Industry Market Trends
STEM Summer Camps for Students -- and How Industry Professionals Can Participate
May 13, 2013
Last month, President Barack Obama hosted 100 student innovators from more than 40 states for the third annual White House Science Fair, celebrating student achievements in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. This year's group of youths included app coders, algae growers, video game designers, city planners, roboticists, and rocket scientists. After touring their exhibits, Obama congratulated the students on their impressive accomplishments and announced a number of new steps to advance his administration's Educate to Innovate campaign to motivate more young people to excel in STEM subjects. Among the new initiatives was the launch of more than 1,000 summer learning events, planned as part of a summer-long campaign "to help young people embrace the maker spirit and learn career-building STEM skills." Engaging and inspiring young people to pursue opportunities in STEM fields early is widely considered by experts as an important step in meeting the nation's future innovation needs. What students learn outside the classroom can make just as large an impression as formal learning time. That is why the newly announced learning events, along with STEM-centric summer camps and similar programs for youths, provide opportunities for STEM inspiration. Directories created by the Engineering Education Service Center and FindEngineeringSchools.org provide information on STEM summer camps. "Hands-on science and engineering programs, competitions, and camps are wonderful introductions to STEM for students even as young as elementary grade," Melissa Carl, a manager of government relations for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, said in a recent Q&A with IMT Career Journal. "Getting early experience, like the hands-on robotics or science camps and competitions, can motivate young people, especially girls and underrepresented minorities, to know their strengths, take the math and science courses that will advance their goals, and realize how much engineering can offer them." In the past, summer camp meant either time in the wilderness or on a sports field. Today, there are educational camps with themes from space exploration and aviation to robotics and invention. Most STEM-centric camps share some common goals:
- Entice young people to think like scientists and engineers
- Provide a fun, creative, hands-on learning experience
- Teach youth to experiment and overcome obstacles
- Build self-esteem and confidence
- Ultimately inspire youth to pursue careers in STEM fields.
- Consider causes that are important to you, and look for a group or program that deals with issues you feel strongly about.
- Consider what expertise you can share with others, and look for a group or program in which your particular skills can be fully utilized.
- When you find a group or program that is in line with your interests and expertise, determine whether it offers training or professional development opportunities for its volunteers.