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Summer Science Institute

June 3-8, 2018

This institute is open to students entering grades 10-12 and, if space is available, to 2018 high school graduates. Applications due by May 1, 2018.

The institute offers opportunities to participate in research investigations in several science-related fields, including biology, psychology, chemistry, engineering, and mathematics. You will be able to study fascinating and challenging topics that high school courses typically do not cover. The institute will focus on learning how to do research through close interaction with faculty. Readings will provide background for laboratory and field study. Two Bethel professors have recently published an article describing the experience and benefits of the Summer Science Institute.

Each student will be involved in two of the research areas listed below, with assignment based upon the preferences indicated by students on their registration form. Up to 12 students can be accommodated in each area. Thus, early registration is desirable to ensure being able to enroll in the preferred areas.

Students in all areas will come together for some sessions. Activities in these joint sessions will help you learn more about the nature of science and particularly about the areas of science featured in the Institute.

(For both morning and afternoon, indicate your preferences from 1, most preferred, to 3, least preferred, on the application form)


Personality, Digit Ratio and Risk-taking 
What do your hands say about you? Measure personality traits, risk-taking and finger-length ratios, considering recent research on how hormones affect the development of our hands, brains, and personalities. Models of personality, risk-taking, and gender differences will also be discussed.
Engineering Design — Step by Step 
Learn to design, build, and test our own sensing and control systems using an inexpensive computer called the Raspberry Pi. Focus on solving robotic vehicle navigation problems by striving for step-by-step improvement of the initial design, a widely used approach in engineering research and development.
Biology in the Wild!
Conduct field-based exercises to test hypotheses about the natural world. Visit local prairies, forests and aquatic habitats to make environmental measurements and conduct biodiversity surveys focusing on insects as key indicators of environmental health.


Nutritional Chemistry
Investigate the composition of various samples (for example, the metal and/or vitamin C content in organic foods as compared to nonorganic foods). Techniques used may include acid digestion, titration, atomic absorption spectroscopy and UV-Vis spectroscopy.
Play to Win
No one likes to lose! Study game mechanics and strategies for winning, discuss ways to determine if a game is unfair, and analyze games that include some randomness as well as games where strategy alone determines the outcome.
Face Memory in the Brain
Measure memory for faces of different groups of people to study how biases may arise from influences on visual memory. Study how these memories interact with implicit attitudes and other social factors to gain insight into social issues such as racism, sexism, and homophobia.

Faculty (listed in order of research areas above)

Rachel Messer, Ph.D.
Assistant professor of psychology
Johann Reimer, Bethel alumnus, MS 
Industrial engineer, Excel Industries, Hesston, KS
Jon Piper, Ph.D
Professor of biology (institute co-director)
Jeremy Mitchell-Koch, Ph.D.
Associate professor of chemistry
Morgan Schreffler, Ph.D.
Assistant professor of mathematics
Guadalupe Gonzalez, Bethel alumna
Third-year graduate student in cognitive neuroscience Ph.D. program, University of Texas-Austin

Several Bethel science students will assist the faculty.

Cost and Application

Eligibility: This institute is open to students entering grades 10-12 and, if space is available, to this year’s high school graduates.

Application: The application consists of a completed application form, a letter of recommendation from a science or mathematics teacher who has worked with the student, and a non-refundable fee of $10. The recommendation should address (1) your experience and strengths as a student of science and mathematics and (2) how you will benefit from participation in the Bethel College Summer Science Institute.

The letter should be sent by the teacher to:
Bethel College Summer Science Institute
Attn: Marilyn Flaming
300 East 27th Street North Newton, KS 67117-1716
or e-mailed to

The completed application - including a paragraph describing why you might consider pursuing a science degree at Bethel - should be sent or a scanned copy e-mailed by the student to the same address together with the non-refundable application fee of $10Applications and recommendations must be received by May 1, 2018, in order to be considered.

Applicants will be chosen based upon their strengths in science and mathematics, the benefits they would be expected to receive, and their interest in Bethel’s programs in science and mathematics. In addition, preference will be given to students who have just completed the sophomore or junior year of high school. Students who are accepted will be notified by e-mail during the week of May 8, 2018.

For those who are accepted, a registration fee of $40 and a photocopy of the student’s health insurance card will be required on the first day of the Institute. Registration includes lodging in a Bethel residence hall, meals in the Bethel cafeteria, readings, a T-shirt and one hour of college credit. Each student is sponsored through a $500 donation from a Bethel science or mathematics graduate. You’ll have a chance to communicate with these sponsors to learn about their careers in science, mathematics, medicine and related fields.

Enrollment is limited to 36. All accepted students will be required to confirm their intent to attend by telephone or e-mail after May 15Students who do not confirm their intentions to attend by May 22 will be dropped from the roster so that others can attend.


For more information contact Admissions. For information on institute subject matter, contact Dwight Krehbiel or Jon Piper, institute co-directors.


June 3
3 p.m. Arrival, registration, moving into rooms
4:30 p.m. Introductions
6 p.m. Dinner
7 p.m. Entertainment and getting acquainted
June 4–7
7:30 a.m. Breakfast
8:30 a.m. Laboratory sessions, field trips, discussions and lectures
Noon Lunch
1:30 p.m. Laboratory sessions, field trips, discussions and lectures
5:30 p.m. Dinner
6:30 p.m. Informal discussions, time for reading
8 p.m. Entertainment
June 8
7:30 a.m. Breakfast
8:30 a.m. Preparation of presentations
Noon Lunch
1:00–4:30 p.m. Student presentations

About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.