Amos Alonzo Stagg High School hosted its first STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) camp for incoming freshman called “Summer Challenge: Moving Forward with STEM.” The camp was taught by Stagg High School teachers Kim Buglio and Amy Hainzinger this past July. The three-week camp provided experiences to explore future opportunities in STEM career fields, participate in inquiry-based activities, and take multiple field trips to learn more about the STEM fields.
Through inquiry-based and hands-on learning, students engaged in activities intended to pique their curiosity by exploration of aerodynamics, chemical and physical reactions, simple machines, computer design, 3D printing, thermodynamics, density, buoyancy, teamwork, and problem-solving. Some exciting activities included creating a cardboard boat to learn about the properties of density and buoyancy. Students also utilized a computer program called Autodesk Inventor to learn how to create a 3D model or technical drawing. During an activity called the “Ice Cube Challenge,” students learned about the science of heat transfer while they designed, created and tested a structure to protect an ice cube from melting when placed in a box with a heat lamp. After analyzing data collected, students then had an opportunity to improve their design which is a crucial aspect of the engineering design process. A strong focus on literacy was also incorporated into the program. Hainzinger explains, “a focus on literacy through real-world concepts related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics allows students to build a broad vocabulary and deepen their comprehension and development of complex ideas.”
In addition to classroom activities, students also attended field trips to explore STEM throughout the community and Chicagoland area. These activities included field trips to Fermilab, the Museum of Science and Industry, Accelerated Speedway, Omron Automation, SciTech Museum, Moraine Valley Community College, and iFly all of which directly connected to the STEM content students were learning about during the camp. While at Accelerated Speedway students participated in the Speedway’s STEM Academy. The academy included learning about the history of racing, acceleration, friction, and Newton’s Laws of Motion. Students then applied what they learned through racing each other using Accelerated Speedway’s state of the art go-karts and Grand Prix-style indoor track. The students found the activities to be thought-provoking, engaging, and educational. As one student stated, “I made new friends before starting high school and am now more interested in a STEM career.”
If you are interested in learning more about future STEM activities, please contact Mr. Joe Sieczkowski, Stagg Division Chair of Science, Technology & Engineering Education and Family and Consumer Sciences at firstname.lastname@example.org.