SPOKANE, Wash. — More than a dozen Grant Elementary fifth and sixth graders will get a glimpse of how to be environmental detectives as part of an after-school program offered Dec. 3-6 by Washington State University Spokane CityLab.

Students will employ problem-solving skills and work as a group to choose which experiments to run in order to solve the mystery of why the fictional Farmer Gooseberry’s famous racing chickens are dying.

Experiments conducted by the students will include investigating bacteria growth in water and soil, measuring Ph levels and discussing their importance, studying lead in the environment and designing protocols to find which chicks are the fastest so they can be bred to be racers. Live chicks make an appearance the last day of camp.

“The program and venue gives kids creative, interesting, and positive activities to take part in after school,” said Keith Orchard, CityLab camp instructor. Students sign up for the program on a voluntary basis and learn about problem solving, working as a team and how to use lab equipment.

The program runs this Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (Dec. 3-6) from 3:30-5 p.m. at Grant Elementary School, 1300 E 9th, Spokane.

The after-school, science camps are conducted by Washington State University Spokane CityLab in conjunction with Spokane Public Schools as part of the U.S. Department of Education 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant, known locally as the HUBS program. Two after-school CityLab programs a month will be held from January through the remainder of the school year at other District 81 schools in Spokane.

Created in l995 by research scientist Sylvia Adams Oliver, Ph. D., as a satellite of Boston University School of Medicine CityLab, WSU Spokane CityLab provides eastern Washington middle and high school students and teachers valuable educational experiences in biotechnology and related sciences. CityLab is one of the WSU Spokane programs moving into the new Health Sciences Building in January 2002.

Contact Kaarin Appel at 358-7528 to arrange photo opportunities and interviews with Keith Orchard and/or student participants.