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Future Rebels Come to Campus to Learn About Science

Rebel Science Camp uses hands-on learning — and cereal — to get kids involved with STEM education.

Campus News  |  Mar 31, 2017  |  By Shane Bevell
Student measures a cup of Rice Crispies

Rebel Science Camp presents students with real-world applications as to how science impacts their daily lives. (Josh Hawkins/UNLV Creative Services) 

Peer through a window at Rebel Science Camp and you’ll see elementary school students building an aquifer by layering Frosted Mini Wheats, Fruity Pebbles, and Rice Krispies in a cup.

The cereal serves as bedrock, gravel, and sand. This hands-on lesson is teaching fifth-grade students about groundwater and drinking water, and what happens when it rains and water percolates down through the Earth. 

Rebel Science Camp is the brainchild of assistant professor-in-residence Alison Sloat and associate dean Javier Rodríguez, both from the dean’s office in the College of Sciences. Rebel Science Camp is a standards-based outreach program designed to help fifth-grade students from schools in the Clark County School District increase their scientific literacy and critical thinking skills, and to foster their overall interest in the natural sciences, and in attending college.

Approximately 170 fifth-grade students from Dean Petersen Elementary School and Paradise Elementary School participated in the camp this spring.

“This event ties these students to the local community,” said Alicia Soto, fifth-grade teacher at Dean Petersen. “For many, UNLV is in their back yard, and being exposed to a college environment really opens their eyes to the reality of college, making it accessible to them.”

The students who participated in Rebel Science Camp visited the UNLV campus for around four hours, taking part in various hands-on activities. Under the supervision and teaching of nine student leaders, the students rotated between different activities: building an aquifer, climate change, color chromatography, cookie mining, and prevention of water pollution.

“Rebel Science Camp promotes and enhances STEM education in the elementary schools by exciting students’ interest in the sciences early-on in their academic careers, and by engaging students in hands-on activities that promote critical thinking and expose them to different fields of science,” Sloat said.

To be able to closely interact with the elementary students, Sloat trained and supervised nine student leaders, UNLV undergraduate students who assisted in Rebel Science Camp as part of their Science 499 – training in science leadership – course. These students are Clarisa del Toro, Donovan Guzman, Meghan-Riley Johnson, Shantel Mahalath, Ruvan Navarro, Myguan Trinh, Erika Torres, Francisco Valenzuela, and Clarice Wheeler.

Future Rebel Science Camps will be offered in spring 2018, when different CCSD schools will be invited to participate.