Raising awareness and introducing kids to STEM

Jaylee Shaffer runs a wheel and axle during Pella Corporation’s presentation on simple machines, Wednesday, Aug. 7 during STEM Camp at Shenandoah High School. Zoe Young (left) and Rylyn Van Essen (right) wait for their turn.

Photo by Bryan Clark/Valley News

Shenandoah elementary and middle school students spent the week learning about school subjects like math and science in fun ways like catapults and explosions.

Shenandoah High School hosted its first STEM camp Aug. 5-9. Shenandoah High School Robotics teacher Julie Mount instructed the 25 campers with the assistance of her high school club members.

STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering and Math and Mount said a goal of the camp was to give these kids opportunities to learn real life skills with a hands-on approach, associated with at least one of the STEM areas.

“Math is not just looking at a textbook and doing problems,” said Mount. “We looked at what math can do in real life, and what do engineers do? STEM integrates all of that together.”

The camp was used as a fundraiser for the Robotics Club at the high school.

“While it was a fundraiser for our robotics class,” said Mount, “we really wanted to use it to raise awareness and to introduce kids to STEM at a younger age.”

The camp lasted from 8:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. While there the kids built a self-contained fully functional computer. They also did some science experiments, including exploding watermelons and the Mobius Strip. Pella Corporation came in one day to show them simple machines and they used catapults. They also used technology that isn’t traditional computer technology. Mount said a lot of what she used for the camp came from Area Education Agency resources.

“I did a lot of research,” said Mount. “I got stuff ahead of time and played with it. I liked some things and didn’t others and then tried to fill the rest in with other projects, just hands-on things.”

While this was a great fundraiser for the Robotics Club, Mount emphasized it’s an expensive club to maintain and they are looking for community sponsors to help out. Anyone interested can contact the school.

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