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Olathe North graduate will take her knowledge of penguins to national science camp

Penguins on parade at Kansas City Zoo

Due to the warm weather, Bubbles, Magdalena (who goes by goes by Maggie), Hota and Pachon were the only Humboldt penguins (a South American species found on the coasts of Chile and Peru) to take a stroll around the Helzberg Penguin Plaza at the Ka
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Due to the warm weather, Bubbles, Magdalena (who goes by goes by Maggie), Hota and Pachon were the only Humboldt penguins (a South American species found on the coasts of Chile and Peru) to take a stroll around the Helzberg Penguin Plaza at the Ka

Andrea Dahl is a penguin aficionado.

She spent much of high school researching penguin dialects, studying how the birds vocalize and communicate with each other. Dahl, 17, is an expert on Gentoo penguins, which are distinguished by a white-striped “bonnet” across their heads. But she has also analyzed how penguin communication varies among zoos in Kansas City, Detroit and New York.

This month, Dahl, a recent Olathe North High School graduate, will take her knowledge to the National Youth Science Camp, a prestigious, month-long camp in rural West Virginia.

Dahl was selected as one of two Kansas delegates to participate. She was nominated by Gov. Sam Brownback and will join 108 other students at the camp.

“It’s definitely an honor. I was surprised I was chosen,” Dahl said. “I’m excited to learn about new areas of science that I haven’t been exposed to yet.”

The camp allows recent high school graduates, two from each state and Washington D.C. as well as others from selected countries, to attend lectures and participate in studies led by scientists and professors from around the world. Delegates will also participate in outdoor activities such as camping, climbing and mountain biking.

Dahl said she’s always been interested in science. She has experience with biology and computer science through her research on penguin dialects, but Dahl looks forward to exploring new disciplines at the camp. She hopes the experience will help her pick a major at Stanford University, where she’ll be a freshman in the fall.

“I have all these interests that I’m hoping to combine in some way,” she said. “That’s something I want to focus on while I’m at this camp.”

The camp began in 1963 and has hosted more than 5,000 students. It’s funded by the National Youth Science Foundation, the state of West Virginia, the U.S. State Department, and donations from alumni, corporations and foundations.

Delegates were selected based on academic achievement and will attend free of charge.

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