The Richmond Register

June 22, 2013

STEM Camp fosters technical learning, friendly competition

Seth Littrell
CNHI News Service

RICHMOND —

Students from across Madison County got the chance to engage in friendly competition with each other at the STEM Summer Camp showcase Friday night at B. Michael Caudill Middle School.

STEM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, is a summer camp geared to increasing middle school students’ interest in these academic areas, according to Steve Marionneaux, pre-engineering instructor at Caudill and director of STEM Summer Camp.

“We’re encouraging kids to understand that you use these things in everyday life,” Marionneaux said. “We, as a country, have fallen behind in these areas, where we used to be a leader.”

The students showed off three projects they had worked on during the week-long camp.

The first was a cantilever, similar in design to a bridge, to test the students’ understanding of engineering.

The campers were divided into teams of two, and each team tested their engineering skills by adding weight to their cantilevers until they broke.

“The cantilever was my favorite project,” said Chase Bressley, a student at the camp. “I learned lots of new stuff about supporting beams and bridges, and about design.”

The campers also worked on T-bots, robotic arms controlled by water pressure that could be manipulated by syringes the students used as remote controls.

Teams raced against each other and the clock to move small items from one area to another, trying to move the most before time ran out.

A third event at the camp was an obstacle course run by Lego robots that the campers built and programed themselves. Student Carson Randolph said this was his favorite project to work on.

“It was entirely programing, and I loved that part,” Randolph said.

STEM Summer Camp is funded by a Verizon Foundation grant matched by funding raised by the schools and their partners. It is a partnership among the United Way of the Bluegrass, Madison County schools, and Berea College’s Gear Up program.

This year 22 boys and 12 girls signed up for the camp, although some of the children left early to participate in summer sports, Marionneaux said.

Seth Littrell can be reached at slittrell@richmondregister.com or 624-6623.