St. Francis College Hosts Summer Science Academy
Leah Schmerl
Kathleen Nolan, Allen Burdowski, Victoria Ruiz

Crime scene analysis, investigations of water quality, and geodesic paper dome folding are just three of the dozens of scientific-learning sessions currently immersing nearly 50 high school students, as part of the Summer Science Academy hosted by St. Francis College.

For the twentieth year, SFC has organized a two-week curriculum that allows students who have completed at least one year of high school to gain hands-on experience with a range of scientific topics.

Under the instruction of College faculty, this year's online curriculum covers the biodiversity of coral reefs, the physics of sound, and viruses' effects on the human body, among many other topics.

"Summer Science Academy is a flagship event for St. Francis College, and I am proud to be part of the team that initiated it two decades ago," said Kathleen Nolan, Ph.D., Chair of the SFC Biology and Health Promotion Department. "Our goal is to fuel passion for scientific learning that can open doors for further education and potential careers. We emphasize hands-on experiments that show students how science factors into so much of what they encounter in this world. It's all about seeing science through a new lens and having fun with it."

Daily one- to two-hour sessions each cover a different topic, during which students engage in games, virtual displays, discussions and experiments that they conduct together and independently. This year also includes a virtual field trip to the Clearwater Sloop on the Hudson River.

The final day culminates with student groups sharing presentations they developed over two weeks, featuring proposed three-day eating plans that meet United States Department of Agriculture nutrition guidelines and cost about $100.

Students enrolled in the non-credit-granting Academy come from high schools in Brooklyn and other New York City boroughs and pay nothing to attend. This year's instructors include Dr. Nolan; Allen Burdowski, Ph.D., SFC Dean of Sciences; Victoria Ruiz, Ph.D., SFC Assistant Professor of Biology; Noemi Rivera, SFC Biology Department Assistant; and Michelle Batchu, SFC Adjunct Biology Instructor.

The 2020 Academy runs from July 6 to 17 for about five hours each weekday and, for the first time, is being held fully online.

Pictured above, l-r: Kathleen Nolan, Ph.D., Allen Burdowski, Ph.D., Victoria Ruiz, Ph.D.