Scouting has come a long way from taking hikes and tying knots.
Blood spatter and ziplining?
West Virginia University will be offering those activities to the 32,000 or so Scouts swarming in from all corners of the country for the 2013 National Scout Jamboree in Mount Hope.
The Jamboree, hosted by the Boy Scouts of America every four years, will run July 15-24 and will mark the first to be held at its new permanent home—10,600 acres of an outdoor lover’s playland at the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve nestled in southern West Virginia.
When the Boy Scouts of America purchased the property in 2009, WVU saw a golden opportunity to partner up with one of the largest youth organizations in the United States, said Gerald Lang, of WVU Research, who is overseeing the University’s involvement.
The state’s land-grant, flagship University will play a heavy role in the 2013 Jamboree by hosting three main attractions: A forensic science tent, a cycling station and the almighty zipline.
In between all of the whitewater rafting and mountain biking, Scouts will learn about WVU and have fun in the process.
Lang said the Scout organization wanted WVU to showcase its forensic sciences program. It will – with 11 different activities representing seven different forensic disciplines – all under one big, gold and blue tent.
The exercises will involve alternate light source applications, biometrics, bloodstain pattern analysis, digital evidence, fingerprints, footwear, firearms and tool marks. Each exercise will take two to three minutes to complete, and if Scouts complete four or more exercises, they’ll receive a nifty patch from WVU.
“Television forensic science (shows such as CSI and NCIS) is frequently misrepresented, factually incorrect and glamorized for television ratings purposes,” said Chris Bily, instructional coordinator, Forensic and Investigative Science. “This will provide the Scouts with the opportunity to experience forensic science in a meaningful and realistic way, and in doing so, it will open their mind’s eye to the possibility of pursuing forensic science as a career.”
Up to 5,000 Scouts could go through the WVU forensics tent each day.
“The Scouts participating in the Jamboree are of the age that they will begin to be thinking about possible career interests and college choices,” Bily added. “The activities in the forensic science tent are high interest, visually appealing and are expected to generate a great deal of interest in the Forensic and Investigative Sciences and Biometrics programs offered by WVU.”
If blood and DNA is a bit icky for some Scouts, other outdoor adventures will be a plenty.
Scouts can embark on 36 miles of downhill mountain biking. But before they zoom down on their bikes, they’ll have an opportunity to study the science of cycling at another WVU station.
Want to know how much energy is expended in pedaling a bike? How much contact do the tires actually have with the surface? How do the gears work?
Those are the sorts of questions that will be addressed at the cycling tent.
Also on display at the cycling station will be WVU’s human-powered vehicle, a three-wheeled vehicle created by engineering students.
“We hope to bring to Scouts the science behind these high-adventure activities,” Lang said.
Then there’s what could possibly be the most breathtaking attraction at the Jamboree: the zipline.
In May, the University unveiled a new canopy tour, a network of four ziplines connected to trees in the WVU Research Forest. It is the first of its kind owned and operated at a university, and is a joint project of Adventure WV, the WVU Division of Forestry & Natural Resources and Bonsai Design, a private company that builds custom-designed zipline courses.
Lang expects 3,000 Scouts will get to glide through the air on a 3,200-foot long zipline at the Jamboree.
But the zipline’s presence will be worth more than just a ‘weeeeeee’ moment. Beforehand, Scouts will predict their own maximum speed – through a mathematical procedure – soaring down the zipline. The skills executed in the tour include understanding and using the Pythagorean Theorem and Newton’s second law of motion.
A radar gun will be used to record the actual speed of the zipliners, Lang said, and then the Scouts can compare their prediction to the result.
Lang, a former Boy Scout himself, expects a positive turnout for the Scouts and for WVU.
“What we did in my day was a lot of hiking and camping,” he said. “Camps were modest. But this Jamboree is a great adventure.”
WVU’s involvement in the Jamboree also serves as a testament to the University’s dedication to its land-grant mission.
“Our participation is part of our land-grant mission of public outreach,” Lang said. “We should be present and we are going to be present, in a dominant way.
“And while we’re there, we hope these Scouts, who are coming to West Virginia from all over the country, will consider West Virginia University when it’s time to pick a college.”
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