The STEM SEALs team is very optimistic about the coming year and is busy preparing to launch a full Summer Institute in 2021 to accomplish its mission of SEA , AIR and LAND Challenges for rural middle school students .
Lura Sapp Project Coordinator
develop prototypes and student learning activities for the Summer Institutes .
In the Spring of 2020 , STEM SEALs visited area schools and recruited 90 teachers to help review content and engage in a small sampling of the developed learning modules . Each participant in the Review Team process received a micro : bit – a small microcomputer used to control STEM SEALs robotic devices - and learned basic coding to implement simple commands . Feedback from this process helped refine and enhance the learning activities and resources .
After the review process , the STEM SEALs team worked to finalize what to include in the inaugural Summer Institute . Then the COVID-19 pandemic struck , and along with it the uncertainty of how to implement the program and uphold strict distancing measures to ensure participants ’ safety . The result was a scaled-down Summer Institute that only involved the LAND Challenge and robotic rovers . Rover kits and activity manuals were mailed or delivered to each participant . The camp was held virtually July 8-17 for 29 participants , including teachers and students . Daily meetings were scheduled on Zoom with an open forum to allow students to access readily available help from the NFC team . Students and teachers first learned to use and code the micro : bit . They then assembled the rovers and worked through modules on controlling and moving the robotic land explorers .
A friendly competition wrapped up the Summer Institute . Students exhibited their robotic rovers , showing off all the STEM skills they had learned . Held in the cafetorium at James Madison Preparatory High School , students were scheduled over two-days to compete . The competition was filmed and broadcast live for all to join in . STEM SEALs Year 1 awards and closing remarks were shared via Zoom on July 17 .
The NFC STEM SEALs research and evaluation teams have now moved again into development mode . Gleaning information from collected data and feedback , the teams will now further refine the STEM SEALs program with help from the Year 2 Design Team which met for the first time in October .
Those interested in collaborating , contributing or participating in the STEM SEALs program should contact Lura Murfee Sapp , Project Coordinator , at sappl @ nfc . edu or ( 850 ) 973-1660 .