CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As Boy Scouts sling from ziplines and pedal up hills, West Virginia University will be helping them to study the science behind the activities to get the most out of their experience.
"Almost everybody knows how to get on a bike, but do they understand the design of the frame?" said Gerald Lang, of WVU Research, who is overseeing West Virginia University's involvement in 2013 National Scout Jamboree.
"Do they understand the design of the frame? The different types of metals used to build the frame? The goal is to really get Scouts thinking a bit more about science and engineering and math."
The Boy Scouts of America purchased a 10,600-acre plot of land in Fayette and Raleigh counties next to the New River Gorge National River two years ago. The Summit: Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve will serve as the new, permanent home to the National Boy Scout Jamboree, which is held every four years. It will also be the site of the 2019 World Scout Jamboree.
The Jamboree, which will be July 15-24, is allocated on about 1,200 acres of the Summit— primarily for campgrounds for the 40,000 Scouts.
High-adventure sports will be offered, including whitewater rafting, mountain biking and ziplining. The University is taking advantage of those activities to teach Scouts about science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
"Trying to get a young person today interested in science, you have to connect to something they are interested in," Lang said.
WVU will host three main attractions: a forensic science tent, a cycling station and the zipline.
Under a blue and gold tent, university representatives will guide Scouts through 11 different activities representing seven different forensic disciplines from the forensics program.
The exercises will involve alternate light source applications, biometrics, bloodstain pattern analysis, digital evidence, fingerprints, footwear, firearms and tool marks.
Each exercise takes two to three minutes to complete, and if the Scouts complete four or more exercises, they will receive a patch from WVU.
Katlin Stinespring, a graduate student at WVU and admissions counselor for southern West Virginia, will be participating in WVU's events at the Summit. She 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.