CampSpark welcomes refugee students to Rice for week of STEM activities

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Ice cream frozen nearly instantly using liquid nitrogen can be found at some of Houston’s hippest restaurants. It was also found recently in a classroom at Rice University’s BioScience Research Collaborative. Here, refugee students from the Partnership for the Advancement and Immersion of Refugees (PAIR) attending CampSpark experimented with the best methods and milks for making the icy dessert and learned the science behind emulsions and freezing points while they enjoyed the sweet spoils of their labor.
CampSpark students created alginate “worms” as a way to explore polymers. (Photo by Jeff Fitlow)
CampSpark brings together PAIR high school students from Southwest Houston who arrived here as refugees from countries such as Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Iraq, Nepal and Sierra Leone to engage in hands-on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) experiments over the course of a week. The activities ranged from shaking up bags of ice cream one day to extracting DNA from strawberries and dissecting animal hearts the next.
Now in its second year, CampSpark is one of the newest collaborations between Rice and PAIR, a nonprofit originally founded in 2006 by Rice students who saw a need to help empower refugee youth in the city. Engaging Houston for research and education is one of the goals of Rice’s Vision for the Second Century, Second Decade (V2C2). Today, PAIR is in its 11th year of empowering refugee youth to navigate American society, reach their academic potential and become community leaders through educational mentoring programs. PAIR serves refugee youth from shortly after their arrival to the United States through high school graduation and beyond.
“A lot of people don’t know that Houston is the No. 1 refugee resettlement city in the states, and so we have a huge number of people living here that are from other countries,” said Katelin Cherry, a research specialist in Rice’ …

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