Summer STEM goes virtual at FSU Panama City

Cody Gray

With the COVID-19 pandemic limiting face-to-face interactions, the FSU Panama City STEM Institute is going virtual with an interactive STEM Camp this summer. Local high-school students engage in the Nuclear Science and Medicine camp to be held from 9-3, July 13-16, online.

Made possible through funding from the National Nuclear Security Administration, the camp’s curriculum is the creation of FSU Physics Professor, Dr. Paul Cottle, and Bay District Schools teachers, Denise Newsome and Paige Johnston.

“The pandemic has caused tremendous disruption to the education of students in Bay County and the Panhandle, said Cottle. “It's my responsibility to do whatever I can to help the region's students achieve at the highest possible level despite all of the obstacles that are now in their way.”

Students will have individual access to an array of scientific equipment to participate in virtually led investigations in the areas of radioactivity, element decay, and nuclear energy. Campers will virtually interact with the Nuclear Spectroscopy equipment housed at FSU PC and work with half-life simulations on Wednesday, July 15.

Campers will virtually visit both Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center’s nuclear medicine center and the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the nation’s premier nuclear research facility in New Mexico.

“The value of engaging future generations in STEM fields cannot be overstated; leaders in this area of focus are essential to many community services, including health care. Our hospital is proud to partner with the FSU Panama City Nuclear Science and Medicine Camp in offering a virtual tour of our nuclear medicine facility as part of the educational experience,” said Brad Griffin, CEO of Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center. “As an integral part of patient care, nuclear medicine is used in the diagnosis, management, treatment and prevention of serious disease. Our team is excited to have the opportunity to educate students on the practice of nuclear medicine, and we are hopeful what they learn will have a long-lasting and inspiring impact.”

The instructors for the course under Dr. Cottle’s tutelage are excited to bring this kind of learning to our area students. Denise Newsome, the lead teaching instructor says,” We are giving students access to some of the best Nuclear Scientists in the field and providing hands-on learning with radioactive sources and detectors.  These experiences are key in developing our next generation of nuclear scientists and other STEM experts.”

For more information about these and other STEM camps at FSU Panama City, please call Ginger Littleton at 850/770-2152.