Area elementary-school-aged students studied up on a variety of subjects at the Georgia Institute of Technology STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) Camp last week at Liberty Elementary School.
From July 14-18, 26 students from various schools in the area attended “Camp Rock,” which featured hands-on activities, such as making edible rocks, creating volcanoes that erupt and understanding the quickness of quicksand.
The students also learned what goes into making apps and, with help from the Georgia Tech team, built their own iPad apps.
On Friday, the last day of the camp, the students showed off their projects to their parents during a showcase.
Chatham County schools previously have hosted STEAM Camps, but this was Liberty’s first time hosting the learning experience. To facilitate it, Liberty Elementary School’s science department contacted Georgia Tech program director Carolyn Perry.
“Georgia Tech’s Dr. Perry is in charge of outreach, and we contacted her about possibly doing a camp this year since Liberty County didn’t have money in the budget for summer school for the first time,” Liberty Elementary Science Club leader Ashley Striplin said. “We really wanted to keep kids learning throughout the summer, and Dr. Perry was very willing and really excited to expand and bring it down to Liberty County.”
For a couple years now, Perry and other Georgia Tech staffers and students have been reaching out to all grade levels, but specifically focus on elementary-school students. Perry said she has found that when children are introduced early on to math and science, it benefits them down the road in middle and high school.
The program director said that when students are exposed to fun ways of learning math and science, they perform better and are more likely to be interested in studying such subjects at the collegiate level.
“We don’t think kids can raise their hand for ninth-, 10th-, 11th- and 12th-grade calculus if they didn’t have enriching, wonderful experiences with science and mathematics when they were in K through five,” Perry said.
In addition to its plan to continue the camp next year, Liberty Elementary wants to extend it to two or three weeks, which would also allow more students to participate.
With more jobs being created in science- and math-related fields, programs like these are important to obtain the interest of the community’s children, according to Perry.
“This is the future. This is where the jobs are, and this is what we need children to be able to do, which is think creatively and at high levels,” she said.