Chavis Avery, Van Dinh, Andre Easter and Kimberley Zuniga of Lincolnton recently attended the Summer Academy of the Carolina Institute for the Multicultural Approach to Science (CIMAS) at Lenoir-Rhyne College in Hickory.
As CIMAS scholars, they participated in a three-week residential program designed to increase interest in math and science among minority students.
Twenty rising ninth- and 10th grade minority students from throughout North Carolina were selected as CIMAS scholars through an application process. The CIMAS Summer Academy, held July 11 – 29, involved a variety of hands-on science activities emphasizing the excitement of problem-solving and inquiry-based exploration.
The CIMAS scholars studied mathematics and science through several hands-on activities. They used computers to solve real-life problems and practiced their problem-solving skills using math games.
They also conducted environmental research on the infamous Southern plant, kudzu. This vine, introduced into the southern United States in the 1930s, has the ability to grow a foot a day. The young scientists conducted lab and field work to examine the chemical make-up of the plant, to determine how fast it really grows, to see if it is possible to kill it, and to search for economic uses of the vine.
In Photographic Analysis class, the scholars learned how chemistry and physics are involved in photography. They took their own photos and learned to develop them in the darkroom.
The scholars also developed personal Web pages to showcase their research, used spreadsheets for modeling research experiments and presented research results using Power Point.
Later this year, scholars and their families will be invited to participate in additional workshops on campus. On these occasions, they will be able to interact with research scientists visiting campus.
CIMAS is designed to encourage talented minority students to enter college programs in science or mathematics and ultimately to pursue careers in these disciplines. Minorities are currently under-represented in many of these fields.
The CIMAS program is free to all participating students. All expenses are paid by Lenoir-Rhyne College and a grant from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, an independent, private foundation headquartered in Research Triangle Park, N.C., that supports biomedical research and science education activities.