Monday, July 29, 2013

Guest Columnist Cameron Pharr

Cameron Pharr: Port Discover gives intern
look at hands-on science ed
I decided to volunteer as an intern at Port Discover this summer, before I head off to North Carolina School of Science and Math. I can honestly say that I have met some wonderful people both as coworkers and as visitors to the center.

During their science camp, I had the chance to supervise some of the children in our area. I was impressed by how much the kids knew about real world and current science issues, such as the energy crisis and how we are in search of a better energy source.

Port Discover presents a variety of exhibits ranging from aeronautics to nutrition. Along with the exhibits, visitors at Port Discover can look at and enjoy both the live and the preserved animals. Among others, the live animals include Angus, the bearded dragon, and Ruby and Ebony, the two rats.

There is also the Kids’ Garden in the back where all organic and natural plants are grown and shared with the community.

After volunteering at Port Discover, I can truly say that there is more than meets the eye when you first walk in. The staff has taken great care of me, even better care than I had hoped. Port Discover could be better appreciated and supported by our community.

Now I am preparing for my junior year at The North Carolina School of Science and Math. It is a school located in Durham for students gifted in the areas of math and science, and offers opportunities to rising high school juniors and seniors. Students are handpicked by the board of admissions at NCSSM and are required to be near the top of their class.

Applicants to the school must apply during their sophomore year of high school and subsequently meet deadlines such as turning in transcripts and medical release forms. If applicants become “finalists”, they can choose whether they want to accept the offer to go to NCSSM. Other applicants are placed on a waiting list and are offered the chance to attend only if a finalist gives up his or her position.

Along with the academic criteria, the students that the NCSSM board of admissions is looking for must be well rounded. For example, most of the students that go to NCSSM either play a sport or participate in several extracurricular activities. In addition, as a graduation requirement, each student must complete at least 60 hours of volunteering during either the summer before junior year or the summer before senior year.

For me, going to NCSSM is an incredible opportunity to pursue a career in the sciences because of the advanced level of the instruction at the school. In addition, being away from home in high school is going to prepare me for what college is going to be like academically and will teach me how to live on my own and manage myself as an adult.

Port Discover’s guest columnist Cameron Pharr spent 60 hours volunteering at the hands-on science center for kids. He is the son of Doctors Maria and Tark Pharr.
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