Previously I had talked about students taking advantage of internships offered in the summer, but most important to touch on are summer camps offered that may peak interest for young STEM students to get more comfortable with certain topics or field concentrations. Not all summer camps are sing-alongs around the camp fire or sports focused, but there are many camps that offer a chance for students to expand their knowledge and ways of thinking in new ways. Closely related to trying to get students to eat their vegetables, camps are a secret method in getting kids to try new things. STEM camps are a terrific way to sneak science and math into becoming a kid’s favorite activity or subject. Without a slight push towards an unfamiliar path, many destinations are not found.

Why attend a STEM summer program you may ask? It is a wonderful way to have those in STEM profession teach skills fostering valuable skills in the 21st century life. Because computer science is one of the most rapidly growing focuses in the STEM field, what better way to get ahead of competitors. For those on the end of deciding whether this field is for them, summer camp is a fun way to find out! Instead of learning in a traditional classroom, activities are very hands on and most importantly, innovative. There are no wrong answers, only new lessons. Because students develop a fear of receiving a bad grade on assignments, many times there closed thinking rather that sets limitations. Summer camps are to help students use creative thinking and ultimately testing out innovative ideas through trial and error. Camps provide encouragement and guidance to push out of the box thinking as a norm.

If you, the student or parent feel uncomfortable traveling around to other states across the country, there are countless offered closer than it may appear. Because I’m a current resident of West Virginia, I will be touching more on summer camps offered around the state and why it is important to attend either an overnight or day-camp. Located in Morgantown, West Virginia, are a variety of summer camps focusing on engineering. To kick of the summer, West Virginia University has a camp veered towards aspiring female engineers. Though these prices are on the upper end of $700, there are financial aid options that can help decrease these costs tremendously. This six-day, five-night camp features critical thinking discussions, mine stimulation labs, bridge inspections followed by rope climbing. Not only does this camp offer engaging lessons enhancing knowledge on engineering field options but blossoms critical thinking within a group setting. As a special treat, students are challenged with an “escape room”, also known as a “puzzle room”. In short, it is a hands-on adventure game where a group must solve riddles using clues and strategically plan to complete the task within a set time frame. This requires to students to interact with one another efficiently and effectively.

In a unique manner, West Virginia University also offered engineering camps focused on coding and healthcare. Students are challenged to solve a mock cyber attack and learn defense mechanisms. To add on, there are opportunities to build your own bot and challenge each other to a battle for those feeling competitive. Not a Mountaineer fan, no problem join the Thundering Herd! Located in Huntington, West Virginia, Marshall is offering a unique engaging community project to challenge young brains. Previously, the Marshall College of Science has spearheaded new projects around the community and campus fully preformed by students with assistance from Marshall University’s knowledgeable professors and at hand students. Students in previous years were able to work on enhancing the Greenbrier resort and the West Virginia State Capital complex. This year just miles from the campus, the camp will be focusing on Camden Park, Minecraft addition. Attending students, specially Minecraft fanatics, have the chance to build rides and games for the historic land mark!

Also located at the Marshall University campus is the iDesign Architecture Camp! This is perfect for students wanting their design dream house, town, or the next hot product! At this camp students are taught how to scale, draw, and get an overview of architecture, building, and designing. If you’re looking for a camp with multiple hands-on design project, this summer camp is a must! Not only do you become more comfortable with growing technology, but the campus itself! This is a great opportunity to get to know a campus and the College of Science professors. And even better, sets up a interpersonal relationship between the students, the college and professors. Being more familiar with Marshall University faculty and staff, I found knowing a professor made my transition from home to college easier. Instead of being swarmed with unanswered questions, I was able to find upperclassman who had helped with events, and get all questions answered, which then led me to being more active on campus and then taking leadership roles myself all in my freshman year!

By taking the additional steps to expand on lessons learned in school, is setting up for future success. We must think for the future and how to stand apart from everyone because competition is likely to increase. Because teachers and educators are only technically responsibly for teaching students an array of information set by common core, parent and guardians should be pushing their kids to strive and crave additional information. Now we all know in the real world, money doesn’t grow on trees and cost is a big crutch for attending camps. But, don’t let this stop you from finding opportunities to stretch a creative mind, going outside and building structures out of sticks and rocks is still better than sitting on the couch.


-Stephanie Rogner