National Youth Science Camp of 2015 comes to a close

Though most wish that camp could last a forever, all good things must eventually come to close. Bye to all the delegates, hope you enjoyed Camp!


Delegates are now scattered across the United States and the world. The students now head to their bright future in colleges, but they share the unique summer experience. They lived in cabins together, went on wild overnight experiences in each others company, and united as one delegation learned so deeply about the problems of the world. One common thread of all NYSC delegates is a desire to change the world. These ambitious students yearn to use their education not for any trivial means, but to make authentic changes in the future. Environmental damage, disease, poverty, and hunger are just some of the problems these delegates must address, but these problems are left in enthusiastic and surprisingly powerful hands.

Camp is temporary, but knowledge and friendships last a lifetime.


“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” – Albert Einstein.

Trip to DC a raging success!

Delegates arrived back from Washington DC last night! The trip was a riveting experience for the delegates. From the world famous National Mall, to the awe inspiring Smithsonian museums, the delegates were treated to the full experience. Delegates pounded the pavement as they toured the nations capital, seeing iconic sites such as the White House and the Washington Monument.

The trip was highlighted by a Senate Luncheon. Senators and ambassadors stationed in DC were in attendance as the delegates were treated to a lecture by the one and only Dr. Francis Collins. Dr. Collins holds an extremely impressive resume, as the former director of the human genome project that was completed in 2003, and now the president of the National Institutes of Health. His academic achievements are decent: A PhD in Chemistry from Yale, and a Medical degree from UNC chapel hill. Collins inspired the delegates with a narrative of his career, and encouraged them to think broadly in their studies of the sciences.

Overnighter #3 complete!

Delegates have now finished their third and final overnighter! This time an overnighter focusing on music at West Virginia University was added to the normal hiking, caving, climbing, and biking trips. Fortunately, the weather was more cooperative for overnighter #3 than for the rainy overnighter #2. Delegates were treated to the finest of the West Virginia wilderness while in the company of their peers and staph members. Many mountains were climbed, caves explored, and trails biked upon!

The delegates now have the 4th of July celebration and the trip to DC to look forward to!


Special Guests at NYSC & Overnighter #3!

Yesterday, July 1, the delegates and staph prepared anxiously for special guests to arrive to Camp Pocahontas.  After the morning lecture on Nuclear Waste Management by Dr. Mac Louthan, delegates completed their final day of directed studies.  After lunch, seminars were hosted by delegates, ranging from martial arts 101 to Zumba to fingerprint classifications.

Delegates during the Zumba seminar, hosted Marisa Lucht.
Delegates during the Zumba seminar, hosted Marisa Lucht.

The rest of the afternoon was spent cleaning up the cabins and getting dressed up in preparation for the special guests.  The evening included dinner and entertainment by the staph for the special guests and delegates.

The 2015 Delegation
The 2015 Delegation

This morning, delegates began their third and final overnighter for the summer!  Expect more updates when they get back!

Aerial Pictures of Camp Pocahontas

Taken during the directed study block on June 30, 2015. A perspective of Camp Pocahontas not seen by many before.

Wes Bush, CEO of Northrop Grumman, Visits Camp!

Lectures at camp are always given by accomplished individuals, but today, Wes Bush — President, CEO, and Chairman of the Northrop Grumman Corporation — graced camp with his presence. Northrop Grumman employs 68,000 people worldwide and was ranked 72 on the 2011 fortune 500 list. Mr. Bush delivered this afternoon lecture, giving an overview on his company and sharing his secrets of success with the delegates. He highlighted the James Webb Space Telescope, a machine dramatically more powerful than the Hubble and scheduled for launch in 2018. Mr. Bush also lectured on the capabilities of robotic airplanes, in which Northrop Grunman was able to launch and land on a aircraft carrier with a robot-controlled plane.

Stephen Chen from West Virginia introducing Wes Bush.
Stephen Chen from West Virginia introducing Wes Bush.

Delegates are also engaged in their last block of directed studies:

Design Thinking and Mobile Apps: prototyping and user-testing a mobile application with Ms. Emily Holmes
Introduction to Failure Analysis with Dr. Mac Louthan
Block Printing with Mr. Jordan Perry
Effective Leadership and Dynamic Followership with Mrs. Kristen Sanfilippo
Part 1: The Geometric Concept of a Number and the Quantum Mechanics of Spin with Dr. Garret Sobczyk
Compose Yourself: Music Theory Basics through Composition with Ms. Ashton Nicewonger
Solvent Free Microwave Extraction of Essential Oils from Plants with Dr. David Hackleman
The Great Outdoors: Hiking, Biking, and Climbing with NYSC Outdoor Staph
Kevin from California during the Introduction to Failure Analysis directed study.

The day ended with a lecture by Dr. Mac Louthan titled: “Why Stuff Falls Apart.” This motivational lecture discussed the six fundamental causes of failure in large engineered systems: deficiency in design, improper materials selection, defects in materials, improper processing, errors in assembly, and improper service.

