Pre-freshman summer school
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July 18, 2012—
Excitement, curiosity and conviviality prevailed at LAU Beirut with three simultaneous summer camps that brought together about 70 high-school grade 11 students on campus July 2-16.
Hosted by the School of Arts and Sciences for the second year in a row, the computer science and chemistry summer camps were rounded out this year by a third, focused on media.
“The objective is to introduce participating students to the majors they’re interested in, show them what we have to offer, and encourage them to consider LAU as a first choice after they graduate from high-school,” said Dr. Nashat Mansour, coordinator of the learning summer camps.
With the help of the Student Development and Enrollment Management office, the best students from a variety of schools across Lebanon were selected. “We had about 115 applicants but had limited capacity, since our main objective was to focus on hands-on experience,” Mansour said.
“It was my first time working in a lab,” said Rawan Ramadan, who enrolled in the chemistry program. “We had the opportunity to link theory to practice using state-of-the-art equipment.”
Distillation, filtration, analysis, extraction, synthesis are some of the many techniques taught during the two-week long camp.
“We really wanted the students to be aware that chemistry is a central science, that it is behind everything they use in their everyday life,” said Dr. Ahmad Kabbani, chair of the Department of Natural Sciences and supervisor of the chemistry camp.
The young students enjoyed an intensive “edutainment” experience — covering topics as diverse as the production of aspirin and face cream to the distillation of cumin and cinnamon — under the watchful eyes of senior lab technician Marwan Wehbe.
According to Shawki Bsat, who enrolled in computer science, the experience was “simply perfect.” “We were lucky to have amazing teachers, work with great computer equipment, and discover a beautiful university,” he said.
Karim Jahed explained how he and other instructors tried to rid students of the notion that computer science is boring. “We showed them how to develop their own website and mobile applications — and by the end of the camp they were genuinely thrilled and proud,” he said.
Participants were evaluated on their technological skills and ability to incorporate what they learned in their applications.
“I got a glimpse of what my college years at LAU would be like when I join,” Bsat said of the overall experience.
Tala Shatila who took part in the media summer camp shared Bsat’s conviction. “This has been a memorable experience, and I am definitely going to enroll in communication arts at LAU,” she said.
According to Shatila, the two-week long experience deepened her and her cohort’s understanding of the major, and changed the perspective they had about journalism.
“This is indeed our main goal — to attract the best students to LAU,” said Dr. Samer Habre, chair of the Department of Computer Science and Mathematics. “It is part of the university’s strategic five year plan to focus on academic excellence,” he added.
Hosted by the Department of Communication Arts, the media camp tackled a wide range of techniques including reporting and journalistic writing, broadcast journalism, blogging and tweeting.
It also provided the students with an Adobe InDesign training, introducing them to the graphic side of journalism.
“In a country and region where the media system is very politicized, young people have a distorted image of it, in which its civic role is obscured,” said Dr. Yasmine Dabbous, director of the Institute for Media Training and Research, who coordinated the event. “We tried to reverse this, and show them that conflict is only one of the news’ values.”
For their final project, students were asked to report on the International Theater Festival, thus also introducing them to the communication arts program emphasis on drama.
“These summer camps exemplify LAU making the most of its resources — which are never left inactive, even during summer,” concluded Dr. Kabbani. “And they demonstrate the university’s commitment to the community,” he added.
Two scholarships per camp were granted to the top students committed to enrolling in that major once at LAU.
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