From building beanstalks to developing prostheses, over 300 K-12 students across three students participated in hands-on camp activities this summer that sparked their interest in STEM careers and build up their excitement for the 2021/22 school year. Learning Undefeated partnered with school districts and industry professionals across the country to run summer camps that reengaged students in learning and provided them with real-world experiences.
Following an unusual school year, it was important that students had the opportunity to explore STEM topics, participate in engineering design challenges, play games, and just have fun! Learning Undefeated’s incredible team of professional educators guided campers every step of the way, using both large and small groups that allow for detailed, individualized, and peer-to-peer interaction. We rounded up our favorite highlights from the five STEM summer camps that took place during the summer of 2021.
Region Five Calcasieu Parish Summer Camp – Calcasieu, Louisiana
Sixty grade 6-12 students from the Region Five STEM Center in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana participated in two weeklong sessions of the Young Explorers Science Program during July. Each day, students completed a different hands-on activity that expanded their knowledge of science, technology, engineering, and math. While onboard the Drop Anywhere Lab, campers were immersed in interactive gameplay to build an understanding of chemistry concepts. After using evidence to form arguments about physical vs. chemical reactions, students headed inside to continue the learning experience.
Thurmont Primary School Camp – Frederick, Maryland
Teachers at Thurmont Primary School couldn’t wait to surprise their students with a special hands-on assembly during their summer school program. Over the course of three days, K-2 campers learned about the engineering design process through three activities based on popular children’s’ storybooks including Jack and the Beanstalk, The Three Little Pigs, and the Dandelion Seed Dispersal Challenge. After reading The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, campers each received a problem to solve. In the story, the wolf sneezed and blew down the homes of the three pigs. Campers put on their engineering hats to help the eldest pig figure out the best way to rebuild their homes. Using the engineering design concepts they learned earlier in the session, students were able to successfully build a home that could withstand the wolf’s sneeze for five seconds.
Another fan favorite from the session was when campers read Jack and the Beanstalk and were tasked with helping Jack build a “beanstalk” that could reach all the way up to the giant’s castle in the sky. Campers enthusiastically jumped into this challenge, applying the skills they learned earlier on.
Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy Camp – Houston, Texas
Middle school students from the Young Women’s Preparatory Academy in Houston learned about DNA extraction and the engineering design process during a special three-day camp event. Onboard the Drop Anywhere Lab, the girls were introduced to micropipettes, an essential lab instrument used by STEM professionals, and extracted DNA from strawberries, bananas, and kiwis while testing out their own hypotheses. Campers also learned about the engineering design process and biomimicry through a challenge to develop a prosthesis that could pick up and hold a water bottle for 30 seconds. Although this is one of our more difficult engineering design challenges, two groups were ecstatic when they successfully completed the task!
At-Home Explorers: Digital STEM Summer Camp – Maryland
Back by popular demand, middle school students from the Housing Opportunities Commission of Mongomery County, Maryalnd participated in our virtual STEM summer camp. Each camper received a custom-made At-Home Science Kit that contained all of the supplies and materials they would need throughout the five-day session. The camp kicked off over Google Meet with ice breaker sessions and games to get the students familiar with our educators and their fellow peers. Campers watched interactive science videos and participated in breakout sessions led by our camp counselors.
Virtual camp students were given the same opportunities as those who participated in in-person sessions, creating their own bouncy balls, making slime, and building water towers.
“It was so incredible to see – everyone was so interactive, we didn’t have to tell anyone to turn their cameras on. They just really enjoyed the activities,” said Desurae Matthews, Education Program Lead for Learning Undefeated. Three out of the five days, STEM professionals from REGENXBIO, Lockheed Martin, and CNSI discussed their jobs and explained to the campers how they got to be where they are now in their careers. Students were extremely engaged in these conversations, asking very detailed questions about their specific career paths.
Baltimore City Schools Young Science Explorers Program – Baltimore, Maryland
This summer, rising middle school students disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 attended in two, two-week sessions of the Young Science Explorers Program. Thanks to our longstanding partnership with Baltimore City Schools, students were able to participate in high-energy science demonstrations, immersive learning environments, and hands-on investigations. Each day, the 75 campers were introduced to a new STEM topic – including chemical reactions, properties of matter, and forces and motion – then spent the day exploring concepts through games, experiments, and challenges. Campers were more than excited to jump on the mobile labs to complete hands-on experiments.
Learning Undefeated’s disaster recovery education program emphasizes engaging, hands-on STEM learning experiences designed to help students re-engage with learning during a time when disaster-related stresses are incredibly real. Learn how Learning Undefeated has helped students and teachers impacted by disasters re-engage with STEM education: https://www.learningundefeated.org/disaster-recovery-education/
Learning Undefeated would like to thank to the following partners for their support of our summer camp programming, including AstraZeneca, Leidos, Grace, REGENXBIO, Lockheed Martin, Sikorsky Aircraft, CNSI, and BP.