Camps help keep focus on Norwin STEM education

| Wednesday, May 15, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Norwin School District officials hope to keep students thinking about science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, programming this summer by offering half a dozen educational camps.

The camps are a part of the district's ongoing emphasis on STEM education in the elementary and middle schools, said Tracy McNelly, assistant superintendent of secondary education.

“This year, we wanted to have camps at an introductory level, as well as an advanced level,” McNelly said. “We wanted to open more camps for kids who might not have had an opportunity to get involved throughout the year.”

The camps are open to students throughout the district and focus on robotics and computer programming, with an emphasis on teamwork and collaboration, multitasking and organization, and critical thinking, McNelly said.

The district's STEM coordinator, Mike Choby, said the camps will give students a pressure-free environment, allowing them to explore different areas without worrying about grades.

“There are no assessment or tests — it's a relaxed environment where they can try out several areas,” Choby said. “The camps allow us to do more focused projects, which might not fit into our traditional 40-minute classes.”

The camps are designed to help students find which STEM area interests them the most, Choby said.

“We want to get our student hooked on whatever they're passionate about, and we hope some will be able to find that through the wide variety we're offering,” Choby said.

McNelly said it's important to get children interested in STEM-based learning to prepare them for a technology-driven job market.

“One of our jobs it to prepare students to become productive, so we want our students to be prepared and have the right skills and mind-set,” McNelly said. “And from what we understand, the STEM-based job market is going to continue to grow.”

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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