- Associated Press - Friday, June 13, 2014

NEW HARMONY, Ind. (AP) - St. Joseph Elementary School student Bailey Brush loves bugs - from spiders and ticks to fuzzy caterpillars - so when youngsters attending the University of Southern Indiana summer camp at New Harmony went exploring for insects on Monday, Brush was in her element.

Brush, 12, who is going into seventh grade at St. Joseph this fall, said her favorite creepy crawlers are spiders and that someday she said she wants to grow up to study them.

“I want to be an entomologist when I grow up,” she told the Evansville Courier & Press (https://bit.ly/1nAXD22 ). “I know a lot about ticks.”

On Monday, the campers searched for insects, captured them and as part of a camp class identified and sketched the different bugs.

“There were a lot of big ones,” Brush said. “There were beetles, a lot of dragon flies and a lot of moths.”

The camp, Bugs, Beakers and Eyeballs: 200 Years of New Harmony Science, focuses on science education through hands-on learning and fun activities, co-leader of the camp Lois Gray said. There were 13 campers participating in the weeklong program.

Gray, a former biology teacher in New Harmony, now teaches introductory biology for non-majors at USI. Her co-leader, Terri Branson, also teaches at USI and supervises students during their pre-student teaching experience.

Campers have had the opportunity to explore historic New Harmony Monday and Wednesday, and were finishing finish their summer camp in the town on Friday. On Wednesday, students visited the USI archaeology field school experience at New Harmony, led by Michael Strezewski,

Strezewski, an assistant professor of anthropology at USI, said it’s great to have younger students interested in science and history observe the dig site and participate because it helps the students to “understand how we know about the past.”

“It’s fun to find things,” Strezewski said, “but ultimately what we’re trying to do is to help say something about the past. It’s what you learn about the past that is the most important thing.”

Strezewski and the USI and University of Evansville field school students explained to the campers about the dig site, and showed them how to sift through the dirt for smaller artifacts.

Campers found fish scales and nails, and had the opportunity to observe how professionals conduct an archaeology dig.

Throughout the week, the campers have had the opportunity to dig for mussel shells as they learned about the history of American conchology, find and identify insects as they learned about entomology and make clay jugs and plates like the Harmonists, who settled New Harmony, would have used. They also learned about forensic science with blood typing and fingerprinting and about the three different kinds of rocks, scouring New Harmony testing different rocks and recording their findings.

Zack Jones, 12, who will be going into the seventh grade at Mount Vernon Junior High School, said he wanted to attend the camp this year to learn more about New Harmony and do different activities. His favorite part of camp so far has been digging for mussel shells.

“I got to keep three. It was really fun.”

Making the ugly jug pots was also fun, he said.

“They had pots pre-made, and we could do like any face that you wanted. I made a face, and it had a really pointy nose with a chameleon tongue on it.”

But for Jones, while he has been participating and enjoying the activities, some of the science and history education has seeped in as well.

“I’ve learned that Tom (Thomas) Say was a big influence in entomology and conchology,” Jones said. “He cataloged all kinds of new animals here in New Harmony. He also helped bring scientists in from like Germany so they could help New Harmony.”

Gray was excited to hear that some of the important scientific and historical facts the leaders have focused the activities around are being absorbed.

Branson said she was excited to see that seven of the 13 campers were girls, because it’s important to encourage more girls and young women to get interested in science and other technical fields.

“Anytime that we can get our students interested in seeing a need for science, and interested in a fun way, is important,” Branson said.

She hopes the camp has helped teach the students learn to ask questions and to help them think scientifically.

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Information from: Evansville Courier & Press, https://www.courierpress.com

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