Forty-one middle-school students from Durham, Wake, Edgecombe, Halifax and Nash counties explored the world of science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) during the STEAM Summer Camp at North Carolina Central University (NCCU).
Students attended the two-week residential camp at no charge thanks to scholarship support from AT&T North Carolina and American Baptist Home Mission Societies’ Community Outreach Ministries. The camp provided 41 participants an opportunity to strengthen their skills in science, technology, engineering, art and math under the direction of college professors and science professionals. Global Health Connections International, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization headquartered in Raleigh, N.C., facilitated the camp.
“The STEAM Camp is a great opportunity to provide students with hands-on learning experiences that serve as a foundation for developing student interest in science, technology, engineering, art and math careers,” said Undi Hoffler, Ph.D., director of NCCU’s Office of Research Compliance & Technology Transfer.
Interactive, project-based workshops taught by middle school educators and NCCU faculty at the university’s Fabrication Laboratory, School of Education, Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise (BRITE) and the Mary Townes Science Complex provided daily activity for the group.
Elliott O’Brien, a Durham native, said the most exciting part of the camp was the hands-on activities he experienced in different labs.
“I’ve learned some interesting things about engineering, in addition to biotechnology. I also enjoyed receiving information about NCCU’s BRITE program and how they use biotechnology in research,” said O’Brien, an aspiring computer scientist.
The campers gained a learned about science opportunities within their own communities through museum visits and other excursions, meeting professionals who could discuss exciting and diverse careers in STEAM fields.
Students heard from Terry Lewis, a renowned music producer, about the impact of science, technology, engineering and math on his artistic career as a Grammy award-winning songwriter, music producer and entrepreneur. The young campers also wrote and produced songs to perform in front of an audience that included Lewis.
North Carolina-based clothing designer Rick Moore spent time at STEAM camp, meeting with students to talk about the varying skills required when bringing a garment from concept to runway. As CEO and chief designer for Carolina Culture Clothing and Nyla Elise, Moore was able to provide students with an overview his experiences within a STEAM-related career.
The campers also took part in the Mars Lander Challenge, a space-themed competition to create a landing module using common household materials. The model spacecraft was to be capable of protecting an astronaut during a planetary landing. During the testing exercise, participants dropped their spacecraft from designated height at intervals and measured the impact. Teams whose spacecrafts landed in the right location with astronauts intact were declared winners.
Cary, N.C., native and STEAM camper Arni Pancras enjoyed exploring University of North Carolina System options during the camp, including North Carolina A&T State University, North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“I learned a lot about the different types of engineering; I would now like to become an architectural engineer,” Pancras said. “This was an exciting experience.”
This summer marks the fifth consecutive year that NCCU and Global Health Connections International have partnered to promote STEM based educational programs.