STEM rules at Summer Thunder

elody Bishop and Joanna Chee work on a circuit board during Summer Thunder, a Higley Unified School District Title I camp program. During the four-week program, students receive academic support in math and reading. Lessons are integrated into a science, technology, engineering and math lab. (Courtesy of Higley Unified School District).

Jet packs, robots and glasses that help police locate criminals are just a few of the ideas emerging from students attending Higley Unified School District’s Summer Thunder camp, according to a press release.
This year marks the second time the summer Title I program designers used curriculum from Camp Invention to integrate reading and math skills with science, technology and engineering concepts. Title I provides financial assistance to local educational agencies and schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic standards, according to the U.S. Department of Education website, http://www.ed.gov/
It means students are using their creative skills while trying out new vocabulary words such as “prototype” and “empathy.”
“It’s intended for students who could benefit from academic support in reading and math,’ said Theodora Schiro, the program’s director.
The students said the program is fun – and the 200 taking part this summer don’t want to miss a moment. From the circuit systems to the rocket building to the books on invention, students are engaged in the classrooms.
Blake Strouss described his invention to his teacher, Tracy Carlucci, while drawing it out on paper. He will later build a model using recycled materials such as water bottles, shoe boxes and paper towel rolls. His idea is for a “JetPack 2.0.”
“It carries your luggage. I made an improvement to it because it had four arms. But I made it to expand and have more arms,” he said.
“That’s genius,” Ms. Carlucci said. “I like it.”
Students rotate between classes during the four-week program, each receiving education in the STEM lab, reading and math.
“All the classes are integrated with what’s going on in the STEM lab,” Schiro said. “Not only is it fun and educational for the kids, but it’s professional development for the teachers. I hope they go back and take what they’ve learned into their regular classrooms and implement it there.”

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