Have a child who is interested in science, technology, engineering and math – and want to expose them to hands-on learning this summer? Oakland Schools is offering its STEM-based summer program for a second year. The week-long camps are open to sixth, seventh and eighth graders who reside or attend a school in Oakland County.
Tamela Brown-Williams, supervisor for Career Focused Education for Oakland Schools, says the camps are run out of the four career and technical campuses in each of the quadrants of Oakland County: Pontiac, Clarkston, Royal Oak and Wixom.
“We developed the program at the request of our area superintendents,” Brown-Williams says. “We wanted to find a way to expose middle school youth to careers readiness activities and give them rich STEM experiences in career and technical education.”
Most middle schools don’t have career and technical education classes, she says, and by the time the students get to high school, with the Michigan Merit Curriculum requirements, there isn’t a lot of time for students to explore options in career and technical education.
“Students have to make decisions quickly and select a pathway in order to graduate on time,” Brown-Williams says. “STEM is a large component in career and technical education so we wanted to design the camps in a way that it gives students experiences in science and math-based careers.”
The middle school campers participate in several career activities in engineering, health science, culinary arts, information technology, robotics and visual imaging. They also have the opportunity to travel to Oakland University to tour the School of Engineering and Computer Science.
“Any student would enjoy the camp. There is STEM in just about every career of our programming. We have activities in culinary arts and visual imaging, which you don’t often think of as STEM-based, but there are plenty of math and technology components,” Brown-Williams says. “Our students are pleasantly surprised by the diversity of the programming for the camp.”
This year, the camp runs June 25-29 for incoming sixth-graders; July 9-13 for incoming seventh-graders and July 16-20 for incoming eighth-graders. The camps are held from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. For working parents, Oakland Schools has partnered with the YMCA to provide staffing for after-camp care from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Brown-Williams says camp administration wanted to make sure the camp was accessible to all students by keeping the camp registration fee low and also having scholarship opportunities available for each district.
Registration for the STEM camp is underway and Oakland Schools is already seeing double the number of participants from last year and they anticipate it will sell out.
“One of our primary goals is for the students to have fun. Although there are specific projects in each area, the program is very learner-based so the student can have an enjoyable and educational experience,” Brown-Williams says.