Exploring their futures

CHS students delve into research, design and more during summer internships

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While some teens spent the summer at the river, hanging out with friends, hiking or vacationing, several Camas High School students devoted much of their free time toward potential future careers.

These students, from the CHS Math Science and Technology Magnet program, volunteered at internships ranging from working a law firm that specializes in patent research to designing a school from the ground up to researching prostate cancer.

The internship program was spearheaded by magnet program teacher Kim Newman, who added that students are given real-world experiences in a field that they deem interesting, so they are engaged in the work.

“While at the site students learn to work effectively as a team, strive to help solve real-world issues and as a result, experience something much bigger than themselves,” she said. “In addition to problem solving and teamwork skills, students learned to be self-advocates and disciplined.”

For example, some of the work done by the students at various Oregon Health and Science University research institutes will be incorporated into different publications, either as an author or co-author.

“Many of the mentors were impressed with the curiosity that our students displayed,” Newman said. She gave the example of senior Meghal Sheth, who became curious about how BPA (Bisphenol-A) affected hearing while working with mentor Dr. Allison Coffin.

“Dr. Coffin helped Meghal design and carry out her experiment,” Newman said. “Her curiosity has led others in Coffin’s lab to ask more questions regarding BPA and zebra fish. This all started from a high school student asking a question and a willing mentor to guide the process.”

There are several mentors who have been with the program since its inception, such as Hewlett Packard, Underwriters Laboratories, CID BioScience, and the City of Camas.

“Interested students contact these organizations to express interest and ask for a potential interview,” Newman said. “For the most part, though, students express an interest in a particular field, I work with them to find a company or a university with that area of expertise, and students start making the contacts themselves. Many adults in the field are impressed by the students being self-advocates and are willing to help or provide other contacts.”

She noted that other students go through the Apprenticeships in Science and Engineering Program, which matches high school freshmen, sophomores and juniors with scientists and engineers for eight-week summer internships in a professional, scientific or engineering environment.

Read about these students experiences in the Sept. 30 print edition.