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UTSA hosts governor's science-tech academy

By Kris Rodriguez
Public Affairs Specialist

(July 12, 2008)--The UTSA College of Sciences will welcome 25 of the state's brightest high school students to participate in the first Governor's Science and Technology Champions Academy July 27-Aug. 1 on the UTSA 1604 Campus.

Students will check in Sunday, July 27 at the Chisholm Hall residence facility before beginning a week of field trips filled with scientific discovery in San Antonio, San Marcos and Houston. The students return to UTSA on Thursday and Friday to participate in the "Robotics Challenge" and closing ceremony.

Sponsored by Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas Workforce Commission, the five-day residential summer camp brings together the first- and second-place finishers in the ExxonMobil Texas Science and Engineering Fair (EMTSEF), which was in April at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio.

Designed for participants to experience real-world science applications across the state, the academy has daily field trips to various destinations in San Antonio as well as visits to Natural Bridge Caverns in New Braunfels, Aquarena Springs in San Marcos and ExxonMobil in Houston. The students will use global positioning systems to guide them to their destinations.

With the theme "Fluids in Earth's Crust," the camp will emphasize oil, gas and water resources. The students will have the opportunity to witness how geoscientists look into the Earth's crust.

In addition to the field trips, participants will work on robotics projects using Lego Mindstorm kits. The kits allow students to assemble a robot, program a series of commands and use it to complete a variety of tasks including moving objects to target locations. The academy will close with a competition showcasing robots designed and built by the students.

"This academy aligns with the UTSA College of Sciences mission to establish a scientifically literate community through education and research," said George Perry , dean of the UTSA College of Sciences.

Organizers include Stuart Birnbaum , EMTSEF director and UTSA associate professor of geological sciences; Alan Dutton , UTSA Department of Geology chair; Pam Colby , UTSA College of Engineering program manager; and Tony Rivera and Kai Kamaka , UTSA College of Sciences.

Serving more than 5,000 students enrolled in nine undergraduate degree programs and 15 graduate programs, the UTSA College of Sciences is poised to prepare the next generation of scientists for careers in business, technology and academia. The college houses six departments: biology, chemistry, computer science, geological sciences, mathematics, and physics and astronomy.

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