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Juneau grad is Alaska's delegate to national science camp

Posted: June 13, 2011 - 9:36pm
   National Youth Science Foundation Inc.
National Youth Science Foundation Inc.

Newly graduated Juneau-Douglas High School alumna Lia Domke will soon be headed to West Virginia as an Alaska delegate to the National Youth Science Camp.

The camp will host 116 students from across the U.S., along with student delegates from 10 other countries for four weeks. The camp, in its 48th year, is run by the National Youth Science Foundation, Inc.

They will head to the Monongahela National Forest June 30 to July 24.

Students will hear lecture topics from guest scientists on global warming, genomic medicine, radio astronomy and energy sustainability.

They also will have opportunities for hands-on studies including dissecting a human hand, discussing bioethics, exploring forensic science techniques and searching through the DNA sequence of a genetic disease.

Domke said there also will be plenty of outdoor activities and students are encouraged to bring musical instruments. She said they also will spend time in Washington, D.C. to visit different legislative buildings and learn more about the political process.

“It sounded like a really good opportunity,” she said. “I’m from Alaska so I enjoy being outdoors. I really enjoy how they combined science and the outdoors. Thought it would be a good way to spend my summer.”

Domke said student delegates also will share presentations with fellow students. Last year, Domke conducted a science experiment with juvenile blue crabs, looking at how their metabolic rate was affected by the change in the water’s temperature and pH balance. Essentially it took a look at how those environmental changes affected the crabs’ energy use and consumption.

This year, she focused on juvenile red crabs and the effects of methyl farnesoate on their hormones. She said the chemical is similar to what is used in insecticides and since crabs and insects have similar hormones, she wanted to see if the chemical affected crab the same way. Domke will present both studies to her peers.

She has taken home awards from the Southeast Alaska Science Fair and the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

“I’m nervous and excited to do that,” Domke said of sharing her projects. “Seeing the presentations from the other students will be exciting. There will be students from 10 other countries. It will be interesting to hear what they’re doing, and also students from around the United States.”

Domke is excited to make new friends, and develop what will likely be future professional contacts. She said most of the students attending will likely go into a scientific field.

Domke believes the experience will be particularly helpful because it isn’t something being done for credit or a grade.

“We’re not forcing ourselves to learn, rather we’re learning what we’re interested in,” she said. “We’ll be able to get more out of this opportunity than I think you would be able to get out of a school. I think it will help broaden my horizons. I’m pretty interested in marine biology and there are going to be people there from all interests of science. Hopefully it will open my interests to more scientific fields.”

Domke admitted she applied on a whim, but as the camp gets closer she gets more excited and as the camp continues next year she hopes more Juneau students take the opportunity.

Molly Royer of Ketchikan was also selected to be an Alaska delegate to the camp.

For more information on the event see: www.nysf.com.

• Contact reporter Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at sarah.day@juneauempire.com.

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