Last winter, when Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson first proposed a major STEM camp for middle school students, everyone thought it would be a great idea to give middle school students a first-class exposure to career planning and STEM (Science, Technology and Math.) We also realized that the camps would give us an excellent opportunity to showcase our campuses; however, at the time, the task seemed overwhelming.
Fast forward to several months later, and that first camp is officially a success.
In total, 626 students in grades six, seven and eight attended the camps, with each individual grade level engaging in a single, five-day STEM experience at one of our four Oakland County Schools Technical Campuses (OSTC) campuses. Cluster Teacher Leaders developed STEM-rich experiences for the campers that included a “take-away” artifact from each of the seven three-hour activities. Program activities included building and soldering electronic circuits (in Engineering and Emerging Technologies), building models of a flower (in Agriscience and Environmental Tech), making stethoscopes (in Health), programming robots (in iTEAM), making designer paper (in Visual Imaging), assembling cookie-making recipes (in Culinary Arts) and performing diagnostics on cars (in Transportation.)
Tamela Brown-Williams, supervisor for Career Focused Education (CFE), served as camp administrator. She noted the camps had participants from every public school district in the county as well as students from private schools.
“The camp far exceeded our expectations for a new program; it ran amazingly well thanks to a lot of hard work by the staff in CFE in collaboration with staff from other departments such as Learning Services, Technology Services and Communication Services. We hope to expand these partnerships in the future,” she said.
Each student camper spent three, six-hour days doing STEM activities at their technical campus and another full day at Oakland University’s School of Engineering and Computer Sciences’ labs, doing activities such as designing roller-coasters and wind turbines. The fifth day of camp was spent on team-building and career exploration.
“I loved seeing the high level of excitement and engagement the students showed in all of the ‘hands-on’ STEM activities and the resumes that the students created on Career Day were impressive—this lays a good foundation for their career development,” said Jennifer Kluesner, career development consultant and program developer.
Camp survey results showed that the program was remarkably successful in the eyes of both parents and students. All programs were given overwhelmingly positive scores (averaging close to 90 percent) by the campers themselves. Ninety-three percent expressed an interest in attending more STEM Summer Camps at OSTC. Likewise, 91 percent of parents said the experience exceeded their expectations (32 percent said it FAR exceeded!) and, when asked if their child would be interested in attending again, 91 percent said “yes” with 68 percent responding “Definitely yes!”
We can’t wait until next year!
Mike McIntyre is the CFE STEM Coordinator for Oakland Schools.