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June 26, 2018

Students learn hands-on in STEM summer camps

Alexzander Soto says he has one goal in attending the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) summer camp at Park Middle School.

“Teachers told me that if I attend, I’m more likely to get into honors math classes in high school,” says Alexzander, who will start his freshman year in the fall. “I want to be at that level.”

Dozens of students at Park and Highlands Middle School are participating in the summer camps operated through Washington State University’s (WSU) GEAR UP program. The summer camps provide students with fun hands-on activities where they can maintain and grow skills crucial to future success in their educations and careers.

At Park, students rotate between classes where they can try their hand at video game design, build robots using LEGO, and design their own carnival games based on statistics and probability.

This is the first time Highlands has a STEM summer camp through GEAR UP and students there are building weather balloons from scratch. The project requires them to consider materials and design. After they launch them, they will get watch them rise above the earth through onboard video cameras.

“This is the kind of project that students likely won’t get to try during the regular school year,” says Jacquelyn Warnock, Highlands’ GEAR UP coordinator. “We’re really trying to inspire them so that they feel that much more engaged and motivated to learn.”

(Photo: Alexzander Soto, right, works with other students at Park Middle School to build a robot using a LEGO Mindstorms kit.)