Forty junior high and high school students from northern Arkansas participated in science camps hosted by Buffalo National River and North Arkansas College this summer. These camps were organized as part of a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) learning partnership between the park and the college that promotes experiential education and scientific discovery in the outdoors.
During the Stream Ecology Camp on July 19, students spent the day electrofishing, identifying macroinvertebrates, recording water quality data, and collecting water samples with park scientists along the Upper Buffalo River at Steel Creek Campground. The Microbiology Camp on July 20 took place in the science laboratories on North Arkansas College’s South Campus in Harrison. Students processed and filtered water samples from the Buffalo, practiced a variety of analytical lab methods, and learned how to perform gel electrophoresis to separate and analyze macromolecules like DNA. The Cave Geology and Paleontology Camp on August 2 took place at Lost Valley and explored common rock types and characteristics of the Upper Buffalo region, the geologic time scale and fossil record, hydrogeology, and cave ecology.
In December 2016, North Arkansas College and University of Central Arkansas entered a Memorandum of Understanding with Buffalo National River for shared use and management of the Steel Creek Research Learning Center, a field station at Buffalo National River that students, faculty, and research organizations can use for park-based academic and research events. As this partnership continues to develop, further STEM learning opportunities—like this summer’s science camps—will be offered for area students.
Additional partners for this summer’s science camps included the O.U.R. Educational Service Cooperative, Arkansas Geological Survey, AmeriCorps/Geological Society of America’s Geoscientists-in-the-Parks Program, and the Buffalo National River Partners