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August 06, 2012

STEM Camp 2012

Drexel recently partnered with PECO to provide a new educational opportunity for rising fifth graders in the Mantua and Powelton Village communities who are interested in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The Summer STEM Career Camp, which ran July 16-20 at the School of the Future in West Philadelphia, encouraged and engaged students to satisfy their curiosity with industry-related mentors and hands-on workshops and activities. Mentors also acted as role models to guide them toward their educational goals and ultimately a career path within one of the STEM industries.

Students are from the following elementary schools in the community: Samuel Powel, Morton McMichael, Alain Locke and Martha Washington.

The STEM Camp is the brainchild of Dean William Lynch of Goodwin College, working in concert with the leadership of PECO. Hope Yursa, a faculty member in Drexel's School of Education, served as camp director and academic event planner. Yursa says the camp engaged students in fun activities that kept them interested while also teaching them important lessons in the key sectors.

A typical day at STEM Camp involved a morning lesson in one of the STEM topics, followed by an educational field trip that allowed the students to see the lessons turned into various careers. Industry tour guides led most of the field trips. Field trips were focused on construction (with visits to Drexel’s biowall in the Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building, and the LeBow and Chestnut Street construction sites); transportation (including a walking tour behind the scenes Amtrak’s 30th Street Station); energy (where students took a motorcoach trip to a wind farm and environmental center); communications (with students visiting PECO headquarters and the Franklin Institute); and technology courtesy of Goodwin College’s technology staff.

Each day, students received two books: one fiction, and one informational text on the day’s topic. On the first day of camp, each student received a mini video camera to capture their STEM experience. During the week, they spent several hours in Goodwin’s computer labs, learning how to edit and add sound to their video footage. Finally, students put technology into practice by compiling the week’s activities into a video that they presented to family. Although camp is over, the students have access to a STEM website, where they can join clubs based on their specific STEM interest.

Throughout the duration of the camp, students worked with Drexel faculty, staff and industry partners on challenging and fun STEM projects and activities. STEM Camp is the University’s first in a series of activities to engage students in the future STEM career opportunities. In subsequent years, a plan is in place to expand the program to sixth, seventh, and eighth graders.