High school students find Life's a Lab at UW-Green Bay health sciences camp

For the aspiring health professionals at one of UW-Green Bay’s newest summer camps, daily activities like dissection, experiments and real-life field experience are only part of the draw. Equally as important for these 34 high school students is the chance to bond with teens like themselves — fellow campers who love medicine and can’t wait to make it their career.

“It was really cool just to see all the people here, and how they all share an interest in medicine,” said 18-year-old Jason LaFave of Escanaba, Mich. “You don’t feel as dorky talking about, ‘oh I’m so excited to cut open a cat, or sheep heart tomorrow, guys, it’s going to be awesome.’ Like, it’s cool.”

Dissection and related activities are just one part of “Life’s a Lab Reality Science,” the UW-Green Bay summer camp now in its second year on campus. Thanks to a partnership with Bellin College, UW-Green Bay faculty members are able to pair hands-on lab experiences with community-based tours in a variety of fields. Students encounter numerous health-related professions including oncology, radiology, sports medicine, emergency services and more.

“I would say about half of the group that we have this year, they know they want to be in the health sciences, but they don’t exactly know what profession they want to go into,” said camp co-director Amanda Nelson, UW-Green Bay assistant professor of human biology. “So this is kind of an ideal place for them, to expose them to a number of different careers.”

It’s also a place for campers to experience new things, such as viewing a human cadaver, going on real medical rounds and even witnessing an actual open-heart surgery. About half of the students stay on campus during the three and a half day camp, offering an even greater opportunity to meet fellow science-loving teens. After a successful pilot session last year, Nelson said the camp will continue for 2012. The only problem, it seems, is how time flies.

“The whole thing is just way too fast and way too fantastic,” said 17-year-old Darian Janus of Raleigh, North Carolina. “I can’t even put it into words.”

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