SALAMANCA – To support student success in science, technology, engineering, arts and math and help delay the summer slide between June and September, the central school district of the city of Salamanca held its fourth annual STEAM-Adventure camps in August .
The program was established in 2017. “We have made a conscious decision to support summer programs that significantly enrich our student community,” said Robert Breidenstein, District Superintendent.
About 55 students signed up for the program, according to coordinator Aaron Straus, and were supported by teachers, student interns and program partners from across the region.
“This year, we’ve offered virtual and in-person camps and looked to expand our partnerships so that students can enroll in a wider range of courses, depending on their interests and needs,” Straus said. . “We’ve partnered up with the Boundless Connections Tech Center in Olean to facilitate fun and exploratory activities with students. Meanwhile, we transported students from Salamanca to Springville for the SUNY Fredonia Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP) survey week.
During the survey week, the students worked with Dr Jabot, professor at SUNY Fredonia, on a NASA program dealing with landmass space, pixels, cloud cover and temperatures. They explored the basics of electricity, including current and short circuits. Students also learned to code using Raspberry Pi and Lego Mindstorm units.
“It was such a wonderful experience,” said Jennifer Hawkins, parent from Salamanca. “All I heard from my daughter was STEAM camp this and STEAM camp that. My kids can’t wait to attend next year.
THROUGHOUT THE virtual summer camps, Salamanca staff sent consumable kits straight to camper homes filled with exciting materials such as robots, music kits, and physical and logical manipulatives, which were new additions this year .
Seneca’s sixth grade teacher Bridgette Phillips-Moore has hosted three one-on-one virtual camps this year, including a Rubik’s Cube-based program.
“We have partnered with an organization called You CAN Do the Rubik’s Cube to deliver our logic and collaboration curriculum to students,” she said. During this hybrid camp, campers explored logic and teamwork through engaging and interactive challenges.
Students had the option to enroll in Camp Invention, a virtual summer study program offered annually by the National Inventors Hall of Fame, headquartered in Canton, Ohio. Campers at this (virtual) camp built devices to throw rubber ducks at various challenges through hands-on experiences with trajectory and speed.
The imagination quickened when the kids created a car capable of traveling on land and with prototype elements for moving through air and water. Students had to take care of their own solar-powered robotic cricket, create protective gear, custom habitats, and fun cricket playgrounds.
Participants amplified their creative voices by reverse-engineering a wireless microphone, then developed and promoted their extraordinary invention.
“I enjoyed the reverse engineering of my microphone and learning physics [rubber] Duck Chuck was adorable, ”said one college student.
In other programs, the district offered snorkeling, kayaking, and outdoor and in-person hiking camps in July and August.
“River kayaking and eco hikes have been a cornerstone of our STEAM adventure camp since its inception,” said Gene Jankowski, science teacher, a camp leader. “As in previous years, we made it easier to train staff on kayak safety for camp. After the refresher training, the students joined the teachers on the river for a wet outdoor adventure camp.
Salamanca GIS and Earth Sciences teacher Dr Graham Hayes also took students on outdoor ecological tours through Moss Lake hiking trails and Panama Rock structures.
“The rock formations that we see at Panama Rocks are a unique outcrop of conglomerate sedimentary rock that stretches for about half a mile and reaches over 60 feet high,” said Hayes. “Grotesque roots meander along the boulders, and delicate ferns, mosses and lichens add to Panama Rock’s unique, jungle-like charm.”
UNHAPPY, BECAUSE After two weeks of heavy rains in July, the district had to postpone the snorkeling and ecology camp it was organizing in partnership with the CA-BOCES Environmental Education CoSer.
“BOCES contacted us on Friday and said the lake level had swelled with debris and dirty water, making the site unsafe and even unsafe for students,” Straus said. “We had over thirty children enrolled, with a lot of exciting feedback from parents, so calling to postpone the experience until fall or next summer was very difficult.”
Students in Salamanca also spent the summer using Fusion 360 – computer-aided design software – to design and build a functioning robotic arm.
“At the start of this summer school, we broke down objects into 3D shapes,” said freshman Roman Salder. “We explored the 3D printing process, Fusion 360, by setting up models for manufacturing, using an app called Cura, and then printing them on the school’s 3D printers. “
Afterward, the students looked at common printing issues and mechanically repaired the printer when the software fix did not work.
“To crown the STEAM Camp experience, students combined 3D printing, coding, and electronic theory to design and build a functional 3D printed robotic arm,” said Cole Johnson, 2021 graduate, who was also teacher for the STEAM Camp program.
“We are very fortunate to be working with a forward thinking central administration here that strongly supports science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics,” Straus said. “I especially want to thank all of our parents and teachers for the flexibility and grace they gave us as we planned this, right after the pandemic and during the unprecedented summer school councils.”
Salamanca STEAM-Adventure Camps is expected to return next summer. Until then, students can look forward to the Fredonia STEP program, drone and robotics courses, and hands-on science and engineering research trips scheduled throughout the school year.