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Saturday, June 25, 2022

Activities & Organizations

Houston area students come together in STEM camps


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Students identify which substances are best to oil drill bits at a previous STEM camp at UH. | Courtesy of Lisa Merkl

A partnership between the Colleges of Education and Natural Science and Mathematics will host three science, technology, engineering and mathematics camps for middle-school students at UH this summer.

TeachHOUSTON will host the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp, the Bonnie J. Dunbar STEM Academy and the Cougar STEM Camp, which are responses to a growing need for middle-school STEM programs.

The ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp is held annually for 54 students from grades six to eight.

“I will get over 500 applications for the Harris camp, and I can only accept 54,” said Director of Student Teaching and teachHOUSTON faculty member Paige Evans. “This year, we finally decided to address the issue through the two other camps.”

Although both the Harris and Dunbar camps share similar curricula and requirements for teacher recommendations, aptitude and interest in STEM, the Dunbar camp will be able to fill 200 slots at a tuition rate of $350 to $450 a week depending on the extra activities chosen.

“Both are rigorous camps,” Evans said. “The Dunbar camp is non-residential and not funded by a grant, however. We are working on getting some scholarships (in the future).”

The Cougar STEM Camp simply requires an applicant’s interest in STEM and tuition of $699. Available in two four-week sessions, the Cougar STEM Camp’s website states that each week will have a theme centered on a different application of math and science, such as ‘movie magic.’

“The Cougar STEM Camp is going to be more focused on a long-term and interactive experience to get kids more interested in math and science,” COE and teachHOUSTON faculty member Tom Le said. “We’ll be doing more fun, summer-camp-like things (and) activities, like teaching kids how to code and activities from our themes, such as roller coaster physics.”

According to its website, teachHOUSTON’s goals entail not only ensuring K-12 students are inspired to pursue STEM, but training STEM undergrads for education in the sciences and higher mathematics. Therefore, the kids aren’t the only ones learning from the camps.

“There is a huge need for science and math teachers at the secondary level. … To address this need, NSM and COE got together, and basically what the students do is they get their major in NSM — math or science — and then they get their capstone, or minor, from teachHOUSTON,” Evans said.

“Many of our camp counselors are also teaching assistants, and the camps provide both experience and an opportunity to see if (University) students really like teaching and working with kids.”

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