Middle school minority students from Ruskin and Tampa got a shot of science this week.
Hillsborough Community College SouthShore Campus held its third annual energy camp for 30 students at Pierce and Beth Shields middle schools.
It's the first year the camp had more than 20 students enrolled, said Nina Stokes, Florida Energy Systems Consortium project manager.
Bus schedules made it harder to attract more students in the past, but a change in the camp's hours from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. allowed more students to attend, Stokes said.
The camp is funded through the English for Speakers of Other Languages program and teaches students about renewable resources.
Students learned about fossil fuel mining, ocean energy, windmills and created solar cookers, said camp teacher Kyla DonLevy.
"I hope it gets them excited about science and they talk to their parents and hopefully make some better choices at home," DonLevy said.
The HCC SouthShore campus uses solar panels and its buildings were constructed to be energy efficient so students can see the college practices what it preaches, Stokes said.
"It's about bringing concepts to life," she said.
On Tuesday, the students got a tour of Tampa Electric where they learned how many homes the company served and how it responded to emergencies.
Camilo Perilla, a 13-year-old student at Pierce, said he enjoyed his visit to TECO.
"It was fun because everybody was amazed," he said.
The camp serves as an opportunity for the kids to get exposed to careers and college, said Brittney Wilhelm, teacher at Pierce and the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) Excel program.
Wilhelm said that most of the students plan to be first-generation college students.
The program is meant to help the students build more confidence, Stokes said.
The camp also serves as a way for the students to meet kids from other schools who experience the same struggles that they do, Wilhelm said.
"It's nice for them to see someone else doing the same thing they're doing," she said.
Lynn Vickstrom, teacher at Beth Shields and the AVID Excel program said she wants the kids to feel like a family.
She said she hopes the students "become more confident in their own ideas. That's what we teach, confidence."
Franco Aleman, a 13-year-old student from Pierce, said he's learned a lot from the camp and hopes to apply what he learned in his science class when he starts school in the fall.
"This camp has let me understand what kinetics is and I think it's going to help me with my science," Aleman said.