students and science-y stuff

Prairie Research Institute
Science Camp 2014

The Prairie Research Institute held the second annual Prairie Research Institute Science Camp from July 21-25, 2014. The Prairie Research Institute is the home of the scientific surveys, including the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS), Illinois State Archaeological Survey (ISAS), Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS), Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS), and the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC).





Camp Schedule

Topic | Date Activity
Archaeology Monday,
July 21, 2014
Prehistoric tools: Lithic analysis provides important information about the past. Campers will be introduced to how archaeologists use the analysis of prehistoric tools to identify tool function, trade networks, use of the environment, and time periods. After a brief introduction, they will see a demonstration of how prehistoric tools are made through a process called flint knapping and then hafted into tools.
Prehistoric ceramics: Ceramic analysis is another important component of archaeology. ISAS analysts will discuss how archaeologists analyze prehistoric ceramics to identify vessel function, trade networks, food production, ideology, and time periods. After this brief introduction, campers will have the opportunity to make their own personalized ceramic vessel using similar tools used by prehistoric Native Americans.
Geology Tuesday,
July 22, 2014
The Earth Systems Visualization Laboratory: Geological data is vital when making planning decisions regarding water resources, energy resources, and mineral availability. The “Vis Lab”, with its large screen and high end computers, is used to aid geologic mapping efforts.  Learn how this cutting technology is used and complete some hands on activities of your own.
Our Energy Future: How many electronic devices do you use every day? Want to know more about where your electricity comes from?  What about the fuels used to get around town or heat your home? Never thought much about it? Let us show you why this is important. Learn more about energy sources, both traditional and alternative, and what the future might hold.
Environmental/Biological Science Wednesday,
July 23, 2014
Paleontology: Paleontology is more than just the study of dinosaurs - it's the study of all prehistoric life.  Search for fossil insects entombed in 20 million year old amber from the Dominican Republic.
Field Biology: Field biologists study plants and animals and use them as environmental indicators of ecosystem health. Become a field biologist during this session and try the methods used to collect and study animals in the wild.
Sustainable Technology Thursday,
July 24, 2014
Creating Alternative Liquid Fuels: Reusing and recycling materials currently viewed as waste will ensure a more sustainable planet. Explore the conversion of waste plastics to fuels and other by-products; take part in hands-on activities to evaluate the properties of plastic grocery bags and other feedstocks for making fuel and then test it in a go-cart!
What is Biochar: Four thousand years ago, people of the Amazon region used pyrolysized biomass (now termed biochar) to help add fertility to their poor soils.  Learn how to produce biochar, investigate its properties, see how it affects plant growth, and experiment with new uses of biochar for energy production in the creation of super capacitors.
Water Science & Interdisciplinary Field Trip Friday,
July 25, 2014
Analyze the quality of local water supplies to determine if it is suitable for drinking using analytical instruments and color metric tests.
Synthesis of information to make informed decisions is an important part of real world application. As a group students will use the information from the week's activities to determine the feasibility of a proposed project.

Application and Registration

The application deadline has passed and online registration is now closed. Notification of admission will be mailed in early June, along with a list of what to bring and not bring, camp rules, camp guide book, and materials to complete before camp starts.

Important Dates

Date Event
April 7, 2014 Registration opens
May 31, 2014 Application Deadline
Early June Acceptance letters mailed or emailed
June 20, 2014 Deadline to complete acceptance materials online and make all payments
July 11, 2014 Last day to withdraw from camp and receive 50% refund
July 21, 2014 Camp starts! (Be sure to read or view any preliminary articles or videos)


The camp cost is $250 and includes all activities, afternoon snacks, and a camp T-shirt. The cost also includes a pizza party at the end of the day on July 25, 2014, during the concluding ceremony; parents/guardians are invited to attend this event. Students will need to bring a sack lunch each day. For more information, see Camp Rules and Things to Bring (pdf).

Payment for the camp should be made after receipt of acceptance letter. Letters will be mailed or emailed in early June. Payment by check or money order is preferred and should be post marked or dropped off with the acceptance packet materials by June 20, 2014. Checks or money orders should be made payable to the University of Illinois (with PRI Science Camp and student’s name noted in the memo field). If payment is not received by the deadline, the student forfeits their spot and cannot participate in the camp. Please read the acceptance letter before making payments as there will be a few more items to complete.

Payment Methods

  • Cash is not accepted
  • Mail or drop off checks or money order to (see payment instructions in the Cost Section):
          Illinois Sustainable Technology Center
          Institute Science Camp
          ATTN: Elizabeth Luber
          1 E. Hazelwood Dr.
          Champaign, IL 61820


Refund Policy

If you should need to withdraw from the camp after submitting your payment and letter of commitment to attend, refunds will be made at 50% of the amount paid. The last day to withdraw and receive a 50% refund of paid fees is July 11, 2014. Withdrawal from the camp after July 11, 2014, means that the money is forfeited and no refund is given.


Please contact Elizabeth Luber,Assistant Camp Director, at 217-333-7403 with all non-emergency camp related questions or to set up late drop-off or early departure


In the unfortunate event that you have an emergency and need to contact your child at camp, please call Kirsten Walker, Assistant Camp Director, at 217-300-9540.

Camp Counselors

Are you interested in becoming a camp counselor for the Prairie Research Institute Science Camp? The camp counselor position is closed for 2014 camp, please check back next year for more details. If you have any questions about the position or about camp, please contact Elizabeth Luber, Assistant Camp Director, at 217-333-7403.


students and science-y stuff

Updated 08/08/2014 mj

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