Payson middle school students recently participated in a four-day college science camp, hosted by Eastern Arizona College’s GEAR UP project, which aims to increase the number of students who attend college.
The “Summer Camp of Champions” hosted 50 middle-school students from within GEAR UP host Eastern Arizona College’s service area — Payson, Miami and San Carlos, among other towns.
The camp included workshops where the students learned about astronomers and their tools.
An optics session featured lessons on different telescopes, from simple lenses to modern optical designs.
Students learned about the types of objects in the sky — their location, distance, dimensions and what they look like. In another session, students built a Galileo Telescope.
This year marks the “International Year of Astronomy,” recognizing 400 years of the telescope, and on Thursday, July 16, students traveled to the top of Mount Graham for a briefing on the history and function of the Mount Graham International Observatory.
Students also met astronomers, scientists and engineers from around the world.
Eastern Arizona College received $4.1 million over six years for the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs grant.
Payson will receive $180,000 to work with this year’s eighth-graders to keep them in school, and hopefully enroll in college. The money, and coordinator Kristi Ford, started following the students as seventh-graders.