The Missouri Reader Vol. 43, Issue 2 - Page 18

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by

Neha Anand and Bulent Dogan

2018 MO-STAR List

2018 MO-STAR List

It was our last day at the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) summer camp (ages 6 – 10 years). After a small award and appreciation ceremony, it was time to say goodbye to the campers.

Thank you so much Ms. Neha. I will miss you,” said Saya (pseudo name), one of my students.

“My daughter enjoyed learning under your mentorship. We would love to have you work with her again next summer,” said a parent.

Several other parents talked to the instructional coaches* at the summer camp to express appreciation for the program and how their children learned a great deal after being exposed to the STEM curriculum. Parents valued the fact that the curriculum and instructional methods used in the camp were fun and promoted the higher-order thinking skills in their young children.

STEM Summer Camp Curriculum

The camp offered a three-week session for elementary school students. The instructional activities in the camp combined skills that could be applied both in school and home environments. The STEM camp instruction was comprised of the following curricular and instructional tools: i) Coding with Scratch; ii) Digital Storytelling with WeVideo, iii) Three-dimensional printing knowledge and skills with TinkerCad, and iv) Arts (turning STEM into STEAM). The vision behind the curriculum of the summer camp was not only to challenge young minds but also prepare them for the skills of the 21st century.

*Instructional coaches are the trained professionals who support student/campers during the summer camp. (adopted from http://piic.pacoaching.org/index.php/piic-coaching/what-is-an-instructional-coach).

Students were provided with a written set of instructions to carry out the activity assigned for a day. All students were working on similar topics: however, the difficulty of their projects increased with each grade level.

STEM Camp Procedures

A total of sixty–seven elementary school students participated in the camp managed by the camp head, instructional coaches, and other volunteers. The students were grouped based on their grade level. Instructional coaches received a week-long training about the software that is part of the curriculum before the arrival of the student . Instructional coaches were responsible for helping students to carry daily activities, help students record and maintain daily journals, and help students navigating the technology tools for them to execute their projects.

The projects were divided and grouped differently for each week to ensure persistent student engagement. Every project incorporated arts as an essential domain. For instance, i) students created a flipbook in their Arts session and later their creation was transformed into the digital storytelling project supported by their voice over ; ii) students designed a few three – dimensional figures and got the opportunity to watch them printed.

Pic.1. Students were exposed to the functioning

of a three-dimensional printer

Positive Attitudes Toward Challenges

Snack time was a great opportunity to connect with the studentsas they played games outside as a group after they finished eating. Snack time breaks are a perfect opportunity to strengthen ties with the students and find out about their interests and opinions about the activities that they were doing at the camp.

When asked about their favorite content areas, the great majority replied mathematics or science or both. These first graders were not scared of mathematics or science. During our conversations, we observed that not all schools offer STEM curriculum to the elementary students, especially to grades K-2. Research suggests that that early elementary students are not exposed to robust STEM curriculum at their schools (Menshah, 2010). Nevertheless, in the camp, the early elementary students took great interest in STEM projects. They were willing to get into the next level of programming as they asked for more challenging activities to perform each day.

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Special STEM Section