Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers are in demand, likely areas for growth that can provide good income. Yet youth may not be thinking about STEM careers. To help better acquaint young people with possibilities and potential in those areas, UW-Richland held a STEM camp for 7th-9th graders July 7 – 13 and 44 young people took part.
Hands-on learning experiences, workshops, projects and experiments brought them in contact with microscopes, telescopes, math and physics concepts, plants and animals and more. STEM Camp participants stayed in UW-Richland’s Campus View students housing and took classes on campus, providing them with a taste of what college life is like as they practiced teamwork and gained experience working with students from backgrounds different from their own.
Natalie Claas, a soon-to-be 9th grader from Milwaukee, said “I’d been considering a career in writing, an English major. This camp opened up my mind to job opportunities I may not have considered. Living in the dorms, finding my way around on campus—I know I can do it on my own.”
Aly Scaffidi, also going into 9th grade and from Milwaukee, especially enjoyed visiting a farm. “I got to milk cows and learn about all the things that come from animals. We had fun and fresh experiences—with earth science, ecosystem and other things.”
Aimee Pedro-Merlos, a Richland Center 8th grader, said she opted to participate in STEM campus to help advance her career preparation. An aspiring physician, she said, “I want to help people who are in need or in pain. STEM camp is a good opportunity to learn beyond what I do in middle school. It’s not just educational, it’s fun, too.” Pedros-Merlos said that when the Milwaukee students found out that she lived on a farm, “some of them found it extraordinary. They asked me a lot of question about what it was like. (She laughed.) One question was ‘Do you have the Internet?’”
Pedros-Merlos will be the first in her immediate family to go to college and she’s working hard to be ready. “When I struggle with something—a concept, an assignment—I ask lots of questions.” She feels a need to do well and set a good example because, she notes, “my younger sister looks up to me.”
Students taking part in the 2014 UW-Richland STEM Camp are:
Jessica Laeseke, coordinator of the program and director of the UW-Richland Continuing Education program, encourages local and area students to consider taking part next summer. The fee this year, $300, is likely to be similar next year and it includes meals and housing as well as classes and field trips. First generation college students, minorities and those who qualify for free or reduced school lunch are eligible to apply for full scholarships. For more information, contact the UW-Richland Continuing Education office by email at email@example.com or by calling the campus at (608) 647-6186, Extension 227.