Thanks to a number of community organizations, schools districts and universities that offered METS (math, science, engineering and technology) summer camp experiences, students (ages 5-18) kept learning throughout the summer. The camps brought students together in a fun environment, to stimulate their minds and help them to look at learning in a new way.
Thirty-one middle school students enrolled in the STEPS (Science, Technology & Engineering Preview) Summer Academy hosted by the Shawnee Mission (Kan.) School District. The week-long camp, held June 11-15, used these disciplines to brainstorm ideas and solve problems. The projects carried out included building robotic vehicles, electronic sensing circuits, and rockets. The students also learned reverse engineering as they disassembled and reassembled gliders using CAD solid modeling software.
"It's given me a whole different aspect of engineering and creating different kinds of models," one eighth grade student said. "I wish the class would go on for another week. I think this is better than video games."
Other students described the class as exciting and fun. One student commented, "I wish they did this at my school."
Anita Welch, pre-engineering/science teacher at Shawnee Mission South High School in the Shawnee Mission (Kan.) School District, led the camp.
"We're fostering in them an interest in science and engineering," Welch said. "They get to see how you use math in everyday life. They also are seeing that there is not just one right answer to a problem, and that there are a number of ways to solve problems."
At the University of St. Mary, Leavenworth, Kan., the ninth annual Latino Math and Science Academy (LMASA) took place June 11 through July 6. The goal of the month-long camp is to encourage an interest in mathematics and science in Latino students. The camp was open to high school students in Wyandotte and Jackson counties. This year, 18 students enrolled.
During a chemistry class the first week of camp, students conducted a chloride analysis of water. While some students said they had participated in similar lab exercises in high school, the majority had no previous exposure.
"I feel like a real scientist," one student commented. Another described the exercise as "cool."