SVVSD hosts summer STEM camps at the Innovation Center – Longmont Times-Call

A group of 9- to 12-year-olds got a taste of biology field work this week, donning waders and grabbing nets before walking into a shallow area of ​​Lefthand Creek to scoop up larvae, worms and other invertebrates.

Along with using cards to identify what they found, the 15 students tested the water using several sensors with help from Boulder’s LightDeck Diagnostics. They also collected water to use the next day to look for microorganisms with a microscope. Their field trip to Lefthand Creek was part of a four-day bioscience camp at St. Vrain Valley’s Innovation Center.

“This age group was when I found inspiration for the field of biology,” said Niwot High incoming junior Violet Oliver, who helped teach the class with Innovation Center Bioscience Pathway Coordinator Jayme Sneider. “Once you get exposure to these different areas, you start to think ‘this is so cool, this is what I want to do when I grow up.’ It’s a chance for them to figure out what their interests are. ”

The Innovation Center on Thursday wrapped up its second week of three weeks of hands-on SuperSTEM camps. The June camps are taught primarily by district teachers in partnership with high school students employed by the Innovation Center. Students, from elementary school through high school, attend for three hours a day over four days.

Along with the camps, the Innovation Center is offering high school summer classes for credit this month, giving students a hands-on introduction to the fields of aeronautics, augmented and virtual reality technologies, cybersecurity, and information technology.

Sophie Alizadeh, left, Willow Forsyth and Nathan McKell work on a biomedical project during one of the St. Vrain Valley School District STEM camps at the Innovation Center on Wednesday. (Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer)

And in July, the Innovation Center will team up with the University of Colorado Boulder and the Northrop Grumman Corporation to offer another week of STEM camps for 11- to 17-year-olds, covering topics that include cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.

Altogether, about 530 students are signed up to attend the Innovation Center’s camps and classes this summer.

“It’s been a blast,” said Eric Berngen, coordinator of the Innovation Center programs coordinator. “It’s just so good to see the kids back in the building, interacting with each other and immersed in the offerings.”

At this week’s bioscience experiments camp, students started by donning lab coats, eyewear and gloves to practice micropipetting skills. They also made agar art and cultivated bacteria. Another project was designing and building a cardboard prosthetic hand to complete a series of challenges.

“It’s really fun,” said Evie Mai O’Gorman, who will be a fifth-grader at Niwot Elementary. “There are so many creative activities, and I learned a lot of words I didn’t know existed.”

Classmate Clara Awsumb, also an incoming Niwot fifth-grader, said her favorite activity was making and testing a prosthetic hand.

“We got to do so many fun experiments,” she said.

A camp on drone videography also got students outside, where they practiced programming the drones to take autonomous flights over a field. At the end of the camp, each student will take home a portfolio of drone photos and videos.

Charlotte Moulton, an incoming eighth-grader at Sunset Middle, said she chose the camp because she wanted to learn to fly a real drone after trying with a toy drone that she “crashed a lot of times.”

“These drones have a lot of automatic things they can do,” she said. “It’s really cool. I’ve learned a lot. ”

In the “Circuits and Bots” camp, students added Legos to a small robot base for a “Sumo wrestling” style challenge of trying to knock each other’s cars off a mat. After going several rounds with an opponent, students modified their designs to improve their cars.

“You get to learn more about coding and how to use stuff to be creative,” Bradley Boehnke, an incoming Prairie Ridge fifth-grader, said as he demonstrated how the Lego arms he added to his car helped push out opponents. “I made my car indestructible.”

Pragya Manja, who will be in fourth grade at Flagstaff Academy, said she liked the programming she did during the camp, including game based Scratch programming.

“It’s definitely not boring,” she said.

Owen Willis, an incoming senior at Frederick High who helped teach the class, said he worked with an Innovation staff member to develop the activities and lesson plans, then taught himself how to use the technology that would be used in the class.

“The class gives them an opportunity to explore a bunch of different coding methods,” he said. “We’re trying to make sure they’re learning something and having fun.”

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