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Rochester City Students Get Hands On With STEM at Summer Camp

Rochester Young Scholars Academy Camp at Geneseo

Rochester City School District students (from left) Kassim O’Meally, Raven Campbell and Zachaiah Singletary prepare a cake during a culinary arts workshop on campus as part of this year’s Rochester Young Scholars Academy camp. Photo by Keith Walters.

Competing against other students to design an eye-catching fruit salad arrangement might seem like more fun than learning, but for participants in this summer’s Rochester Young Scholars Academy at Geneseo (RYSAG), the numerous cooking challenges built into the two-week summer camp are actually part of an immersive experience engineered to prepare city students for the next stage of their lives.

The 2015 RYSAG camp marks the ninth year that SUNY Geneseo has hosted the program, which is a STEM camp specifically for students from the Rochester City School District (RCSD) who fall between grades six and eleven. Sponsored by the RCSD, Xerox Corp., the Farash Foundation, the Greater Rochester Summer Learning Association and SUNY Geneseo, the program is provided at no cost to participants, and offers a unique opportunity for personal development amid the wide-open spaces and breathtaking views of SUNY Geneseo’s sprawling campus. This year, 82 students participated in the program.

Though fresh air and sunshine are two key ingredients of any successful summer camp, a change in environment is the least of what RYSAG has to offer. According to Susan Norman, the program’s executive director, simply being on the college campus and interacting with SUNY Geneseo students can provide attendees the inspiration needed to set goals that may previously have seemed impossible. “Instead of dreaming of being a doctor,” she said, “they can find out what they need to do to actually be a doctor.”

Throughout the two weeks on campus, RYSAG students participate in numerous activities, lessons, games and challenges – all tailored to a universal theme. This year’s theme, “Food Fusion Showdown,” was chosen by the students. Though the 2015 camp schedule is fun (and often delicious), it cleverly interweaves concepts of mathematics and chemistry into the students’ culinary activities.

This summer’s RYSAG camp ended on June 24, but the Rochester Young Scholars Academy Program continues throughout the year. Eight Saturdays each semester, SUNY Geneseo education faculty and students meet with the RYSAG participants at the Rochester Public Library. The volunteers provide academic guidance, and help the students develop critical thinking skills that will help them on the path to bright, successful futures.

The knowledge and experience gained by RYSAG participants, though substantial, isn’t limited to the camp attendees alone. Program volunteers include SUNY Geneseo students and SUNY Geneseo alumni, all of whom come away from the experience with invaluable life and career knowledge, much of which is imparted by none other than their young charges.

Written by SUNY Geneseo

Located in the historic village of Geneseo in the upstate Finger Lakes region, SUNY Geneseo is a premier public liberal arts college with a rich tradition of academic excellence, dedicated to developing socially responsible citizens with skills and values for a productive life.

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