By Adrien Simmons and Hannah Anderson
Johnson C. Smith University, as part of a CRC project led by Dr. Ahmed Faik, holds multiple annual summer camps focused on applying STEM knowledge to disaster-related research. Students from this year’s camps – which were held online – reflected on their experiences.
Every year after final exam week, Johnson C. Smith University’s (JCSU) STEM department hosts a 1-week DHS research camp for all STEM majors, supported by the Coastal Resilience Center. It is a unique opportunity to collaborate with fellow students to create a project based around a natural disaster of the group’s choosing. The camp itself is split into morning and afternoon sessions, but the endgame is to collect data, create visualizations using Tableau and then produce a paper and a presentation for fellow students and staff.
For most camp participants, this is their first taste of collaborative work at JCSU. For me, it was an opportunity to polish up some skills that I have learned from my previous times attending. It is always fun to drop into the camp and test how much I’ve grown in comparison to the previous years. This camp was so different from past years because of lockdowns and social distancing orders given by each state, which prevented our groups from meeting physically. That, combined with the fact that I was assigned as a group leader, made me question the outcome this time around.
Despite my fears, the entire process went smoothly. In fact, I could argue that in some ways the camp went better under these circumstances. As a collective, we decided to focus our research on the analysis of tornado alley, which is an area in the Midwest that experiences frequent tornadoes. I assigned each member of my group a subtopic on which to conduct research, collect data, and create Tableau worksheets. Just from the nature of working remotely, I knew that it would require some extra work to keep everything consistent, so I tried my best to fill in the holes where I figured we would lack. That included assigning daily goals, creating templates for the paper and revising our team’s work as needed. Continue reading