Enviro Research Camp is a scientific field research camp. The project is hosted by Regional Science Consortium and the Friends of The Tom Ridge Center at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center (TREC) in Erie, Pennsylvania. The camp targets college-bound high school students with an interest in science careers. Students have the opportunity to work in small groups with a college professor and undergraduate/graduate students on local scientific research. Each group is presented with an environmental problem they solve by creating an experimental design of the project, determine relevant data to collect, and then present their conclusions to an audience of their peers, family, teachers, and local researchers and environmental managers.
Enviro Research Camp is led by the camp coordinator, 4 professors (representing 4 universities), and 4 undergraduate/graduate students. There are approximately 5 high school students per group. This allows for the high school students to have one-on-one interaction with their lead professor. This also requires each student to fully participate in all aspects of the data collection and analysis. The design of small group size allows for a maximum learning experience by the student resulting in ownership, confidence, and a true understanding of the material being taught. The data collected by the students contributes to larger research projects that are currently being conducted by each of the professors.
The schedule for each day includes lecture, field and laboratory work, lunch, and an environmental adventure activity. Students participate from 8:00 – 4:30 daily. Previous research topics for the four groups have included:
- Erie County stream health assessment
- Limnology and fisheries comparison of nearshore and offshore habitats
- Effects of invasive Round Goby on native fish habitat and diet in local streams
- Effects of invasive Phragmites vegetation on native plants and wetland habitats
Previous environmental adventure activities have included:
- Mysteries of the Great Lakes movie at the TREC Big Green Screen Theatre
- TREC Garden Tour
- Birding with Purple Martin Conservation Association
- Guided tour canoeing through Presque Isle State Park lagoon system
- Fly Fishing techniques
At the conclusion of the week, each group presents their project by giving an overview of the project, data collection and analysis, and their conclusions in the lecture hall (room 112) of the TREC. Presentations last approximately 20 minutes, and each student presents a portion of their group’s project. Audience members include family members, teachers and school board members, environmental managers, researchers, RSC board members, and Friends of TREC board members.