When my math colleague, Justin Coffey, approached me with the idea of doing some kind of STEM camp this summer I couldn’t say “yes” fast enough. Lots of planning, purchasing and preparation later, we pulled it off. July 21st – 25th we had 17 soon-to-be fifth graders running around our high school building water rockets, playing with ants and designing electric toothbrush cars. The week was a huge success as evidenced by surveys from both parents and students.
We had LOTS of help. We had administration that was nothing but supportive. We had three other teachers that volunteered their time and expertise to guide us. We had nine teenagers (former students of either Justin or me) assisting us and working one-on-one with the campers. We had community speakers coming in to share their educational story, along with some really cool job experiences. It seems to me that this is a perfect example of how education is supposed to work. Collaboration between adults, teenagers and fifth graders was a beautiful thing to watch. I was a little worn out (okay, actually a lot) by the last day, but I think my educational heart grew three sizes that week. I feel sure we not only taught some cool concepts, but made some positive memories as well. Who knows, maybe we inspired a future Nobel Prize winner!
It was really fun for me to be able to modify and use one of the ecology activities from “Biology Rocks Edition 2.” It was beneficial for me to see that these labs can truly work for about any age of student with some small tweaks. Kids loved the ant farms and were fascinated by their amazing group behavior.
Of course, the campers also met and fell in love with Fluffy, our newest member of the Biology Rocks team. She has a way of mesmerizing most anyone she meets – it’s something about her “amphibian way,” I guess.
So summer is over and it’s time to move back into the classroom. Armed with some new labs from the second edition and new energy derived from our STEM camp experience, I can’t wait!