7-8-13 WVU to help Boy Scouts with science at Jamboree

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia University will help Boy Scouts study the science behind their activities at this month’s National Scout Jamboree.

Gerald Lang of WVU Research is overseeing the university’s involvement in the event, set for July 15-24 at The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in Fayette and Raleigh counties.

WVU will host three main attractions: a forensic science tent, a cycling station and a zipline.

At the forensic science tent, scouts will be led through exercises involving alternate light source applications, biometrics, bloodstain pattern analysis, digital evidence, fingerprints, footwear, firearms and tool marks. They’ll be encouraged to think about the science involved in other activities as well.

For example, Lang said: “Almost everybody knows how to get on a bike, but do they understand the design of the frame? Do they understand the design of the frame? The different types of metals used to build the frame?”

“Trying to get a young person today interested in science, you have to connect to something they are interested in,” Lang said.

Katlin Stinespring, a graduate student at WVU and admissions counselor for southern West Virginia, will help distribute patches and WVU backpacks to Scouts who complete activities.

“I was asked to represent WVU at the Jamboree to share information about what connects scouts and Mountaineers _ everything from senses of challenge and tradition to thirsts for adventure,” Stinespring said. “The Jamboree is an extensive opportunity for scouts who would not have otherwise known about West Virginia or West Virginia University.

About 40,000 scouts are expected for the Jamboree, and the forensics exercises are expected to draw as many as 5,000 each day.

“Forensic science is a very popular area right now, and so we thought that if we could take America’s youth’s interest in forensic science and give some principles behind it, it’s a way to get students to engage,” said Lang, a former Boy Scout.

“It’s the same with cycling but there’s not a real concept of how small of contact there is between the tire and the surface, the notion of friction, how to shift gears, and we’re bringing some of the science behind that to the Scouts.”

Scouts will speed down 36 miles of downhill mountain biking and can figure out how much energy they need to so and the time it will take them to get from point A to point B.

Some of those same concepts will be applied to ziplining using Newton’s Laws of Motion and velocity.

“With riding a zipline, it’s fun,” Lang said. “But we want them to understand why you can go as fast as you can go. Why can some people go faster than others? And the big zipline will have five scouts on parallel lines, so it will be interesting to compare since everybody will be competitive and we can compare who was the fastest and have a brief discussion of why.”

Lang expects 3,000 Scouts to glide down the 3,200-foot zipline, and they will have the opportunity to predict their speed and see how it compares to their actual speed as measured by a radar gun.

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