After school ended for the year, kids returned to bring robots to life and travel through space in a summer camp that STEAMs students – STEAM meaning Science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.
The Shaler Pennsylvania area district’s Summer STEAM Camp opened its second year, after the 2013 pilot year, serving 75 students in the fourth through sixth grades.
District assistant to the superintendent and summer camp coordinator Kara Eckert said about the program “It’s a unique experience. I want them to be able to see they can have fun learning. They are collaborating with friends, making things … the hands-on experience is what makes it.”
Students had the opportunity to participate in four of the nine sessions offered over this year’s four-day camp. Each session incorporates a STEAM concept through project-based learning.
This year, the sessions included robotics, optical-illusion art, bridge building with K’Nex pieces and IKS Titan missions in the elementary school’s simulator classroom. The district also partnered with the Carnegie Science Center to offer a session on the science of sports movements and equipment; Attack Theatre to offer a session on dance and movement; the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh to offer a woodworking and circuitry session; and professional musician Mike Why to offer a live-looping session that uses technology to make music by layering sounds.
Emma Stankovic, an incoming sixth-grader, said she enjoyed the summer camp and learned the value of working together in all of the sessions she participated in.
“It takes teamwork to do stuff,” Stankovic said. “You have to work together to find out options in a lot of the summer camp.”
Many of the sessions are taught by or in partnership with Shaler Area teachers.
Al Dietrich, a fifth-grade teacher at Shaler Area Elementary School, taught this year’s “Saved by the Robots” session, which taught students how to build and program robots through the Lego Mindstorms program.