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The attendees of the summer scholars program visiting Pike Place Market.

Most teens aren’t keen on spending summer days in camp; they’ve outgrown sleeping bags and roasting s’mores. That’s why the Social Media and Adolescent Health Research Team (SMAHRT) at Seattle Children’s Research Institute is hosting this week a summer scholars program designed to help teens create their own research projects on teen health and media.

Led by Dr. Megan Moreno, principal investigator of the SMAHRT team, the summer scholars program will ask 25 teens ages 16-18, mostly from the Kent and Highline school districts, to help design and answer their own research questions such as:

  • How does Instagram affect adolescents’ well-being?
  • Can you be addicted to the Internet?
  • Does Facebook influence health behaviors for college students?

The students will also learn about different types of research that seek to improve child and adolescent health while experiencing different paths to a career in research or healthcare.

“We realized there was a gap in the community for some kids who haven’t necessarily been able to have educational summer experiences,” Moreno said. “We wanted to offer them a chance to see how exciting research can be and provide a window to the many opportunities that exist in the research and healthcare fields.”

Attendees were selected based off an essay submission that asked why they would like to attend the camp – nearly 60 teens applied for 25 slots. Those who were selected for the scholars program — many of whom are on their school’s free/reduced school lunch program — will receive a $100 stipend to help offset the cost of not being able to work that week. Additionally, they will have their transportation costs covered. At the end of the week, the teens will present their research projects to their parents and Seattle Children’s researchers.

“It was very important to us that the attendees not have any barriers preventing them from attending our program,” Moreno said. “We are so thrilled to have them with us in our inaugural year. Our hope is that the program is a success and that we will be able to offer it again in the future.”

Students who applied but were not accepted to this year’s program will get first consideration if the program is repeated next year, Moreno said.