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June 18, 2020
Summer STEM Camp Finds an Alternative Way to Get Students Involved

Written by Communications Department Intern Anna Schmeltz

Since the annual Summer STEM Camp for middle school students was cancelled, department chairs Daun Biewenga at Maine South, Becky Stewart at Maine East and Samantha Archer at Maine West coordinated efforts to provide an alternative camp experience for students that was on demand and self guided.

The goal is to generate enthusiasm for STEM students who may not have traditionally enrolled in the program due to childcare or transportation issues.

The Summer STEM Camp program used grant funds to purchase nearly 600 project kits that were distributed to middle schools in Districts 62, 63, 64 and 79. Those middle schools provided the kits to students who are picking up free meals over the summer. The project kits included supplies to create different projects like catapults, rolling vehicles, DaVinci bridges and friction climbers.

“We will miss working directly with the students this summer, but we hope that the independent nature of these kits helps students see that they already have some skills that scientists and engineers use all the time in their work, and that STEM activities can be really fun,” says Maine South Science Department Chair Daun Biewenga.

“It was our priority to still be able to provide an opportunity to engage middle schoolers at some level to introduce them to the world of STEM,” says Maine West CTE Department Chair Samantha Archer. “Most park districts and school summer camps were cancelled and since we were still in an e-Learning mindset, we thought why couldn’t we provide this unique experience? Distributing the kits to students who were picking up free meals seemed to make the most sense so we could provide an experience to students who may not have typically enrolled in our in-person summer camp.”

The Summer STEM Camp website also provides a guide for students to create their own inventions using household supplies. The website can be found here: https://sites.google.com/a/maine207.org/d207-summer-stem-camp/home