Pharmacy successfully transitions to virtual summer camp

Pills, Potions and Poisons image

Pharmacy successfully transitions to virtual summer camp

By Ben Lewis, Director of Communications

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced in-person activities to be canceled, the College of Pharmacy had to get creative to ensure the success of its long-running summer camp Pills, Potions and Poisons.

So Cynthia Canan, camp director and lecturer, and her team got together and made a plan to pull off a virtual camp.

To put on a virtual version of the camp, which provides high school students interested in biomedical science an overview of pharmacology and its relationship to health, disease and society, the team first had to overcome some obstacles, including internet access for participants and a lack of supplies.

"We were conscious of the digital divide and wanted to make sure that we offered a program where it was accessible to everyone," Canan said. "The camp also relies heavily on learning through experimentation, thus, we had to modify how these activities were conducted. We were able to design several experiments where students could use items found in their homes and were still able to proceed through the scientific method."

Another challenge was avoiding stagnant lecture presentations, so they brainstormed ways to engage students.

"We ended up choosing Articulate 360, a program that allowed us to build interactive lectures and games where students were able to explore and learn at their own pace," she said.

While they weren't sure what the reception to the online version would be, it ended up being a hit.

"With so many uncertainties over the summer, we were nervous that interest in the program would be low," she said. "However, we were fortunate enough to fill all 50 spots in our program with additional students on our waitlist."

While the camp participants had a rewarding learning experience through the camp, Canan and her colleagues from the College of Pharmacy also learned some valuable lessons by adapting their program.

"Although it was stressful having to adapt our content to a virtual program, we are very glad to have been given the opportunity to do so," Canan said. "I feel like with what we have created and learned, we will be able to continue a virtual model, even when in-person Pills, Potions and Poisons resumes."