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

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.


From Camp into the Wild!

Today, the 2015 delegates learned more about “How Molecular Medicine and precision Genomics will Revolutionize Cancer Therapy” from Dr. Chuck Clevenger of Northwestern University. Genomics are rapidly progressing, leading to massive changes in the way doctors are able to deal with cancer. Later, cancer is brought up again in Dr. Rick Walker’s Lecture “Why We Won’t Find a Cure For Cancer And Why We Don’t Want To”.  Although the topic is controversial, apparently it may be better to control cancer rather than to destroy it with chemotherapy.

Learning the basics of navigation!
And melting crayons!

Seminars were once again held by various staph members, including, but not limited to: crayon melting, creative writing, fly fishing, and Portuguese 101.  The delegates also received their outdoor orientation, which included how to put together tents, use a portable stove and water filter, and, most importantly, to make a “phone call” (code for using the bathroom in the woods). Just after dinner, they selected their overnight trips, which included: hiking, biking, climbing, or caving.

Due to overnight trips, look out for the next update on June 23rd!

Lectures on Ebola, Statistics, and Technology!

Today the delegates enjoyed lectures by Dr. Jim Tucker, a Senior Biospheric Scientist for NASA, Dr Aaron Morris of Autodesk, and Dr. Alyson Wilson of North Carolina State. Dr. Tucker’s lecture, entitled “Ebola Virus Outbreak: Where, When, and Why?” informed delegates of the intricate complexities of the Ebola virus. Dr. Aaron  Morris dove into the practical uses of his state of the art 3-d modeling technology. Dr. Alyson Wilson’s lecture, “Statistics and Big Science”covered her experience with air defense artillery systems.


The staph members hosted seminars today, covering a range of topics, including: Italian, Ultimate Frisbee, Dance Dance Revolution, and Business 101. Many delegates have also joined the National Youth Science Camp Choir, which had its first rehearsal today.

Ian Lawson from New Jersey playing frisbee.



Delegates Start Directed Studies! Get pumped!

The 2015 delegation had their first “typical” day at NYSC today, though no days are really “typical”. They embarked on their first of three days in directed studies offered by guest scientists.  This block’s directed study options for delegates include:

Ss and Science Policy with Dr. Alyson Wilson
The Science of Reality Computing: Turning Things into Data, Data into Things, and What Happens in Between with Dr. Aaron Morris
Photovoltaic Power System Design (plus some other fun solar energy stuff) with Mr. Jeff Gilbert
Structural Biology in Post-Genomic Era with Dr. Pam Twigg
Cybersecurity with Ms. Diane Miller and Mr. Terry Levoy
Holography with Dr. Ralph Oberly
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
Mr. Jeff Gilbert's guides students through his directed study on Photovoltaic Power System Design.
Mr. Jeff Gilbert’s guides students through his directed study on Photovoltaic Power System Design.
Naathan Mohan working in the Cybersecurity directed study
Naathan Mohan working in the Cybersecurity directed study.

In the afternoon, staph members offered seminars in a variety of areas, including acapella, table-top Role Play Games, and Origami. The evening lecture “Paradise Under the Knife,” by Mr. Allan Daly, discussed his work as the Medical Mission Coordinator for the Marovo Medical Foundation, in the Solomon Islands.

Students during the Science of Reality Computing directed study
Students during the Science of Reality Computing directed studyRohith Venkataraman participates in a Structural Biology directed study

Rohith Venkataraman participates in a Structural Biology directed study

Delegates Arrive to Camp Pocahontas!

Meals in the University of Charleston Ballroom
Meals in the University of Charleston Ballroom

The 2015 delegation woke up this morning at the University of Charleston and began their day on campus, with breakfast, a lecture, and lunch.  The Martha Wehrle Opening Lecture at the University of Charleston Ballroom by Charles Patton, the President and COO of Appalachian Power, was a great start to the 2015 National Youth Science Camp (NYSC).

Delegates as they arrive to Camp Pocahontas
Delegates as they arrive to Camp Pocahontas

After lunch, delegates and staph boarded sleek and shiny coach buses to head towards Camp Pocahontas.  The evening activities included dinner, a camp tour, official staph introductions, evening snack (the Pluto of meals), and finally cabin meetings.