A STEM summer camp at the University Center of Southern Oklahoma is helping kids start thinking ahead.
This marks the camp’s first year in Ardmore. The ongoing summer camp started as an annual residential summer camp at Murray State College, but is now a day camp for kids interested in tech. Murray State College Professor Don Loving said this is his third year teaching the camp.
“In the future, we’re looking at adding more technology,” Loving said. “Because whether they go to college for engineering, or go into technical school, technology has become so incredibly critical.”
This year’s group will be eighth and ninth graders during the upcoming school year. Students spent Tuesday on the MSC Tishomingo campus learning from veterinary technicians and studying animals.
“Last year we had quite a few from northwestern Oklahoma,” Loving said. “This year we have students from Denton and north Texas as well as Oklahoma.”
Students spend half their day working on electronics and the other half on an engineering project, which involves teaming up and making model bridges out of balsa wood. At the end of the week, their bridges will be tested for strength and stability.
“The goal is to see how much weight they’ll hold before they break,” Loving said. “It’s the grand finale of the camp.”
In the afternoons, the group heads to a different activity. On Wednesday, they’ll spend time at Lake Murray.
“A lot of our people are wildlife instructors, so they’re going to take them out and teach them wildlife biology,” Loving said.
Loving, who has taught for 40 years total, said eighth grade is an ideal time to get kids thinking about their futures. High school, he said, is a bit late.
“That’s where they make their decision about whether they’re going to go this way or that way, and it depends on their peer group so often,” Loving said. “When we get to high school, and we’re trying to market college or some other education, they’ve already made up their minds whether they realize it or not.”
Loving said the camp is just one way to get students to think about their futures earlier in their school careers.
“I’m seeing so much more of this statewide,” Loving said. “It’s like we’ve finally grown up and realize what needs to be done.”