Blog Faculty

Computer and Science Camp at Northwestern Serves Chinese Students

By Melissa Brookman on Friday, August 31, 2018


This summer University of Northwestern hosted a Computer and Science Camp for prospective Chinese students on campus from July 9-13, 2018. Mathematics professor Dr. Jonathan Zderad helped lead the event.

The main theme was an introduction to important STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) concepts. Some of the key activities included water walkers on Lake Johanna, electronics lab, mathematics computer software, a visit to the Minnesota Science Museum, and experiences with educational technology.

Dr. Zderad explained that he got the idea from the Department of Art and Design because they had hosted a similar experience in the past.

“Iyare Oronseye from the Art Department had the original idea of hosting a technology-based Animation Camp during the summer of 2017. The camp was quite successful with about 20 participants. When I heard that students and educators were visiting from China, I wanted to model what he had done in the past and relate it to science and technology,” said Dr. Zderad.

Jennie Yu Yi, a Northwestern admissions counselor, worked with students from China who were interested in coming to Northwestern as undergraduate or graduate students. The camp was part of a 3 week experience where students explored Minnesota and Northwestern. Additionally, some of the students attended a music camp while they were at Northwestern. The camp consisted of 10 Chinese students, ranging in age from 13-19 years old.

Other members of the Northwestern community volunteered their time with writing curriculum, language translation, presentations, driving, and much more. Some members included Rachel Friesen, Joel Larson, and Kendra Sundeen and her two sons.

Dr. Zderad felt that the best part of the camp was simply getting to know the prospective students.

“A highlight of the camp was being able to spend time with these Chinese students, especially eating lunch and spending the day at the Science Museum. I was encouraged by these students who are interested in having faith-based education,” said Dr. Zderad.

Dr. Zderad has a heart for China and two of his daughters were adopted from China. He is hopeful that more students from China will take an interest in Northwestern in the future.

“The camp has made me more hopeful that we will be able to recruit students from China. In fact, a group of 40 students from Hunan province is visiting in late July. I will be able to present information to them on the STEM program at UNW,” said Dr. Zderad.

Dr. Zderad plans to offer a similar experience next summer at Northwestern called “Preparation for Undergraduate Study.”