Area students are getting some hands-on lessons in science thanks to a week-long STEM camp hosted by the University Center of Southern Oklahoma.
This is the second year the University Center has hosted the camp, and students going into the eighth and ninth grades attend daily from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. However Professor Don Loving of Murray State College said the history of the camp goes back several years.
“We’ve been holding this for several years under several different guises, but we lost our funding,” Loving said. “So now we’re doing it on a much smaller scale, relying strictly on volunteers and donations of supplies because we want to keep it going.”
In spite of the budgetary setback, Loving said the students are exposed to a wide range of experiments and activities.
“We’re introducing them to a wide variety of things, and then they can go with it and see which things they really enjoy the most,” Loving said. “Everybody learns the basics of everything, and as they get more experience they decide which ones they want to concentrate on.”
Loving said some of the activities this week include building some basic circuitry to learn about electronics, learning some basic coding to learn about robotics, building small wind turbines and even building rockets.
“Tuesday was the anniversary of the moon landing so we built some model rockets and shot them off to commemorate the occasion,” Loving said. “Ours were very small. We launched some water rockets and some straw rockets (rockets launched with drinking straws).”
The students said one of their favorite lessons was the lesson dealing with robotics. They used a drag and drop program and Bluetooth on their cell phones to control a mechanized ball. The programming allowed the students to adjust the speed and movement of the ball as well as change the color lighting up the ball.
Loving said the camp is almost as much fun for the instructors as it is the students.
“I teach human anatomy, but electronics is my hobby. So here I get to play,” Loving said. “This is also a really fun way for us to take the tools we use for teaching at the college level and letting us slow down so we can do the things we really want to do.”