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Summer Science Institute

Summer Science Institute

June 2-7, 2019

You are invited to participate in our annual science institute on the Bethel College campus, June 2-7, 2019. This institute is open to students entering grades 10-12 and, if space is available, to 2019 high school graduates.

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.


We plan to offer the following research areas:


(indicate your preferences from 1, most preferred, to 3, least preferred, on the registration form)

Personality, digit ratio, and risk-taking

What do your hands say about you? We will 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

We will learn to design, build, and test our own sensing and control systems using an inexpensive computer called the Raspberry Pi. We will 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!

We will conduct field-based exercises to test hypotheses about the natural world. We will visit nearby prairies, forests and aquatic habitats to make environmental measurements and conduct biodiversity surveys focusing on invertebrates as key indicators of environmental health.


(again, indicate your preferences from 1, most preferred, to 3, least preferred, on the registration form):

Nutritional Chemistry

We will 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! We will 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.

Social Perceptions, Attitudes, and Memory

We will investigate how the social context influences our perceptions of people from different social groups and our willingness to interact with them. We will also study how the social context influences attitudes and memory to gain insight into social issues such as racism.


(listed in order of research areas above)

  • Rachel Messer, Ph.D.,  assistant professor of psychology
  • Paul Regier (alumnus), Master’s in electrical and computer engineering, mathematics Ph.D. student, University of Oklahoma
  • Jon Piper, Ph.D., professor of biology (co-director)
  • Jeremy Mitchell-Koch, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry, and Kathryn Layman, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry
  • Morgan Schreffler, Ph.D., assistant professor of mathematics
  • Guadalupe Gonzalez (alumna), Ph.D. candidate in cognitive neuroscience, University of Texas at Austin

Several Bethel science students will assist the faculty.

New Evening Activity

Have you ever wanted to photograph stars, galaxies, and the Moon through a large telescope? Now’s your chance. This special opportunity offers you hands-on experience taking astronomical photographs through a large telescope. You’ll get basic training in image processing, learn how scientific cameras work, and also learn some basics in astronomy.

These activities will be offered during several evenings beginning at 7:00 p.m.; the schedule will be determined by the weather during the week of the institute. Activities will be led by Martin Ratcliffe, astronomer with Sky-Skan, Inc. (planetarium company) and faculty member in the Cohen Honors Department of Wichita State University.

Cost and Application


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


The application consists of a completed application form (submitted electronically) and a letter of recommendation from a science or mathematics teacher who has worked with the student.  The teacher should e-mail the letter to Dwight Krehbiel ( or mail it to:

Bethel College Summer Science Institute
Attn: Dwight Krehbiel
300 East 27th Street
North Newton, KS 67117-1716

Please begin by submitting your application, on which you will designate the teacher who can recommend you (it is wise to check with that teacher first). Then we will send an e-mail message to the teacher you designate to request the recommendation. Applications and recommendations must be received by April 1, 2019, in order to be considered.

Considering these applications and recommendations, we will choose applicants 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. Enrollment is limited to 36 students.

Students who are accepted will be notified by e-mail on about April 15, 2019. Accepted students must confirm their intention to attend by e-mail and by submitting the registration fee of $50 by May 1, 2019. Students who do not confirm their intentions to attend will be dropped from the roster so that others can attend. 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.


For more information, contact Dwight Krehbiel ( or Jon Piper (, institute co-directors.


June 2

3 p.m. Arrival, registration, moving into rooms
4:30 p.m. Introductions (Krehbiel Science Center, Room 016)
5:30 p.m. Dinner
7 p.m. Entertainment and getting acquainted

June 3–6

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 7

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.