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University of Arizona Brings Pharmacy Camp to Yuma

Yuma Middle School students got an inside look at the pharmaceutical industry at a summer camp sponsored by the University of Arizona.  Maya Springhawk Robnett of the Arizona Science Desk reports from a local family-owned pharmacy where students got some hands-on training.

During four days in June, 27 Yuma middle-school students learn how to make hand sanitizer and sun screen, as well as how to properly dispose of unused prescription drugs…that is, by crushing them in a plastic bag and mixing them with coffee grounds.

The program’s organizer, University of Arizona’s College of Pharmacy Associate Dean Dr. Theodore Tong, says the point is to teach the scientific method, not just about a single profession.

“We’re not like the Pied Piper who comes into town and takes the children away," Tong says. "We think we’ve introduced them to what the music is. And the music continues to play.”

Natalie Chavez, a 13-year-old Crane Middle School student, thought Pharm Camp would just be something fun to do this summer. But she says the guidance of the college-age counselors have made an impact.  “I’ve always wanted to go to college," she remembers.  "There’s some college students here.  Listening to how much they’ve accomplished really encouraged me.”

The Yuma camp is free for students thanks to donations from community members, such as the Yuma Friends of the Arizona Health Sciences.

UA’s Pharm Camp takes place in six cities this year. The Yuma, Casa Grande and Phoenix camps already ran. The other camps are scheduled for Tucson and Sierra Vista July 11-15 and in Nogales July 5-8.