By ALAN J. ORTBALS
The Madison County Regional Office of Education holds a weeklong STEM camp every summer for second- through sixth-graders and the number of participants keeps growing.
There were 90 students enrolled in the 2017 camp. That number jumped to more than 100 last year and there were another 36 on the waiting list, said Madison County Regional Superintendent of Schools Bob Daiber.
“Our office is the prime host of it but we also have corporate sponsors like Phillips 66 and the Simmons Law Firm,” Daiber said. “We breakout the kids who are attending the camp by their age groups and they go through a weeklong set of learning experiences, working with science and technology to get a real grasp on how things are designed and engineered in our world. They’ve done things like make a model rocket; build a device that collects heat; create propulsion systems; and learned how microprocessors transmit information in all these handheld devices we have today from our watches to our cell phones.”
The program is held each June at the Center for Educational Opportunity in Troy. To Daiber, it’s about combining science, technology, engineering and math to understand how they work together.
“A lot of kids ask the age-old question, ‘Why do I need to know this?’ Well, when you put them all together it becomes very clear why you need to know this,” Daiber said. “A triangle on a piece of paper may not mean much. But, a triangle in a bridge truss means something altogether different. Now they can see, for example, that it’s going to hold up a bridge and it means a lot more than it did before.”
The camp is staffed by high school and elementary school math, science and technology teachers that are supported by high school and college student interns. It’s a one week program that begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 3:30 p.m. Applicants are accepted on a first come, first served basis and many students participate year after year. Daiber said that he promotes the program through the Madison County elementary schools as well as advertising it on the regional office of education web site.
By ALAN J. ORTBALS