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Quantum Camp 2024
Posted in , on July 2, 2024

Third annual Quantum for All Camp

Forget about band camps, art camps or sports camps.

You want to find a camp where students have a passion, attend a Quantum for All camp.

For the third-straight year, the district hosted a Quantum for All camp. This year’s camp, which is run in conjunction with the University of Texas at Arlington and the National Science Foundation, was at Young Junior High.

The 41 students who attended the four-day camp approached it with the same enthusiasm as students approach any other camp.

Quantum Camp 2024That’s true even if their explanation of what happens at the camp can fly right over your head. Don’t believe it? Here is sophomore Gavin Gilbreath-Mann’s explanation of one of the experiments they were doing at the camp.

“We have a piece of thorium in this little sack here, glowing orange, it’s causing alpha and beta particles to fall off, and some gamma,” said the STEM Academy at Martin High School student. “You can’t see those very well. You can tell the difference because the thicker of the two particle strands you can see is the alpha particles, which are essentially an ejected nuclei from an atom. The beta particles, the thinner ones, are just an electron shot out of an atom.”

While his description of the smoky container that had light bouncing around in it may sound foreign to some, it’s exactly what the campers and the 27 teachers and eight teacher leaders who come from across the country come to the camp to see.

The leaders teach the teachers for a week and then the campers arrive and learn from the 27 teachers. This year’s camp was a mix of the history – starting with the origin of a particle – and then applications that put scientific discoveries into action.

Longtime Arlington ISD teacher Karen Jo Matsler, who is the principal investigator/director for Quantum for All, looks forward to the camp because of the exposure it gives to the students.

“You have your sports kids, and then you have your more academic kids that want to do something and there aren’t a lot of opportunities out there until they get older,” Matsler said. “We want this to be something that’s appropriate for ninth and 10th graders. Everything we do is appropriate for them. These kids get it. That’s why they come back. To have these teachers work with these kids and see them get excited, it motivates the teachers to want to come back and teach it in the classroom. That’s where the rubber meets the road.”

Quantum Camp 2024Gilbreath-Mann is just one of the students who gets it. He was at the camp last year when the focus was more on quantum mechanics than the quantum chemical reactions like this year’s camp.

Campers were introducing different chemicals to flames to see how it impacted the color. There were Hot Wheels that were connected to magnets and getting pulled along a track. There was really something for everyone at the camp, which makes sense given its name.

“I came here because I wanted to learn more about science, because STEM is science,” said Maddox Michel, who will be a freshman at the STEM Academy at Martin High School. “I wanted to expand my knowledge.”

Michel’s favorite part of the camp was learning about the Higgs boson particle discovery in 2012. Another incoming freshman – Trinity Battle – liked learning about the bubble chamber.

“Camps like this are an equalizer,” Matsler said. “We try to make sure these kids see it. They feed on this.”

See more photos from the camp.