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STUDIO CITY : Science Camp Gives Lessons for Future

Give this Studio City teen-ager a hand.

And she’ll dissect it.

Human cadavers, contemplation of the fourth dimension and the exploration of the outdoors were among 18-year-old Mayling Wu’s summer camp experiences last month at the National Youth Science Camp in Bartow, W. Va. Every year, two students from each of the 50 states are invited to participate in the all-expenses-paid honors camp.

Looking at a photograph she took of the severed hand she studied this summer, Wu said, “I feel so sorry for the people who had to develop the film.”

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As a California delegate, Wu attended lectures given by noted scientists from NASA and the National Institutes of Health and participated in seminars on marine biology and organ transplantation. After the science classes, the campers took on outdoor activities like rock climbing and hiking.

“Everyone was really scared that we were going to a nerd camp,” Wu recalled, but she said she was pleasantly surprised to find that her new friends were outgoing and friendly.

“No one was egotistical. It was more of a social atmosphere,” said Wu, who said she appreciated having no grades or competition at the science camp. She graduated with a 4.3 grade-point average from North Hollywood High School’s highly gifted program.

With plans to be a premed student at UC Berkeley, which she will attend in the fall, Wu said the camp gave her a realistic look at her future career.

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“I was able to dissect a human hand, and I now know I’m not going to faint,” Wu said. She also was among a group of students invited to watch open-heart surgery at a Charleston, W. Va., medical center.

Aside from the intensive science education, Wu and her peers were taught kayaking, cave exploration and rock climbing, which she said was scary.

“You really have to trust them,” Wu said of her fellow rock climbers.

Looking back at her camp experience, Wu said she liked being isolated as she studied and played in a remote region of West Virginia.

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“There were no TVs. We didn’t know who won the World Cup or what was going on with O.J. Simpson,” she said.

The science camp is funded by the state of West Virginia and through contributions from corporations such as Union Carbide and Bell Atlantic.


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