STARKVILLE, Miss. (WJTV) – A group of young people with Autism Spectrum Disorder who are interested in science, technology and related fields are getting a new chance to learn about physics and other topics as part of an innovative camp at Mississippi State University (MSU).

MSU Assistant Professor of Physics Ben Crider is using a $600,000 National Science Foundation 2019 Career Grant to advance his nuclear physics research, which includes a highly interactive summer experience for students with autism that was delayed due to COVID-19.

From June 5 to 11, the residential camp is hosting six high school students, who are taking part in hands-on demonstrations, touring research centers and playing games that drive home scientific concepts. In addition to learning about nuclear physics, they also are learning about electricity, aerodynamics and astronomy, among other topics. The camp will culminate with the “Physics Olympics” on Friday.

“As far as I know—and I can’t say this with absolute certainty—but we believe this is the only physics-focused camp for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the country,” Crider said. “At MSU, we have a lot of resources for folks with ASD, so this is not only a camp to come and learn physics, but also to come and see what the campus has to offer in terms of resources that are both fun and interesting regarding research and support for other needs.”