Normally about this time of year the National Youth Science Camp would be welcoming youthful scientists from around the world to the hills of West Virginia.
This year, as with almost every aspect of life, that has changed.
The National Youth Science Camp, which was created in 1963 as part of West Virginia’s centennial celebration, had to cancel its on-site program this year. This is only the second time that the annual program has not been held in the Mountain State.
“While it is disappointing that the delegates to the 2020 NYSCamp won’t immediately be able to visit our beautiful state, I am very pleased that we have been able to pivot from our traditional residential program to this very impressive virtual program so quickly,” stated Andrew Blackwood, executive director of the National Youth Science Foundation.
Usually, the camp features interactive experiences with top scientists and outdoor adventures.
The camp announced in mid-March that it would cancel the traditional, four-week on-site programs this year as a precaution because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The camp is still going on, but through a virtual series of learning experiences, including a lecture series, directed studies, breakout seminars and more.
Dr. Julie Robinson, the former chief scientist of the International Space Station, presented the opening lecture on Tuesday and explored the realities of human space exploration.
Participants include 108 delegates representing the United States, Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago. The 2020 Virtual NYSCamp features a lecture series, directed studies, breakout seminars, special events and a panel discussion with STEM policy experts.
More topics range from exploring and understanding the vastness of space to the microcosms of potential COVID-19 treatments.
Brian Kinghorn, director of the camp, noted that “these NYSCamp delegates are some of the best and brightest STEM students from across the nation and deserve to be recognized for their potential for leadership and achievements.
“The virtual camp will provide them with opportunities to interact with STEM experts, build lasting friendships, and get a jump start on changing the world for good.”