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K-State Today

August 14, 2023

K-State College of Education STEM, STEAM camps engage hundreds of middle schoolers

Submitted by Patrice Scott

More than 600 middle schoolers participated in STEAM — science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics — activities as part of two camps hosted by Kansas State University's College of Education this summer.

The Summer STEM Institute, a collaboration between Manhattan-Ogden USD 383 and the College of Education, was based in Bluemont Hall, and classes were held across the Manhattan campus and in the community. For the third summer, organizers simultaneously ran the Virtual Summer STEAM Academy through the college's Rural Education Center.

In its 13th year, the Summer STEM Institute covered 25 topics through on-campus classes designed to foster engaging, hands-on learning for approximately 250 participating middle schoolers. The classes included Digital Designs with Canva Creativity, History Hunter, Board Game Madness: Probability is Everywhere!, Drones and Coding of Spheros, CSI, Music Exploration in a Digital World, Vet Med and Explore Manhattan.

"For those of us who taught in elementary and middle school, June has become one of our favorite months because Bluemont Hall swells with the energy, enthusiasm, sounds and laughter we were once treated to daily," said Debbie Mercer, dean of the College of Education.

A highlight of this summer's camp was the inaugural presentation of the Roger and Liz Rea STEAM Speaker Series at the annual Summer STEM Institute showcase, held in the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering. The speaker series was created by Roger and Liz Rea, Omaha, Nebraska, in support of STEAM projects. Both are retired educators, and Roger Rea is a K-State alum. The speaker series, designed to encourage students to consider STEAM-related career possibilities, kicked off the annual showcase, which highlighted students' projects from the STEM Institute.

Cindy Wallis-Lage, a K-State engineering graduate recognized for championing engineering approaches to sustainable development goals, spoke to approximately 150 middle schoolers and their families, teachers, future teachers, education leaders and K-State faculty as the inaugural speaker.

Paula Hough, former executive director of teaching and learning for USD 383, and Lori Goodson, assistant professor and assistant director of the College of Education's Rural Education Center, coordinated the on-campus camp. K-State pre-service teachers assist the institute as part of their Core Teaching Skills class, co-taught by Goodson and Kaylee Myers, instructor.

The Virtual Summer STEAM Academy engaged approximately 360 middle schoolers from eight school districts in Kansas, including Axtell, Belle Plaine, Clay County, Fowler Grade School, Inman, Medicine Lodge, Sabetha Middle School and Wallace County; and Mill Creek Upper in Missouri. Seven individuals participated, and eight international sites in Ecuador and Ghana also joined the camp.

Classrooms registered for a hybrid version of the academy, in which content was taught by academy teachers — veteran teachers from around the state — with assistance from onsite educators.

This summer's topics included Celebrating the Art in Language Arts, Debate: The Art of Argument, Inspired by Art, Math Behind Games— Probability is Everywhere!, M.U.S.I.C., — Music Using STEM is Cool, Planet Podcast, Powers Unite: Superhero and Supervillain STEAM, Stop Motion Animation Fun, A Voice Worth Hearing—Yours!, and The Comic Book Club.

Goodson coordinates the virtual camp, and Calista Speake, a veteran educator, serves as camp principal.

If you have questions about any of these programs, contact Lori Goodson, lagoodson@k-state.edu.