July 7, 2022
STEAM Summer Camp with Mosaic Life Care Foundation
DEFINITION: having the ability to create or design new things or to think originally.
For several area students, a summer afternoon doesn’t involve much channel surfing. Instead, they’ll be practicing new skills and refining others, such as giving commands. Building functions. Envisioning new virtual worlds. Making specially-created animated heroes. Working within the access interface. And coding on the back-end, for front-end awesome action and results.
We’re talking computer coding and robotics … With some physics, mechanics and good old-fashioned deep thinking involved for several of St. Joseph’s “uncommon” kids. For three weeks during the summer, local youth gather at the emPowerU campus for the Mosaic Life Care Foundation STEAM Camps and programs. The classes are also offered at Think Ahead Works in nearby King City, extending the reach of hands-on STEAM learning to youth across the region.
Why? Because summer in St. Joseph means another opportunity for our inventive city to take its STEAM education seriously. Initiatives like the STEAM camps represent another forward step in meeting the goals in the Imagine 2040 strategic plan. They also show the community, and the region, that we are a city who believes in the power of local students when they come together to innovate.
Director of Program Operations for Mosaic Life Care Foundation, Devran Brower, explains why coding is such a popular element of the camps. “Kids are exposed to so many incredible and new things during the STEAM sessions. They realize they can create what’s in their mind through coding, and this is incredibly powerful and exciting for them.”
Brower adds that modules offered at emPowerU and Think Ahead Works are right on par with regional and national goals toward STEAM education, with many new jobs and specialty areas predicted in the future. For example, in the coding drones class, students will experience the thrill of flight by programming Parrot drones using TYNKER visual coding. During the LEGO® EV3 Robotics Space Challenge, they will design and build LEGO® creations to carry out space exploration. This could mean making a design for loading the robotic lunar module for space travel, or one that will unload the bay area of a space craft – and then creating a robotic arm that extends to fix any damage.
Other modules allow creativity and physics to come together to design a powered machine to solve problems. And of course, some students choose game design and game coding (who wouldn’t want to build their own animated heroes and villains?)
Camp Invention extends the energy and learning even further, with a one-week experience guided and developed by the National Inventors Hall of Fame. This is a STEM summer camp that “turns curious kids into innovative thinkers,” More than 1,000 camp programs are delivered each summer across the nation in schools, community centers and other local facilities, with one of these locations being emPowerU in St. Joseph.
Other STEAM programs are led by local subject matter experts. All are enjoyed by students, year after year. “It’s amazing to watch kids grow up as they come here year after year, then their younger siblings. It’s really great to see all this innovation and excitement across the age groups,” says Brower.
What do the kids say? “I had tons of fun at this camp it is really cool to learn about robotics,” and “I learned so much about coding at this camp,” are common testimonials from participants.
Some want to keep developing their curious minds all year long. During the Mosaic Life Care Foundation’s STEAM After-School program, the goal is to further develop an interest in science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics through hands-on activities led by trained facilitators. Activities can include coding drones and video games, or building machines and robots.
“The students and the leadership have a lot of fun across our STEAM programming,” says Brower. “But alongside that, we know we are meeting a bigger priority – helping them be prepared for workforce development.”
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