Though school ended for the summer a month ago, Jefferson Elementary School hums with activity from the Muskie Summer STEA2M (science, technology, art, athletics, and mathematics) Camp. An exciting opportunity for students entering kindergarten through sixth grade, the camp offers a new way for students to sharpen their math skills and explore many different subjects.
This year marks the first year for the Muskie Summer STEA2M Camp. Running from June 17th through July 26th, this day long program gives students a significant amount of time to practice the math skills they will use in the year to come, while also developing their science, art, and athletic skills.
To start off their days, students begin with math practice. However, this looks quite different at each level. For rising kindergartners and first graders in Katie Zitzow’s class, this involves doing number talk and learning number sense skills, as well as playing partnered games to practice these skills. For students in Teresa Chavarria’s class for rising sixth graders, focusing exploring concepts such as surface area, volume, and proportional reasoning take up this time. In all classes though, teachers see their students blooming into confident mathematicians. As Zitzow put it, “They’re loving it. The feedback from parents and the community is very positive. They’re going home and talking about what they’re learning.”
In the afternoons, students split their time between working in their classrooms and going to special art, fitness, and STEA2M classes. In each of these areas, students get to go in depth in a way they do not always get to during the school year.
For example, while in Johnny Loos’s STEA2M class, students get to discover the full gambit of what they can explore in these fields. From developing their technology skills by coding Lego robots, to possibly taking field trips to the Muscatine Art Center and Discovery Park, students have unparalleled opportunities to put the connections between the five subjects together. “We want to get them out and doing things while still giving them the math they need,” he added.
Meanwhile in fitness, teacher Becky Eserhaut partnered with many community members to expose students to many physical activities they can enjoy. “The main purpose is to expose them to new things that they might not get otherwise,” she explained. Last week, Joseph Kane and the Muscatine High School (MHS) wrestling team visited to teach students basic wrestling skills and help them hold their own small- scale wrestling tournaments. At other times, Susan Orvis and the MHS girls’ basketball team, Jake Mueller and the MHS football team, a tennis coach, a Zumba instructor, and a pickleball player will all come to give students a taste of these different sports and activities.
Overall, Muskie Summer STEA2M Camp Director Kandy Steel feels very satisfied with the program’s outcomes. “The kids are liking it a lot. [They] feel like they’re learning a lot and becoming mathematicians,” she shared. In future years, she hopes to extend this program and help even more students continue discovering STEA2M all year long.