Campus News

Summer camp offers students pathway to BNMC

k2 boys with ACES camp shoot off a bottle rocket. UB faculty member Mark Swihart is in the background.

Students shoot off a bottle rocket they built as part of the BNMC ACES camp. Behind the boys is Mark Swihart, UB Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, who helped them build the rocket. Photo: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki


Published August 11, 2017 This content is archived.

“Engineering is so heavily involved in medicine now, that’s one of the points we want to make sure they understand. There’s a variety of careers that exist. ”
Sandra Small, science education manager
NYS Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences

The people at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC) realize that to continue thriving, they need to make sure there is an educational pathway local students can follow onto the campus. Teaching young people about the range of jobs on the campus is part of that mission, as is stimulating their interest in science, technology, engineering and math classes.

And simply getting them on the medical campus helps, too.

During the BNMC ACES camp this week and next, students are being exposed to a range of things on the campus, including touring and speaking with leaders from most of the participating institutions. A group of ninth-graders toured Buffalo General Medical Center, the Jacobs Institute and Buffalo Manufacturing Works at the beginning of the first week of camp.

“So far, I like cardiology and anything about that,” said Danya Flood, a student at the Research Laboratory Program for Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, a new high school located inside Bennett High School. Flood spent many nights at a hospital visiting her uncle when he was being treated for heart disease.

For Sean Gavin from Bishop Timon – St. Jude High School, building bottle launchers using PVC pipes and grill igniters topped the early list of camp activities. The campers, led by Mark Swihart, UB Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering and executive director of the New York State Center of Excellence in Materials Informatics, gathered in a small park and learned how powerful alcohol vapors can be. The plastic bottles, filled with vapors, blasted into the air when sparked.

“It’s scientific alcohol,” Swihart told the students. “If you drink it, you’ll go blind.”

The camp is a component of UB’s Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences’ (CBLS) partnership with the Research Laboratory Program. The new high school, beginning its second year, welcomes students from anywhere in Buffalo and offers a rigorous program in life sciences.

The school was started after students were brought to the medical campus for Genome Day, and school administrators saw the need for educational programs for those students interested in science.

More than half of the students in the summer camp are from the Research Laboratory Program, and attend class in the morning before camp begins.

The summer camp is a collaborative program with CBLS, Buffalo Manufacturing Works, The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, 43North, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Jacobs Institute, Kaleida Health and UNYTS. The students spend an afternoon at each of the institutions.

Sandra Small, science education manager at the CBLS and UB’s GEM Community of Excellence, said the students will complete a capstone project of making 3-D printed hands for kids in need of hands. As part of the preparation, they will go to the Buffalo Museum of Science to focus on hands, looking at bone structures and discussing structure and function of different animals’ appendages.

On the final day, they will present their hands and the career posters they are making.

“That’s really the focus of the camp: to make them aware of all the careers that exist here,” Small said. “We say it’s the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, but everything we have done up through the third day of the camp has been engineering-related. Engineering is so heavily involved in medicine now, that’s one of the points we want to make sure they understand. There’s a variety of careers that exist.”