film and explored polymerization, electrochemistry and spectroscopy.

Students residing in Alabama or Georgia and entering their junior or senior year of high school are eligible to apply to the institute each year, and a limited number are chosen on an academically competitive basis. Participants attend the institute at no cost with fees financed by grants and other sponsoring organizations at Auburn University.

To learn more about the program, visit the Summer Science Institute website or contact Mary Lou Ewald, COSAM director of outreach, at ewaldml@auburn.edu.

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