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A Summer Camp That's Never Been Done C4

Missouri S&T offers the only camp where kids can handle explosives—and it’s blowing up

By Selene San Felice

Sam O’Keefe/Missouri S&T; explosion art: tribalium81/adobe stock

Missouri S&T summer camp students blowing stuff up
This camp is the bomb: (Top) A Missouri University of Science and Technology Explosives Camp participant yells, "Fire in the hole!" before detonating a charge at the Experimental Mine. (Bottom) Campers set up charges for underground explosions. The 12-year-old summer program helps the university attract students interested in explosives engineering.

Here's a summer camp where kids will have a blast. For the past 12 years, Missouri University of Science and Technology has hosted Explosives Camp, for which high school juniors and seniors gather for a five-day session to learn the ins and outs of handling explosives; operating bomb squad robots; blasting rock; and making, setting up, and shooting fireworks. Many activities happen in the institution's Experimental Mine, where students can experience real-life mining situations in a controlled environment. Field trips include viewing an underground blasting operation, watching surface blasting at a quarry, and touring a company that specializes in fireworks displays and pyrotechnic performance needs.

In the university's virtual surface mining facility, campers also learn how to use a dragline excavator and shovel trucks in a simulated classroom experience. While other institutions offer similar camps, Missouri S&T is the only one to allow participants 16 years and older to handle explosives. The program has been a potent recruiting tool for the institution, attracting students interested in a career in explosives engineering.

"Everybody does simulations on a computer without actually doing it. We have the ability to control the situation and the expertise to teach this stuff. Why not have an opportunity like this?" says Paul Worsey, a professor of mining and nuclear engineering. He started the camp with just a few students in 2005, and the program is now booming with 30 students each summer.

"I love watching them press the button in the simulator," Worsey says. "Their eyes light up whenever there's a big explosion." The part kids like least? Going home.

About the Author Selene San Felice

Selene San Felice is a Currents 2017 editorial intern.




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