GEAR UP Birmingham students participated in Joseph’s House, Inc. Summer STEM Camp, a three-week program to teach students interpersonal skills while also focusing on STEM-related disciplines in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math. “The purpose of this camp is to teach kids problem-solving not just for the benefit of school, but expanding it into life,” said Joseph Clark, the Executive Director of Joseph’s House, Inc. “[We want to] teach them to solve problems that arise in life.”
Students learned and improved in the areas of project investigation, teamwork, design thinking, innovation, and strategy. Each day, students learned from seasoned professionals in the careers of engineering, math, and science. Many young scholars were attracted to the areas of STEM because it sets them apart from others their age. “STEM is different from what you regularly learn; it gets you prepared for the future instead of learning the basic curriculum that everybody else learns,” said Jeremiah Fells, a rising sophomore at Ramsay High School.
“During camp, I learned that the research process is 80% of your project and is the most important part,” Fells said. “The other 20% is putting the project together,” said Fells.
One underlying and reoccurring theme of the STEM camp was teamwork. With the overabundance of technology in today’s world, many students complete tasks individually using their technology as an aid. In response to this trend, Joseph’s STEM Camp strived to teach each student how to work together. By working together, students learned the value of being considerate of others and their ideas. Many of the students found that working in groups taught them how to communicate efficiently and professionally. One student who successfully completed the camp was even offered two jobs since learning how to better communicate, and she attributes her success to Joseph’s STEM camp.
Students also worked in groups to develop a design of Legacy Arena’s landscape only using basic materials such as Q-tips, pasta, and poster boards. This design competition was a popular activity among students because it allowed them to meet new people while also expanding their thinking.
“The open-air stadium is a hot topic, and it’s something that the students have learned about. So, I wanted them to see how, as a teenager or as an adult, you can make an impact on your community with very simple design thinking … [along with] the skills we taught them in camp,” said Coreata Houser, Camp Coordinator.
On the last day of camp, students presented their projects to judges, teachers and their families. “The overall goal of the design competition was to make an impact and connection with the community, so that’s why we chose something that was in Birmingham,” said Houser.
Joseph’s House, Inc. hopes that students walk away from the camp knowing that they can apply the lessons they’ve learned to future situations in their personal lives.