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  • Southeast USD 247 hosts STEM summer camp

  • Officially, the Southeast USD 247 summer camp is the Final Destination Summer Camp. Unofficially, it’s a STEM summer camp that drew almost 150 students.

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  • Officially, the Southeast USD 247 summer camp is the Final Destination Summer Camp. Unofficially, it’s a STEM summer camp that drew almost 150 students.
    To educators, the letters STEM are a common acronym that stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The summer camp is five days a week, during the months of June and July, and is free to incoming sixth through 12th grade students in the district. Students attending are also provided breakfast and lunch.
    “Each day, kids can choose to go to an agriculture or a STEM class,” said Debbie Clawson, curriculum director at USD 247 and program director for the camp. “Or they can start off with fitness and conditioning, then go to STEM or a computer class, or start with those and go to the others. They’ve got some flexibility there.”
    There is a little structure in the week, however. On Mondays, students can choose to go to the Southeast Kansas Education Service Center (Greenbush) for hands-on education. On Fridays, an education-related field trip is in store, such as last week’s trip to the Cessna aircraft plant in Independence.
    “There were people on that trip who thought they’d never be interested in airplanes that got really into it,” said Janet Wydick, summer camp teacher. “We put the fun into learning, so kids can think, ‘Oh, that’s not such a bad subject.’ Otherwise, you might mention math to them and they’d just say, ‘Ugh.’”
    Mondays, there are plenty of activities to keep students busy for those that attend Greenbush. For instance, yesterday’s group at Greenbush had some from Southeast on an overnight camp while another group went on a zipline (to learn about physics) then spent much of the day building and dropping their own egg “carriage.” Last week, the students in the latter group got to launch water balloons, make ice cream with liquid nitrogen, and made body pendulums.
    Tuesday through Thursday, there are plenty of groups that the students can choose from various activities largely around the theme of STEM.
    “Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday, we have a vo-ag group that was building pens for animals. They went to a sale for animals and bought sheep and goats, and now they’re building a vegetable garden,” Wydick said. “There’s a robotics group actually building robots. Another group does different things. They made their own kites and had sophisticated paper aircraft. They’ve got balsa wood aircraft and will eventually do rockets.”
    The summer camp is funded through a 21st Century grant through the federal government. The grant is a five-year grnt, and this is the first of five summers the program will be offered. Further funding and assistance comes from the Civil Air Patrol.
    Ultimately, whether it’s an egg drop, gliders, field trips, robotics, etc., it all comes back to the theme of STEM.
    Page 2 of 2 - “The growing field is STEM,” Clawson said. “If you do well on those subjects, the more prepared they’ll be for careers, and they’ll get jobs in those areas. The kids enjoy them. A lot of activities are hands-on... We’re preparing them for college- and career-ready classes.”

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