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Kids and plants: The Summer Science Camp for Elementary School Students
C. SMART (1), S. Reiners (1). (1) Cornell University, Geneva, NY, U.S.A.

To enhance K-12 science literacy, scientists at Cornell University’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station have partnered with the Geneva City School District in Geneva, NY.  The goals of this program are to (i) engage elementary aged students in a hands-on, inquiry-based study of science; (ii) generate awareness of how food is grown and where it comes from; and (iii) increase student exposure to agricultural sciences and related careers. Beginning in the spring of their third-grade year, students are visited by Cornell faculty and learn about and plant seeds, they take a field trip to Cornell’s Geneva campus (about 0.5 miles from their school), and the students plant a vegetable and flower garden at their school.  During the summer, students have the opportunity to participate in a 5-week science camp run by school district faculty and scientists from Cornell. We have seen several positive outcomes from this program, including increased student knowledge, based on pre- and post-tests given during the Summer Science Camp; increased enrollment in local 4-H programs; and an increase in the proportion of students who pass the fourth-grade science test mandated by New York State. In addition, this program helps plant pathologists and other scientists from Cornell foster good relationships with, and increase their impact in, our local community.

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