A transportation STEM camp is inspiring middle school students with hands on experience and new ideas about careers.
Middle school students listened to many speakers at the final ceremony of the Middle School Transportation S.T.E.M. Camp at Washburn. The students spent two weeks living on the Washburn University campus, and participating in daily activities. The camp was free with a grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation and was run by Washburn’s Department of Education.
The 25 students who attended the camp were carefully selected through an application process.
“We targeted, for the most part, Topeka Public Schools, but we have a real broad range of students,” said Cherry Steffen, chair of the Washburn Department of Education. “We had an application process and about 60 applicants for our 25 spots. The students had to turn in an application. They had to write for us a few sentences, but they had to tell us why this was good for them. And then we had a committee who actually selected the 25 chosen.”
“They did robotics, they built rockets, they built solar cars, they built salt-powered cars. They built boats that were run with an electric motor,” said Steffen, “so all of these different modes of transportation. They also spent some time at Washburn Tech looking into careers in transportation.
“Our big goal is for them to be made more aware of careers in transportation and what’s available. So Washburn Tech, they explored things that don’t require a college degree necessarily, but are S.T.E.M. jobs, transportation oriented, and they’re things that they can strive to do, so we really want to give them a broad range.”