Apoorva Parab, a sophomore at Nikki Rowe High School in McAllen, said she's always had an interest in science, but isn't sure what career she'd like to pursue.
That's why the 15-year-old decided to attend the Got Intelligence? 2011 High School Summer Institute held at The University of Texas-Pan American. Parab is one of 49 students from all over the Rio Grande Valley, as well as Houston and San Antonio, who participated in the weeklong camp that included scientific experiments and field trips to introduce students to intelligence-related fields.
"I wanted to try something new," said Parab.
The weeklong camp, which ran from Aug. 8-12, is administered by the University's Integrated Global Knowledge and Understanding (IGkNU) Collaboration.
Now in its fifth year, the Got Intelligence? institute introduces high school students to a variety of careers in the public and private sectors. UTPA received a grant from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to run IGkNU, and one of the requirements of that grant was to operate camps for youth, said Dr. Sandra Hansmann, IGkNU's director and associate professor of rehabilitative services.
"It exposes them to a lot of different kinds of applications that are all related to the same underlying concepts," Hansmann said. "Overall, it introduces them to the idea of the scientific method and to research. It introduces them to the idea that you identify a problem, you research that problem and then you identify solutions, and that those solutions have to be relevant to whatever your interest is."
Throughout the week, students participated in several activities, including attaching cameras taped to cut soda bottles with string to helium-filled balloons to take aerial photos, collecting water and plant samples to conduct tests, and creating solar-powered cars and wind turbines. Students also heard from representatives from federal and state agencies about the work they do.
Students said they enjoyed taking part in experiments and learning about the different types of careers available to them.
"I've always been into science, I've always been really good at it," said Oscar Paz, a 17-year-old senior at Weslaco East High School. "I enjoy just the fact that we're learning how to deal with the whole technology that we really didn't have before, like GPS, and that we're meeting people here. The whole experience is pretty cool."
Learn more about IGkNU.