BASE Camp (Broadening Access to Science Education) is a two-week, residential camp for female high school students interested in scientific research. Students have the opportunity to see what research in science is all about ... and have fun in the process! Our next camp will be held July 8-20, 2018.
BASE Camp is designed to engage high school, female students in hands-on, research-based experiences in the natural sciences and mathematics, in an effort to inform and excite students about the process of science.
BASE Camp is open to female students completing their sophomore or junior year of high school from underrepresented groups in STEM fields. Students must be a US citizen or permanent residennt, be in good academic standing, and have an interest in science. Space is limited to 24 students. Priority may be given to first-time applicants.
The two-week overnight camp is free of charge to accepted students. All meals and lodging on campus are included. Funding for this program is generously provided by Boehringer Ingelheim and Alumni and Friends of Fairfield University.
BASE Camp projects offer students an informative and fun week-long experience with actual scientific research during the first week of camp. Projects change every year, allowing students to choose from a variety of topics including biomedical science, medicinal chemistry, forensics, developmental biology, evolutionary biology, marine ecology, software engineering, mechanical engineering, behavioral psychology, neuroscience, biophysics, and applied mathematics.
Our summer 2018 projects are listed below:
Project #1: Which Is True - Seeing Is Believing or Believing is Seeing? An Exploration of How Other People Influence Our Beliefs and Behaviors
(Dorothea Braginsky, PhD – Department of Psychology)
Following a general orientation to the field of social psychology and its methods of study, students will examine a broad range of questions and real-world phenomena. Key issues include: How are people influenced by one another? Why do we accept social influence? Why are people obedient? How does a person come to like or loathe another person? Why the current flood of “ME TOO” confessions? What is the role of the media, in particular, social media? We will select a question, develop a research project, and conduct a study that will help enlighten us about some aspect of this especially current and important area in social psychology.
Project #2: Investigating the Effects of Excercise on the Human Body
(Shannon Gerry, PhD - Department of Biology)
Excercise has dramatic effects on the physiology of the human body including the cardiovascular system, respiratory system and muscles. This can be indicated by changes in heart rate, breathing rate or muscle fatigue. In this project, students will dissect sheep hearts to understand how blood flows through the heart and receives oxygen and then they will learn to measure several physiological parameters using techniques such as electromyography (EMG), electrocardiography (EKG) and respirometry. Students will generate hypotheses on the relationships among exercise, muscle activity, heart rate and breathing rate and design an experiment to quantify these relationships in their fellow campers.
Project #3: Using Probability to Determine Best Strategies for Winning Games
(Laura McSweeney, PhD - Department of Mathematics)
Card games (like SET) and dice games (like HOG) are easy to learn and fun to play. But, can we figure out what is the best way to play the game so that we have the highest chance of winning? Can we find the outcomes in the game that are more likely to occur? Also, are our first instincts on how to best play the game correct? In this project, we will examine these questions, and more. Simulations will be used to test whether our conjectures about the best strategies appear to be correct. Then we will use the tools of probability theory, which help researchers determine the likelihood of random events, to find the best strategies when playing these, and other, games.
Project #4: Studying the Growth and Death of Cancer Cells
(Shelley Phelan, PhD – Department of Biology)
Cancerous cells have the ability to grow continuously without the proper cellular restraints. This research project will allow students to work with an established human leukemia cell line and learn how to grow these cells in the laboratory. Students will examine the effects of different conditions and treatments on the growth and death of these cells using modern cell and molecular techniques. In the process, students will learn how to propose research hypotheses, find relevant biomedical literature, design and execute experiments, and analyze and interpret data.
Project #5: Why Did I Do That? Looking at Unconscious Influences on Behaviors
(Susan Rakowitz, PhD – Department of Psychology)
Psychology is the scientific study of mental processes and behavior. Student will consider how to design scientific research when their subjects know they’re being studied. Then, they will focus on research that shows how behavior and judgments can be affected by all sorts of things we don’t realize like whether we sit up straight or slouch, whether we're holding a cold drink or a warm drink, or whether we recently saw words related to the elderly or something else. We will then design and carry out a study testing some of the unconscious influences on behavior.
Project #6: Characterizing Self-Assembling Peptide Structures Related to Neurodegenerative Diseases
(Jillian Smith-Carpenter, PhD – Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry)
Neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, are associated with a build-up of protein plaques in the brain. To better understand the assembly process of these highly ordered structures, we will use small self-assembling peptides as a model system. In this project, students will design their own experiment to test the effect of several environmental and chemical conditions on the self-assembly process. Students will use a variety of techniques to follow the self-assembly process and characterize the supramolecular structures, including Infrared Spectroscopy (IR) and Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM). Throughout the research project, students will learn some of the basic chemical rules that influence how biomolecules interact.
When you become a BASE Camp participant, you have access to its resources for years to come! This page provides you with important information about college application and careers in science.
Applying to college can be a tricky task. As part of the BASE Camp agenda, students attend college admission sessions tailored to pursuing careers in the STEM and healthcare fields. Below are some helpful resources.
Below is contact information of the health and science professionals who came to speak to BASE Campers along with scientific career web resources.
Student Presentations (2016)
Check out the 2016 cohort's final project presentations
Student Presentations (2013)
Check out the 2013 cohort's final project presentations
Student Presentations (2012)