When 11-year-old Kloe Webb joined a STEM summer camp at Community College of Philadelphia (CCP), she only had a slight interest in science. After participating in the camp, she said she liked the subject more than she ever did before.
“The camp made science more interesting for me because it showed me various topics of science,” Kloe said. “I now know that science is a really broad subject and the possibilities of things you can do in science are endless.”
Kloe is among a group of students that participated in CCP’s Jr. STEM Academy, a program for middle and high school students in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Established in 2019, the program offers a variety of events to expose students to various STEM careers across disciplines.
Through CCP’s Division of Access and Community Engagement, the program is currently running a STEM summer camp that combines live instruction with pre-recorded lessons due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The theme for this year’s camps is space and titled “Uncharted Exploration.”
“Our goal within the STEM Academy is to introduce students to the possibility of doing something in these fields,” said CCP STEM College Experience Coordinator Stephanie Austin Johnson. “If you’re in our camps, learning about the space station, you can be inspired to become an astronaut.
“You can aspire to become a mathematician to work on formulas to help with spaceflight,” she added. “You can aspire to become an engineer to work on the next space mission. There are so many possibilities that are available to you. As long as you’re exposed to it, and you learn about it, you can see yourself doing it.”
Beginning Aug. 9-26, students will be participating in a camp titled “Space Invaders with MIT App Inventor.”
During the camp, students will learn how to transform an idea into a functional app for smartphones and tablets, dive into the world of mobile app creation with MIT’s app creator and learn how to code their first gaming app. By the end of the camp, students will also pitch their space theme game idea.
“We’re going to start off with a smaller app first, so the students can get a grasp of that and then we will move into a larger app where the students will be designing how the game works,” said camp instructor Piper Johnson. “This camp will have more of a focus on coding, so it’s going to be a little bit more focused.”
The space invaders camp is the second summer camp for the program. Ten students participated in Minecraft in Space camp for three weeks in July.
In that camp, students explored the International Space Station (ISS) through the video game Minecraft, learned about the technology used to create and maintain ISS,as well as learned the effects of living in space on the human body as they built their own ISS model.
“In the morning, we would go over math like order of operations, areas and volumes which was then followed by creating stuff on Minecraft,” Johnson said. “I had them work on creating buildings using surface area. We had a scavenger hunt where they had to use order of operations to figure out the coordinates for different things.
“In the afternoon, we went over ISS,” she added. “We used YouTube, online resources to show astronauts rooms, how they make food and grow plants. We also had two space launches during this camp with Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos, so we also talked about that. At the end of the camp, students wrote letters to NASA.”
Kloe, who participated in the Minecraft session, said her favorite project in the camp was building a rocket ship.
“We had to follow this template to make a rocket ship,” Kloe said. “It was really fun for me because you got to decide what you wanted to do with the project. There wasn’t a list you had to follow in order to complete the project.”
Kloe will also be participating in the Space Invaders session. She said what she’s looking forward to the most in that camp is learning how to code.
“I’m really excited to learn how to code and make my own app,” Kloe said. “I feel like it’s a good skill to have because you never know what you’re going to do when you grow up.”
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