Gaining STEAM: Annual camp expands to two weeks

A student watches a drone in flight during last week’s STEAM camp at Northside Elementary. The camp, which is run by Johnson City Schools, has grown and evolved over the past four years. PHOTOS BY COLLIN BROOKS
A pair of campers work on a wiring project during last week’s STEAM camp session.
Fiona Ongie (right) and Olive Hinkle make a raisin dance during a science experiment.
A student works to extract the dye out of an M&M during a science experiment at the Johnson City Schools STEAM Camp last week at North Side Elementary.
A camper flies a drone at STEAM Camp, which was expanded to two weeks this year to give more Johnson City kids an opportunity to participate.

By Dave Ongie, News Editor

For the past four years, North Side Elementary School principal Dr. Sharron Pickering has been thrilled to see the growth of the STEAM camp her school hosts each summer.

This year the weeklong camp that is offered free of charge to elementary-aged students in Johnson City Schools expanded to two weeks in order to meet the high demand.

“It really started the first year with more students than we could register,” Pickering said. “So for the past three years, we have actually had 100 kids on the waiting list. This year, we’ve gone to two weeks, and we’ve been able to enroll everybody and not have a waiting list.”

By holding a pair of one-week sessions this year, the camp doubled in size. One group of students attended during the week of June 3, and a second wave came through during the week of June 10. They were greeted by a team of enthusiastic educators who each planned a week’s worth of fun activities that integrated science, technology, engineering, art and math.

“The teachers really make it happen,” Pickering said. “They are the ones who really bring that energy, that enthusiasm and the creativity of their activities. (The students) work with three teachers on a rotation basis each day, and those teachers build on each activity to create this great week of learning.”

This year’s STEAM camp gave students the opportunity to fly drones, learn computer coding, do some science experiments and much more. As Pickering watched the students hustle toward the front doors of North Side during summer vacation to engage in active learning, she couldn’t help but smile.

“Just seeing this excitement every day just makes me want to do it all the time,” Pickering said.


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