Westfield’s STEM Camp Attracts Future Scientists & Engineers

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McKinley students Emma Stellingwerf and Douglas Gee get their individually programmed robotic cars ready for action at Westfield Public School District’s summer STEM camp Credits: Westfield Public Schools
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Fifth graders Catherine Ritter (Franklin), Alex Linsen (Jefferson) and Emma Darrow (Wilson) together work as Crime Science Investigators. Credits: Westfield Public Schools
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Incoming Edison Intermediate School 7th grader Sarah Klemm and Kayleigh Quinn (7th grade Roosevelt) proudly display their fish created in the Animatronics class. Credits: Westfield Public Schools
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The Westfield Public School District is hosting its fifth annual STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Camp from July 10 - 28 for the students of Westfield. More than 380 girls and boys entering grades 3-8 are participating. 

According to Paul Pineiro, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction and Program in the Westfield Public Schools, “Our three weekly sessions accommodate the growing interest in the program by both boys and girls. Taught by our Westfield school teachers, campers participate in one week of STEM-based activities and investigations experiencing high-quality learning using state-of-the-art equipment and software.”

Campers choose four engaging workshops consisting of hands-on, real-world STEM activities that encourage them to think about themselves as future scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and computer specialists.  

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Due to the ongoing interest from the community to involve their children in STEM, the camp continually introduces new themed workshops. With a workshop for every interest, offerings include Animatronics & Robotics, LEGO Stop Motion Animation, Forensics, CAD & 3D Printing, Transportation Engineering, Food Science, Natural Disaster Survival, Stop Motion Animation, Instrumental Engineering, Scratch Programming, and Videography & Special Effects.

Three of the newest workshops added to the list this summer are Programming with Python, Film Composing, and Wearable Technology. Laura Paiva, Programming with Python instructor, noted, “By offering a programming workshop, kids are not just using technology, but learning to create it as well. Coding helps develop problem solving and computational skills, while providing them with a new way to use their imagination and express themselves.”

Ken Horn, the Film Composing instructor, has a similar, yet different outlook on how his workshop fits within STEM education. “Film composing utilizes the engineering process of combining technology with the science of acoustics.  At the same time, coupled with the creative process innate to the arts, STEM campers design and create an original score, work with short videos, technology and editing software to create an appropriate musical score that enhances the drama unfolding on the screen. They also learn how to incorporate the musical elements of pitch, dynamics, tempo, rhythm and instrumentation.” As part of the engineering component of the workshop, campers were provided with small electronic midi piano keyboards interfaced with Magix Music Maker and Magix Movie Edit Pro software to create and edit their original film scores.

Animatronics teacher, Dan Black, introduced the students to the combined art and engineering design by familiarizing them with the history of animatronics including its more current use in memorable movies such as Jaws and Jurassic Park.  In the Westfield STEM studio, Mr. Black’s intermediate school students learned how to cut polystyrene foam into designs of their choice and motorize them robotically with moving parts.

“Every year it is awesome to see how creative, engaged, interested, and capable these campers are,” stated Sean Bonasera, STEM Camp Coordinator. 

“Getting children exposed to STEM activities at a young age promotes a growth mindset where students feel successful and, at their own pace, learn and build knowledge through meaningful experiences, encouragement, and hands-on learning while still having fun. Here at STEM Camp there is no right or wrong answer. Only the process of problem solving and inquisitive thought matter.”

The success of the program is evident by the interest and excitement shown by the students.  According to incoming Roosevelt Intermediate School 7th grader, Alexandra Cicala, “It’s a lot of fun; I love STEM.  I’ve been going since third grade.”

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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