STEM Camp illuminates concepts in the real world

MUSCATINE, Iowa–A passionate learner and eighth grade science teacher at Susan Clark Junior High School, Pam Joslyn looked for a way to share her love of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) with students with more immediacy and real-world connections than a typical class offers. When she saw that Muscatine Community School District had federal grant money available for teachers, she requested some. She hoped to create a new weeklong summer STEM program to increase engagement among older students, and the District granted her the funds to do so. Taking advantage of this chance, Joslyn developed STEM Camp for students entering eighth and ninth grade. “I thought this would be a good time for students to see STEM outside the four walls of a school,” she explained.

A completely free experience for up to 45 students, STEM Camp will feature a mix of fieldtrips and in school experiments designed to give students a new perspective on STEM. The camp will begin on Monday, Aug. 9 with students visiting the Environmental Learning Center to find out about local ecology and the natural world in general. On Tuesday, students will try their hands at a deceptively difficult engineering task taken straight from the Physics Olympiad. On Wednesday, day campers will learn about the environmental benefits of reducing plastic waste and brainstorm ways to do it in their own community. In preparation for a trip to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, one of the country’s leading science museums, students will learn about museum etiquette Thursday.

To round out the week, students will take a charter bus to the Museum Friday where they will experience many intriguing exhibits. With numerous exhibits to choose from, such as those looking at weather, the human body, genetics, the history of transportation, and much more, students will have a world class STEM experience unlike any they have had before. Students may also have the opportunity to view one of the museum’s traveling exhibits as well.

As an added benefit, each student participating will receive a free lunch each day, delivered directly to Susan Clark Junior High School, courtesy of the summer lunch program. They will also get a free STEM Camp shirt to wear on museum day.

With only a few weeks remaining before STEM Camp, Joslyn encourages any families interested in enrolling a student to contact her via email at [email protected]. Students who participate must attend each daylong session. She hopes the opportunity will widen students experiences and help them develop a lasting interest in STEM. “A lot of times, we limit what we know based on what we’ve done and seen,” Joslyn observed. “This gives the chance to expand their capacity to be human.”