STEM CAMP at Beth Shalom AME Zion Church
STEM welcomes, nourishes, cradles, initiates, expands, announces, embraces...
“Our kids were S-T-E-M-u-l-a-t-e-d!” That’s what one of the parents said about the STEM camp held at Beth Shalom AME Zion Church of Clinton, Maryland, where Rev. Dr. Darrell J. Gaskin is Pastor.
The camp opened with approximately 50 students immediately following the close of regular school year under the direction of the Associate pastor, Rev. Dr. William L. Ward and STEM Coordinator, Alma S. Miller. “We did not let a minute of summer break go to waste,” said Miller.
This year’s camp offered outstanding, creative, innovative and exploratory activities involving Body Works, Origami Puzzles, Butterfly Garden Art, Musical Technology and much, much more.
Last year, the church held a one-day STEM event but by popular demand, they expanded it to a week long day camp for students in Pre K to 5th grade.
“We wanted to integrate the STEM disciplines through authentic hands-on projects and real world applications,” said Ward. “We needed more time to accomplish that”, he continued.
Camp projects and activities centered on this year’s theme:
Exploring and distinguishing the butterflies.
Campers used favorite children’s biblical stories and science trade books to establish the basis for certain investigation including, the outstanding Science Trade Book, Mrs. Carter’s Butterfly Garden, by Presidential Awardee Steve Rich.
The campers studied various butterfly species, their life cycle and migration patterns. In addition, they learned to identify which plants attracted butterflies and by the end of the week, students designed and built a butterfly garden with flowers and shrubs in the front of the church.
Each grade level had a part in planting the Butterfly Gardens.
They also explored the works of Harriet Tubman and integrated her work with the Underground Railroad with code block quilt making. They demonstrated their origami skills by creating folding paper to make quilt designs that told an original story related to fiction or personal experiences. Other activities involved investigating the capabilities of Toys That Teach such as Whirlybirds, Slinkys, Keva Plank structures and Makey, Makey musical invention kits.
The campers also experienced STEM throughout Washington, DC with special field trips. Students spent the day at Howard University where they engaged in investigations through the Body Works segment. Students examined deceased human bones and explored DNA samples from strawberries.
Campers got up close and personal with live butterfly specimens at the “Butterfly Pavilion “during a trip to the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History.
At the Air and Space Museum, they explored space projects and conducted investigations with technical instruments. Jeremiah Campbell, one of the campers, said “I love this museum because you can build things.”
Parents were not left out of this amazing week of STEM. The
STEM@Home component provided all families information on health and nutrition facts as well as information on National STEM student competitions. Such materials support the extended program and allowed for students and parents to enhance their STEM learning at home. Campers also received Take-A-Way STEM kits to continue their camp learning experience.
STEM students representing the Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr. High School of Upper Marlboro, Maryland served as STEM Camp Intern Counselors. Their sharing along with the support of other volunteers, both student and educational leaders and administrators from PGCPS (Prince George’s County Public Schools) and DCPS (District of Columbia Public Schools) brought an exciting dimension to the camp experience.
Guest volunteer facilitators included: Dr. Helen Scott-Carter, Founder of Varick’s Children, The Children’s Division of the Christian Education Department of the AME Zion Church, who assisted with morning devotional activities as well as STEM instructional activities; and Mrs. Sheila Campbell of Ebenezer AME Church and avid member of the Women’s Missionary Society of AME Church who also provided instructional support as well as dramatic reenactment of story sequences.
This year’s camp program received the support of Howard University, the National Science Teachers Association, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Food and Drug Administration, and several of the Smithsonian Institute Museums. Each of these organizations provided outstanding activities that connected to our onsite program.
The overall experience was informative, engaging and exciting. Based upon evaluations from numerous parents and campers, participants indicated that the camp was a fun productive experience that provided for them new and memorable concepts and skills. The aim was to impact the campers in a special way; and if enthusiasm may be used as an indicator, the camp certainly exceeded expectations. Comments from parents and campers included: “Awesome;” and “Extend the time frame from one week to two weeks!”
The Beth Shalom AME Zion Church STEM Camp Committee includes the following individuals: Barbara Campbell, Patricia Cooper, Monica Creacy-Jackson, Alma S. Miller, Ezell Richardson, Mary Richardson, Dr. Leon Scipio, Andrea Williams, Rev. Dr. Darrell J. Gaskin, Pastor and Rev. Dr. William L . Ward, Associate Minister. Each has worked tirelessly to support our church’s mission: We worship the Lord, reach out to the community, teach the believer, care for the needy and encourage each other in the Lord. Through this STEM camp experience, it has been our desire to uphold our mission by promoting a culture of learning in the community of Clinton, Maryland.
Look forward to the 2017 McSand STEM Camp to be held at Beth Shalom AME Zion Church.