For the fifth year, the NIMBioS Education and Outreach Team headed to the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont in June to help Girls in Science campers analyze stream biodiversity data using mathematical biology concepts.
During the week-long resident camp, the 24 girls, ages 12 to 15, worked in teams to collect data from two stream locations in the Smokies on type and the abundance of salamanders and stream invertebrates. Beforehand, the girls formed hypotheses for comparing biodiversity in the different streams. On the final day of the camp, Associate Director for Education & Outreach Suzanne Lenhart and Education & Outreach Coordinator Kelly Sturner taught the girls about the exciting world of mathematical biology and how to analyze and interpret their collected data using Simpson’s Index of Biodiversity.
NIMBioS returns to Tremont every year to help, but this year’s camp was particularly exciting. One innovation was that the girls had been working on research projects of their own design that lasted throughout the week, working as real young scientists. The other was the greater age range of the students: 12 to 15, instead of 12 and 13 year olds, which made for a more exciting dynamic where the older girls assisted their younger teammates. “I love math!” exclaimed one participant, giving Sturner a high-five. A heart-warming card arrived in the mail at NIMBioS a week later, signed by all the girls, who wrote, “Thank you for teaching us how to analyze our data!”
A second camp takes place July 28-Aug 2, and there may still be room! Contact Tremont today to inquire and sign up your girl, or keep it in mind for next summer.