Summer is full of camps for kids, but one in particular is immersing them in both history and science. The Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum is hosting STEM camp this week, where campers can go behind the scenes of the bombing investigation.
People come from all over the world to learn about the tragedy that will forever mark Oklahoma’s history, but the group of campers is learning something positive as well.
Each year visitors to the memorial grow further away from that fateful day. The middle school campers were not even close to being alive when it happened.
“I had like no idea about it,” admits 12-year-old Caleb Maddox. “I learned 168 died and 19 of those I believe were children, and it was a very sad day.”
The Memorial’s educational experience director Lynne Porter says, “It’s important for them to learn the story of April 19, 1995 and really how the community came together.”
Their education goes beyond death and destruction to focus on the aftermath, learning how forensic scientists studied thousands of pieces of evidence to find clues. Devon Energy and UCO's forensics program are helping the campers get hands-on experience with the same methods investigators use to solve crimes, having fun along the way as they extract DNA, make casts of footprints and more.
Maddox explains, “If they would have some of those footprints, they could make a cast of it and they could figure out what type of shoes and look at where it was wearing from, so how they walk, what size, so they can determine who is the criminal.”
Organizers hope to inspire them to pursue careers in STEM fields.
“I kind of want to be an FBI agent,” says 11-year-old camper Andress Vara. “If that doesn’t work out, maybe a rescue worker or dog handler.”
The organizers also want the campers to take their new knowledge of past events to change their everyday lives. Porter says, “They kind of internalize that and think gosh, what would happen if something like this happened in my life or to my loved one? So I think that’s been very helpful for them.”
The Memorial aims to continue hosting positive events like this to leave a lasting impression on the next generation.