University of Rochester

Get Real! Camp Mixes Fun with Science as Kids Stir Up Waters at Charlotte Beach

July 17, 2007

Free Environmental Camp for Middle School Students Begins July 23

A day at the beach takes on a whole new meaning for middle school campers participating in this year's Get Real! Environmental Action Camp. Middle school students from The Harley School's Horizons Student Enrichment Program, a community outreach program committed to supporting the academic success of urban students, will investigate and test the water quality of Charlotte Beach at Lake Ontario and then create multimedia Public Service Announcements (PSAs) to share their findings with the community on the camp's last day, August 1.

The Get Real! Environmental Action Camp, which is guided by graduate students at the University of Rochester's Warner School of Education, was developed to help engage middle school students in real authentic investigations about science problems and how to effectively share their knowledge with the public through influential media techniques that are not often found in their classrooms.

"By giving middle school students the opportunity to become water quality scientists for one week, they learn how to design and participate in their own field experiments, use scientific technology, and most importantly develop a rich appreciation for the exciting role science plays in our daily everyday life," said April Luehmann, assistant professor in teaching and curriculum at the Warner School. "The students also have fun learning how to present science in more imaginative and relevant ways through a media literacy component."

The water quality of Charlotte Beach was the target of last year's camp, and because there continues to be concerns over the high levels of E. coli in the water, students will test the Charlotte water woes again next week. Wearing chest-high hip waders and using secchi disks, middle school campers will work during the morning sessions to collect water samples at the lakeshore and then test them in laboratories on the University of Rochester's campus.

By working on their PSAs during the afternoon sessions, students will learn about general media practices and techniques, experiment with digital equipment and software, and understand the various roles that media editors, producers, script writers, and directors play in the process. At the camp's final session on Aug. 1, middle school students will present facts and data to guests and community leaders about the water quality, determine whether or not Charlotte Beach is unfit for swimming, and share recommendations for improving the current beach conditions.

Middle school students are not the only ones who will benefit from this program. Equally important, the Get Real! Camp will give Warner graduate students, who are studying to be science teachers, the opportunity to learn new teaching techniques by using literacy-rich instructional experiences to enhance science learning for middle school students.

The camp is part of the larger Get Real! Science project, a teacher preparation program designed to engage students in real science. A brainchild of April Luehmann, the Get Real! project is grounded in authentic experiences that include the summer Get Real! Science Action Camp, Science STARS (Students Tackling Authentic and Relevant Science) program, and more. Daily photographs from the camp and entries can be viewed on the Get Real! Science Web site at

About the Warner School of Education
Founded in 1958, the University of Rochester's Warner School of Education offers master's and doctoral degree programs in teaching and curriculum, school leadership, higher education, counseling, human development, and educational policy. The Warner School of Education offers a new accelerated option for its Ed.D. programs that allows eligible students to earn a doctorate in education in as few as three years part time while holding a professional job in the same field. The Warner School of Education is recognized both regionally and nationally for its tradition of preparing practitioners and researchers to become leaders and agents of change in schools, universities, and community agencies; generating and disseminating research; and actively participating in education reform.