CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Some of the world's brilliant young minds converged in Charleston on Wednesday as part of a three-week science camp to learn beyond their areas of expertise.
"We focus on diversity in science," said Desiree Henriksen, director of the National Youth Science Camp. "A lot of the [campers] have their minds set on one career path, because it's so easy for them to focus on something they're already good at.
"This is an opportunity to broaden that," she said.
The students -- about 150 in all from across the country and the world -- were introduced at the Clay Center during their first day of the 49th annual National Youth Science Camp that's held at Camp Pocahontas in Thornwood.
Two delegates from each state and a few from 11 other countries who just graduated high school will participate in the 30-day camp.
Charles M. Vest, the guest lecturer of the evening and president emeritus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, explained the array of opportunities that students can experience in the worlds of science and engineering.
The world of technology the students will grow up in is something that Vest, who also serves on the Board of Governors for West Virginia University, told students he's jealous of during the camp's Martha Wehrle Opening Lecture.
Vest said he wished he "could start all over again" and be afforded the opportunities the students will have.
"The world you're entering is changing fast ... education is improving," he said.
Having a science or engineering background can lead to numerous careers -- even in law, business, government, finance and more, Vest told students.
"In my opinion, our society needs more people with science and engineering backgrounds working in other fields," he said.
Vest stressed the importance of teamwork and cooperation -- something students say they're excited to experience during camp.
"I get to meet people from all over the world and see how people think depending on where they're from and their ideas," said Paul Tufis, 18, of Arkansas, who is looking forward to hearing lectures about and studying molecular biology.
Scientists from all over the world will attend the camp to talk with students and conduct experiments with them.
Rafael Ferreira, 16, of Brazil, said he loves math, science, computers, and just likes to learn.
Reach Kate White at kate.wh...@wvgazette.com.