Full STEAM Ahead At Summer Camp

“I’m a genius!” exclaimed one middle schooler participating in Ohio County Schools’ first ever middle/high school STEAM Camp. The scene is remarkable; students are fully engaged, offer assistance to each other and persist with difficult challenges — all while smiling and giggling.

Students attending the camp are participating in a variety of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) activities. To build teamwork and communication skills, students participate in “Minute to Win It” challenges. Students then rotate through a variety of stations, experiencing different digital tools, coding in different ways and engineering new creations with everyday household materials. Time is allotted for students to explore each new tool before being asked to complete specific challenges with those tools.

The camp also emphasizes public speaking and presentation skills for students. Today at the end of the camps, the students will lead a showcase that is open to school board members, administrators, staff members, parents and community members.

Students are expected to choose a presentation platform that goes beyond a standard PowerPoint and articulate their projects by using good public speaking skills.

Student responses to the camp so far have been overwhelmingly positive. A similar camp for elementary students will be held later in the summer. Ohio County Schools’ innovation coordinator JoJo Shay said, “The students are so excited when they are successful and work diligently when they aren’t. They continually come up with new ideas and change their original plan until they succeed in the challenge. This process of trial and error is a huge part of STEAM, and it is wonderful to see the students stick with it until they reach their goal.”

More than anything, STEAM is about high-quality teaching for our students. This includes a focus on the key aspects of 21st century skills — communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking.

With activities that promote these skills, our students will be more independent, resourceful, and ready to take on challenges in their postsecondary education and career.

Nicole Shepherd is the behavior specialist and alternative education coordinator for Ohio County Schools. She is a board certified behavior analyst and began her career in 2010 as a special educator.

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