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Blasting off into STEM

"Stem Summer Camp" held a rocket launch on June 28 at East Ridge High School. 2 / 2

When students typically think of rockets, catapults and even parachutes its usually associated with a video game or movie.

But for a group of District 833 students, those three inventions proved to be their own creations.

District 833 Community Education held its annual “STEM Summer Camp” all last week, June 24-28, at East Ridge High School.

“STEM Summer Camp” is now in its fourth year.

“STEM” stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

During the camp, students worked on a variety of projects including building catapults, building the tallest tower, building bridges, building shelters, fashioning a parachute type device to assist in an egg drop and building rockets, which are then launches.

“We’re kind of an engineering camp,” said camp adviser, and Oltman Middle School science teacher, Jamie Kirchner. “We give them limited resources and they have to construct something every day.”

“Its amazing to see what the kids come up with,” said camp adviser, and Oltman Middle School math teacher, Stacy Hinz.

Both Hinz and Kirchner said it is important to expose students to STEM curriculum because not only is it a growing career, it’s often lacking in the schools.

“The world is becoming STEM and a technology world,” Kirchner said.

Hinz and fellow adviser David Donnelly, a STEM teacher at Woodbury Middle School, said students really enjoy STEM curriculum, and the camp, because there is a lot of focus on hand-on activities.

“It’s the hands on verses the memorization,” Donnelly said. “Everything is creative on their part.

“Students aren’t sitting and learning from us, they’re doing it themselves.”

Donnelly said another benefit of STEM is that students can go back and fix whatever problems they encountered.

“We test things out and then they can go back and do it again,” he said. “It’s not like when you fail a test and you’re done.”

Hinz said STEM, and specifically the camp, is a great benefit to students because it helps them think differently.

“It pushes them to break out of the mold,” she said. “It lets them go outside the box and do things on their own..”

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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