During the week of March 6, Colton Elementary School’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA) offered an afterschool STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) camp.
The camp, held in the elementary school, was originally offered with Monday for K-1 students, Tuesday for grades 2-3 and Wednesday for grades 4-5, but with the snow day, the older kids had to wait until Thursday to participate. The PTA had 75 students pre-register to participate in the educational and fun activities, but with registration left open each day, that number figures to climb.
“We decided to host a STEM camp to offer an after-school activity to students who may not be involved in sports, or who already have a love for science-related activities,” said Tessa Thomas, Colton Elementary School PTA president.
Thomas said the PTA was in charge of the camp with big assists from CES librarian and PTA member Cheryl Wagner, along with parent and staff volunteers, Alisha Aiken, Kati Bodle, Melanie Hock, Chase Lockhart, Sarah Morasci and Elisa Smith.
PTA members chose the activities for the camp at their February meeting. The age-related activities included Lego engineering with suggestion building cards, science experiments, that included making elephant toothpaste with the younger group and a “how many rubber bands does it take to exert enough pressure to get a watermelon to explode” for the older students. There was also a chance to learn about coding and robots.
“Mrs. Wagner and the district shared robots and coding with the camp,” Thomas said. “Kindergarten and first grade learned some beginning block coding and programming concepts using a game called Kodable; second and third grade sat around a circle and played “I Spy” by programming Sphero robots to roll and touch items placed inside the circle. They had to aim their robot and tell it to turn a certain number of degrees at a specific speed for a specific amount of seconds. The fourth and fifth graders programmed Sphero robots to roll through a pretend town’s streets that were mapped out on the floor.”
A student who was part of the second-third grade camp and was at the “how many rubber bands are needed to explode a watermelon” experiment, could be heard discussing what was happening as the students, wearing safety glasses, took turns putting rubber bands around a watermelon. “The rubber bands put pressure on the watermelon until it explodes. I wonder what the pressure release from the watermelon will be,” he said.
The Lego engineering pod had different tables with different building themes and a tote of Legos ready for the project. During one building time, Vanessa Lockhart, whose table card instruction was to produce an ocean theme build, put together a Lego beach complete with sand dunes, tide pools, rocks, seaweed and a bridge that led to the shoreline.
When Ellie Thomas, Tessa Thomas’s daughter, was asked what the best part of the camp was, she said she had fun with all of it, but she really liked when the watermelon exploded and her mother was covered in watermelon guts. She said she is really looking forward to another STEM camp.