Greene County Math & Science Camp
PO Box 70
Eutaw, AL 35462
Greene County suffers from what the USDA has referred to as a persistent cycle of poverty. The percentage of children below the poverty level is extremely high (44.6%), as reconfirmed by the 2000 US Census results, and exceeds that of some Third World countries. If our county is to break this dismal cycle, intervention is essential. A group of concerned parents, educators, and community leaders has reached the consensus that educational reform is fundamental for solving our county’s crisis. Regardless of one’s vantage point or political affiliation, authentic reform only occurs when regulations become flexible enough to allow for individualized learning, when money follows the child, and when schools have high standards they are required to achieve.
In addition, international studies show that U.S. students continue to lag behind the students in many of other countries in the crucial areas of math and science. American students—particularly students in the upper elementary grades—continue to need extra help in math and science skills.
Therefore, under the sponsorship of the Eutaw Area Chamber of Commerce, our project’s purpose is to offer our eleventh annual Math and Science Day Camp for Greene County students in grades 1 – 6.
Greene County ranks among the worst for children in poverty in the nation. Our isolated, rural area is predominantly African American (80.6%) with low levels of literacy (only 60% for adults). High dropout rates, youth unemployment, adolescent pregnancy, alcohol and drug abuse, absence of strong parental support, and lack of recreational options have lead to a crisis among our county’s youth today. Without intervention—beginning with our youngest students (as top educators agree)—our youth are ill fated for this new century. This Math and Science Day Camp represents a step toward educational reform for our county. Without outside support, however, we cannot meet this extreme need, and we will witness an even greater decline in the social and economic viability of Greene County in the 21st century.
GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
We seek to offer Greene County’s eleventh annual Math and Science Day Camp, an extended-day one-week camp for children entering grades 1 – 6. Modeled after the programs offered by the Alabama School of Mathematics and Science, our objectives are: 1) to produce an increase of student knowledge in the crucial areas of math and science and in test score as evidenced by improved grades during the academic school year; 2) to produce an increase in student appreciation of math and science, as evidenced by camper enthusiasm and returning campers from previous years; 3) to provide help with reading and writing skills; and 4) to provide, under the direction of a culturally diverse administration, faculty, and staff, a variety of educational and recreational activities daily in a wholesome, diverse setting.
From 7:45 a.m. until 2:45 p.m., June 18-22, 2007 we will offer hands-on activities and classroom instruction in Math, Science, Reading, and Writing. Our camp theme for this year will be “Exploring Alabama Outdoors.” Students will study the following units, highlighting the elements of their own backyard that we often take for granted:
- Entomology: This unit introduces students to the diverse world of insects through hands-on exploration and activities designed to explore insect adaptations and behaviors. Students will learn to see the world through the eyes of bugs and better understand their role in our environment.
- Forest Ecology: Take an in-depth look at the world of a forest ecosystem. The focus of this unit will be to explore the forest floor, learn the identifying characteristics of common species of trees, and learn about the process of decomposition in forests. Students will also enjoy a hike through seldom seen areas in Greene County.
- Lake Ecology: Take an in-depth look at the world of a lake ecosystem. The focus of this unit will be sampling the lake for aquatic organisms, identification of common aquatic organisms, and discussion of characteristics of lakes. Through hands-on activities and observation, students will explore freshwater ecosystems and become familiar with common characteristics and organisms of inland waters.
- Herpetology: Students get the opportunity to handle, observe, and learn about reptiles and amphibians. Characteristics and adaptations of each animal will be discussed, along with dispelling many of the misconceptions about these beneficial, but often-misunderstood animals.
- Ornithology: Students will learn about our avian friends, how to use binoculars and field guides, to observe and identify birds, and will learn how to make their own backyard a bird-friendly habitat.
Our activities and instruction will provide a challenging, yet fun, approach to improved learning in fields related to the various areas of Math and Science. Individualized tutoring will also be provided as needed for all campers. Students will receive personal attention, with small classes and an adult to pupil ratio of about 1: 8.
In addition, we offer a daily reading program that uses a system of prizes and incentives to help encourage and improve student reading. Tutoring is available for at-risk readers. This reading program also features community volunteers from many different walks of life, who read aloud to the campers, as well. In one past summer, our campers read over 10,000 combined pages of outside reading, an average of almost 170 pages per camper.
We will serve nutritious morning snacks consisting mainly of fruits and juices and a noon meal to be provided at no cost for our campers by the State Child Nutrition Program.
Each year we have provided a field trip for our campers. Last summer the children visited the Birmingham Zoo to study animal habitats. Field trips in previous years have included an ocean fossil dig, under the supervision of a geology professor from The University of Alabama and a field trip to the McWane Math and Science Center in Birmingham co-sponsored by Congressman Artur Davis’ “No Child Left with Anything to Do” initiative.
We have tentatively set the date of this year’s Math and Science Day Camp for June 18-22, 2007. We have a capable acting director, and several camp consultants including the Greene County Math and Science Day Camp founders and a former member of the Board of Director for the Alabama School of Mathematics and Science. We are in the process of contracting with three experienced lead teachers (pending funding) for the math and science portions of our day camp (one lead teacher each to teach math and science for grades 1 & 2, grades 3 & 4, and grades 5 & 6), as well as three co-teachers to help each class with reading and writing skills. For these last positions, we hope to employ graduate students from The University of Alabama. We are also accepting applications from college students who have a particular career interest in early childhood education to serve as teacher’s aides. We have potential facilities for our camp at Carver Middle School, which we have used as a site for prior camps. We are designing and printing a brochure, which will be placed in all area schools in May, and we will advertise by letter and application forms for parents of Greene County children who have attended the camp in past years. We will also advertise in local papers. This year, we hope to accommodate at least 60 campers.
For our eighth, ninth and tenth camps, the Greene County Board of Education donated the use of Carver Elementary School as our campsite. The second year, Community Services of West Alabama made available the Eutaw Headstart Center for our camp. For the next three years, Warrior Academy donated the use of its facilities for our camp. In year seven, we again used Warrior Academy. It is our intention to use Carver Middle School again this summer. This indicates support from the entire educational community in Greene County.
The camp is sponsored under the auspices of the Eutaw Area Chamber of Commerce, and we will once again solicit donations from chamber members and other community leaders. Most we have spoken with have indicated a willingness to help. Last year, chamber members helped provide student supplies like paper, pencils, and pens. We anticipate that they will do this again, as well as providing some financial help and student scholarships.
The major funding source of the Greene County Math and Science Day Camp has been the Alabama Power Foundation, whose ten year commitment of just over $100,000 came to an end last summer.
The remaining funds have been collected “door-to-door” more or less throughout the greater Eutaw community. We anticipate that local donations again will be limited and in the form of in-kind donations of school supplies, volunteers, and small amounts of money from several Chamber of Commerce members, local rotary club, and other community leaders.
It is our intention to secure a long term commitment from a new major donor in order to sustain another decade of the Math and Science Day Camp. We also aim to develop relationships with numerous individuals and organizations throughout the Black Belt to assist our campaign goals. Our campaign goal for June 2007 is $25,000. Our long term campaign goal is $250,000.