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Published April 22, 2021
A few select middle school students will have an opportunity this summer to explore exoplanets during the Windy Ridge Foundation Astro Camp July 11-17 on the University of Wyoming campus.
Twenty-four students from all backgrounds and economic statuses will be selected from Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska and South Dakota. The camp is free to selected participants. The application deadline is Friday, April 30. For inquiries, email Max Gilbraith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Campers, who will be entering seventh or eighth grade this fall, are chosen based on demonstrated interest and academic potential in math, science, astronomy and space. As part of the application process, students had to submit written essays on why they wanted to attend the science camp.
“There are still openings available,” says Danny Dale, a professor in the UW Department of Physics and Astronomy, and interim dean in the College of Arts and Sciences. “This camp is definitely a highlight of the year for me and the camp staff.”
Exoplanets are described as planets outside our solar system, meaning they orbit a star other than our sun, Dale says. Astronomers have confirmed more than 4,000 exoplanets orbiting distant stars, with many more exoplanets waiting confirmation, he adds.
Dale says he wants camp attendees to take away “a joy for science and exploration in general; an exposure to college and UW, in particular; build their self-confidence and independence; and have fun.”
The camp includes three in-service Wyoming science teachers and five UW students, who will serve as camp counselors. On-campus housing and dining will be provided for attending students. Field trips to the local mountain ranges are likely.
In 2020, the Windy Ridge Foundation made a $500,000 gift to support the Windy Ridge Foundation Astro Camp, which aims to educate the next generation of scientists and engineers while introducing the K-12 community to science programs offered through UW.
Last year’s Astro Camp was to be the first funded by the foundation gift, but the camp was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dale says.
“The Windy Ridge Foundation gave us enough funding for five years of camp,” Dale says. “This will be our first year funded by Windy Ridge.”