Camp offers full STEM experience for elementary students

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Georgia Highlands College isn't finished with offering summer camps for kids.

The Cartersville campus will be hosting its Summer STEM Academy for rising third-, fourth- and fifth-graders July 16-20 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the student center.

During the weeklong adventure, students will be immersed in science, technology, engineering and mathematics activities that reinforce and supplement the Georgia Standards of Excellence for those areas while also learning collaboration, critical-thinking and problem-solving to sharpen the vital 21st century learning skills.     

"The division of natural science and physical education has partnered with Bartow County Schools, Cartersville City Schools and the community at large on several projects over the past three years to expose students to STEM," division Dean Dr. Gregory Ford said, noting GHC has "worked diligently to increase our footprint in the community." "We know that if we expose kids to STEM early and often, it will increase their proficiency in math and science. These courses are necessary for the high-paying, 21st century STEM careers on the horizon. These skills in problem-solving and critical-thinking will also span other career fields."

Biology professor Sharryse Henderson said GHC has offered several STEM camps in the past, but each one "has been a little bit different."

"Some have targeted middle school students or rising high school students," she said. "Others have focused on the science and math part of STEM while others have focused more on the technology or engineering piece. This particular STEM Academy is open to rising third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students and focuses on exposing the students to all four aspects of STEM."

In the mornings, students will participate in hands-on science and math activities: making rock candy (chemistry), rocketry (physics), making DNA necklaces (biology), building a Thermohouse (environmental science) and simulating the affects of pollution on groundwater (earth science). 

The afternoons will be devoted to technology and engineering, with campers doing coding, programming and engineering projects with devices like LEGO Mindstorm Robots, Arduinos and Spheros. 

Camp instructor Robin Morrow, a GATEWAY teacher from Clear Creek Elementary School, said the program will focus on the older elementary students "so we can go deeper with content and hopefully inspire them to take more science classes as they get older."

"With the increased need for students to enter STEM careers, it is important to foster students’ interest in science and technology," she said. "I hope the students will learn how exciting science can be and some of the different disciplines. At the elementary level, we don’t usually get to do as many experiments and dissections with students so I am thrilled to be able to offer these experiences to students in a college science lab."   

Cost of the camp is $149, with early drop-off between 7:30 and 9 a.m. and late pickup between 4 and 5:30 p.m. available for an additional $50 for the week.

"We recognize that parents have tight working schedules, and we don't want work schedules to prevent students from being able to participate," Ford said. "We are proud to offer this extra service."

Parents can send their children to camp with a lunch each day or they can purchase an optional lunch plan, provided by the GHC Campus Cafe, for $35 for the week.    

The camp can host 25 students, and as of Friday, only five slots remained, Ford said.

All campers will receive a complimentary T-shirt.

To register, visit https://aceweb.highlands.edu/wconnect/ace/CourseStatus.awp?&Course=18SCMP102. For questions, email STEM@highlands.edu.