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National EWeek & Robotics Camps The Immediate Vs. Year-Round Commitment to Engaging Students in STEM
Engineers Week (EWeek) is currently underway with EWeek outreach to girls featuring a special “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day” scheduled on Feb. 26. There are several ways to be involved/engaged in this national effort.
Here in Florida, FLATE-the NSF ATE Center of Excellence has been working with students, educators and industry across Florida, for the past 10 years, to get middle and high school students, especially girls, engaged and excited about STEM and/or careers in manufacturing. As part of this sustained and cohesive effort and to showcase STEM-based applications particularly in high-tech manufacturing settings, FLATE is once again hosting several robotics camps in 2015 for middle and high school students, not only in the greater Tampa Bay area, but across the state.
This summer, FLATE will offer six weeks of robotics camps for middle and high school students, including an “All Girls” camp. Camp season for 2015 will kick off with the “All Girls” robotics camps from June 15-19, followed by two additional intro camps from June 22-26 and July 6-10. This will be followed by two intermediate camps from July 13-17 and July 20-24, concluding with the engineering technology camp for high school students from July 27-31.
Each camp is designed to sharpen campers’ technical skills through hands-on challenges and exercises, stir their curiosity about careers in high-tech, high-skilled and high-paying manufacturing jobs that are available in the sunshine state, and at the same time hone campers’ soft skills by working in teams. In 2014 FLATE’s robotics camps underwent a major overhaul. In that, for the first time in six years, campers/students had an opportunity to program the all new, Lego® EV3 Mindstorms® robot system which provided campers with tremendous versatility and an overall enriching experience.
The camps have proven to be an effective mechanism in reaching out to middle and high school students, particularly girls, giving them a “hands-on, minds-on experience”. The intro and intermediate camps will focus on building and programming the Lego® EV3 Mindstorms® robots, while the high school camp will offer higher level of challenges that includes using SolidWorks and CAD to design a robotic arm, engage in 3D printing processes using additive manufacturing techniques and Arduino programming. Students in each camp will also tour a local high-tech manufacturing company where they will see, first-hand, STEM concepts and principles being applied in everyday high-tech manufacturing processes, and possibly unleash their interest in STEM-related careers.
In another effort to reach out to minorities and enable students from low income backgrounds to explore STEM based careers, FLATE is once again partnering with Suncoast Credit Union Foundation and the HCC Foundation to offer 20 scholarships to attend the not only the “All Girls” camp, but the intermediate and/or the high school engineering technology camps. Scholarships will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, and are geared to encourage students, particularly girls, to pursue careers in science and technology. All camps will be held at Hillsborough Community College in Brandon; cost for each week-long camp is $175.
As in previous years, FLATE is also partnering with organizations across the state to offer regional robotics camps. Updates and information on these specific camps will be provided in the March edition of the FLATE Focus, so be sure to stay tuned, or better still, sign up to receive our monthly newsletter to stay in the know about the camps and/or any STEM based projects in your area. FLATE is also currently working on developing a summer camp curriculum. This “camp in a box” type curriculum will include all challenges, lessons and PowerPoint presentations needed to successfully run a five-day camp. The curriculum will be available for purchase later this Spring as FLATE is currently looking for feedback to determine the cost/retail value of the curriculum. Your input is valuable and will be much appreciated so be sure to drop us a suggestion(s)
For more information about the camps and/or the curriculum contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at email@example.com and Desh Bagley, FLATE outreach manager at firstname.lastname@example.org/
FLATE is a National Science Foundation Regional Center of Excellence, committed to ensuring Florida has a well prepared workforce for advanced and emerging technologies. Created in 2004, FLATE is one of 42 Advanced Technological Education Centers in the United States funded by the National Science Foundation focused on improving science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education and training to meet the needs of American advanced technology industries. For more information visit www.fl-ate.org.
Dr. Marilyn Barger