Young scientists will try to tackle the "Plight of the Pumpkin Pollinators"

Young scientists will try to tackle the "Plight of the Pumpkin Pollinators"
July 1, 2010

Phil Brozynski, Media Relations Manager
(630) 829-6094

712010_summersleuths20092jpgThe problem has stumped researchers, keepers and farmers since it was first observed more than four years ago.

So who better to try to solve it than dozens of young scientists from junior highs and high schools throughout Illinois?

More than 240 young students will converge upon Benedictine University July 12-15 for the 10th annual Summer Sleuths science camp conducted by the Alternative Teacher Certification program at Benedictine in conjunction with the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in Aurora.

The camp is designed to help students learn how to search for solutions to real-world problems; enhance their communication skills with peers; gather information from experts, experiments, the Internet and other sources; present their solutions to a panel of experts; and meet new friends and have fun.

The problem facing this summer’s campers is titled “The Plight of the Pumpkin Pollinators,” and deals with the diminishing bee population in the United States. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported a 29 percent drop in beehives in 2009, following a 36 percent decline in 2008 and a 32 percent drop in 2007.

The decline affects not only honey production, but about $15 billion worth of crops that depend on bees for pollination. Scientists call the phenomenon that has led to the disappearance of millions of adult bees and beehives in the United States and Europe “colony collapse disorder.”

“Those of us in the Alternative Certification program get as excited as the campers whenever we encounter a new ‘Sleuths’ problem supplied by the Illinois Math and Science Academy,” said John Zigmond, director of the Alternative Teacher Certification program at Benedictine University.

“This is year No. 10, and each session has been satisfying observing young students so enthused about the science, mathematics and technology they employ to ‘solve’ the Problem-Based Learning challenge,” he added.

The camp is free and runs from 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday. For more information, contact Zigmond at (630) 829-1364.


Benedictine University is an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois just 25 miles west of Chicago. Founded in 1887, Benedictine provides 56 undergraduate majors, 16 graduate and four doctorate programs. The Chronicle of Higher Education recently ranked Benedictine University as the seventh fastest-growing campus among private nonprofit master’s universities, and Forbes magazine named Benedictine among the top 20 percent of America’s colleges for 2011. Benedictine University’s Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain’s Chicago Business as the fourth largest in the Chicago area in 2011.