Free time!



Delegates Conquer the Second Overnighter!

Delegates charged through uncooperative West Virginia weather during their second overnight camping trip. Students went kayaking, climbing, and hiking all over the woods in West Virginia. Hiking groups overcame high creek levels to succeed on the trails. Climbers gripped wet rocks to conquer challenging routes. Even the less than ideal weather couldn’t diminish the enthusiasm of this group of incoming college freshmen.  IMG_2465


Associate Professor at SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Dr. Nate Cady, presented this evenings lecture: ““Fighting Slime: Lessons from Nature on Combating and Embracing Bacterial Biofilms”. He disscussed his research in methods that combat biofilm. Oftentimes his methods are inspired from natural systems.IMG_2520

Directed Studies and National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO)

Delegates were woken up with a nice morning lecture. Today, the lecture was delivered by Dr. Earl Scime, the Associate Vice President for Research at West Virginia University. Entitled “Progress Towards Thermonuclear Fusion”, the lecture addressed the scientific journey towards controlled thermonuclear fusion. The second block of directed studies are:

Combinatorial Games with Dr. Walter Stromquist
Intro to Arduino with Dr. Paul Miller and Ms. Fran Poodry
Part I: The Geometric Concept of Number and the Quantum Mechanics of Spin with Dr. Garret Sovezyk
Recreational Mathematics with Mr. Steve Blasberrg
CSI Bartow: The Science Behind Crime Scene Investigation with Dr. Elijah Goodwin
Robotics Overdrive with Dr. Earl Scime
The Heart is a Pickled Thing with Dr. Kyle Duff
The Human Brain: Sampling Structure and Function! with Dr. Jim Culbertson
The Great Outdoors: Hiking, Biking, and Climbing with NYSC Outdoor Staph
Delegates during the Arduino Directed study

After an efficient hot dog lunch, the delegates ventured to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), yet another Out of Camp Experience (OCE). The delegation received a lecture on gasses and galaxies from Dr. Pisano of West Virginia University. After the lecture, they toured NRAO, visited the Green Bank Telescope (GBT) and its control room,  and manipulated a 20 meter telescope to make measurements. The day ended with Dr. Walter Stromquist’s lecture: “Mathematics of Fair Division”. The lecture focused on the importance of division problems. Two problems were singled out, one with coins, and another about cakes, pies, and cookies. The coins were an example of an NP-Complete problem, while the cake problem gave a metaphor for the conflict between equity and efficiency.

Jennifer Choy from North Carolina
Delegates at the NRAO


Concert in a Cave!

The morning started with a cinnamon roll breakfast and frisbee throwing as usual. Next, the delegates attended a lecture by Mr. Simon Soloko : “A New Media is Born – The Rise of Augmented and Virtual Reality”. After the lecture, the delegates were jerked back into reality with a second block of directed studies.

And then a cave concert.

Peter Mulvey in the Cave

Time to explain. After all the schooling, delegates were treated with their first Out of Camp Experience (OCE). The delegates had no idea what was coming. We threw them on school buses which drove off in no particular direction. Out of nowhere, pirates (staff) ambushed the vehicles and drove them towards the wilderness. Eventually the campers were dropped off at a seemingly random hill, and sent wandering over the mound straight into a cave. The delegates navigated through a tight crawlspace that opened up into a cavern. With the lights off, all the students were all seated on the rocky cavern floor. After a few moments of silence in the dark, the lights came on to show Peter Mulvey, world-famous folk musician. If you haven’t heard about him, check out his music here.  The acoustics in the cave were outstanding. The evening ended with a lecture by Dr. Zoon Nguyen on “Probability, Information, Entropy” which looked at probability from different points of view. The lecture also addressed the  concept of ignorance and the question of how information should be measured. A mouse interrupted mid-lecture, but stalwart Dr. Zoon Nguyen did not let the furry intruder disrupt his presentation.

Delegates in anticipation of the cave concert.

First Overnight Camping Trips!

Delegates came back from the Wilderness straight into Camp Pocahontas! They are returning from biking, climbing, and hiking trips scattered throughout the Monongahela National forest. The Monongahela National Forest is awesome–check out the photos below! The delegates turned campers spent the night in tents while exploring some of the most beautiful woods in North America. Although camping of this sort does not relate “directly” to science, the sights and sounds of the forest will hopefully inspire a natural curiosity into every delegate at the National Youth Science Camp.  It also gives the delegates the chance to face obstacles and work together as a group to overcome both expected and unexpected challenges.

Kasey Leavell from Montana enjoys the view



Quinn Zacharias from Florida is ready to roll!

After a long awaited shower and a hot meatloaf dinner, the delegates went straight to lecture. Sounds a bit harsh, but this is science camp after all. This evenings topic is Quantum Computing, delivered by Dr. Scott Aaronson from MIT. He addressed how computational complexity has been interacting with physics in unexpected ways.