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R-MC Hosts STEM Summer Camp

Jul 03, 2018


stem camp students and instructorWater Balloon Drop, Rocket Cars, Slime, Tug-O-War, and Camouflaged Butterflies: These are just a few of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) challenges that campers in grades 5-9 experienced during the first STEM summer camp at Randolph-Macon College. The camp, which was held in conjunction with R-MC's Noyce Teacher-Scholar Program, took place in June 2018.

The Noyce Teacher-Scholar Program
The Noyce Teacher-Scholar Program recruits and trains undergraduate students interested in STEM-related fields. At Randolph-Macon College, the program includes secondary teacher preparation in one of three sciences: biology, chemistry and physics. At present, 10 R-MC students are participants in the Noyce Teacher-Scholar Program.

"The STEM summer camp provided an opportunity for six of our Noyce Teacher-Scholars to design and deliver STEM challenges to elementary and middle-school students as teachers, facilitators and reflective practitioners," explains Education Professor Diana Yesbeck, director of the camp. "Campers from three school divisions (Henrico, Hanover and King William) engaged in STEM design challenges during the weeklong camp. Empowering campers to communicate, collaborate, problem-solve, and design was the focus of the many activities that participants engaged in."

R-MC Students as Mentors
Two K-12 science educators for Henrico County Schools, Jordan Wootton '12 and Donna Kouri, mentored the six Noyce Teacher-Scholars, who in turn facilitated a wide variety of STEM activities for campers to strengthen their scientific and engineering processes in areas related to biology, chemistry and physics. The Noyce Teacher-Scholars found that campers weren't the only ones who benefited from the STEM camp experience.

Anshu Sharma '21 (physics and Latin major; education, mathematics and computer science minor) says, "The experience forced me to think more deeply about concepts in physics I thought I understood well; about how I could explain them clearly without sacrificing accuracy; and about how I can relate to and connect with students."

Megan Dillon '20 (biology major; education minor) learned the importance of starting STEM education early when she recently completed a research paper for an English class.

"I think getting younger students involved with STEM really helps to foster a love for those subjects that lasts," she says. "I'm happy to have been able to play a role in getting campers to discover a love for STEM."

Connor Peak '21 (chemistry major; education minor) says, "The STEM camp allowed me to gain practical knowledge toward my goal of being a science educator at the secondary level. I enjoyed interacting with students and challenging them to think creatively. The campers were excited to come back each day, and they formed strong connections with each other. I hope that this camp will be held again so that future educators can help engage students in STEM."

A Fun, Creative Experience
On the final day of the camp, one of the participants commented, "I love everything here at STEM camp, and I would definitely come back." Another camper said, "This camp was super fun and creative. They have no limits to what you design."  One camper summarized the experience well by stating, "I loved this camp. It was interesting, and a good place to start or build an interest in STEM."  Many of the campers' parents asked to remain on a mailing list for next year's STEM summer camp.

"The camp was successful in meeting the objectives of providing a fun, interesting, and educational experience for many—campers, scholars and educators," says Yesbeck, who also serves as chair of the Education Department.

The R-MC Education Department
With a strong tradition of preparing outstanding teachers, R-MC's education minor is a Virginia Department of Education approved educator preparation program and is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). The teacher preparation program at R-MC creates reflective, passionate educators who are highly qualified in their content areas and in 21st-century teaching skills. Inspired by R-MC's own dedicated teaching faculty, our graduates bring to their own classrooms a commitment to children, youth, families and diversity.

Beginning with the first course in R-MC's teacher preparation program, students are in the community, working with real students and teachers in local school classrooms. R-MC education courses fully integrate classroom and experiential learning, opportunities for collaborative research, civic and global engagement, personalized guidance, and leadership development.