Full STEM Ahead

Over 50 different STEM camps for various age groups took place in the Engineering Center and Dodge Hall over the summer months.

A boy sitting next to his creation

Kaden Donnelly, a second-grade student from Clarkston, demonstrates the marble arcade that he created during OU’s Camp Invention in July of 2022.


icon of a calendarDecember 18, 2022

icon of a pencilBy Arina Bokas

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“I am here because I like science a lot. When we built a marble arcade, I had to build it precisely and connect a lot of things, which is hard. It is cool to do hard things,” shares Kaden Donnelly, a second-grade student from Clarkston, who attended OU’s Camp Invention in July of 2022.

The high-energy adventure offered by the School of Engineering and Computer Science led campers to create and test a launching device while exploring such concepts of physics as trajectory and velocity. In the eyes of the little scientist, the goal was clearly accomplished.

“I learned how fast different things can go through the arcade: marbles go very fast and pom poms don’t. This is because they have different weight, and marbles are smooth and pompoms are not,” Donnelly happily recites his learning experience.

For kindergartner Eugene Choi from Rochester Hills, Camp Invention was the second time that he attended a SECS camp this summer. “I like the gripper [a claw machine]. I made it myself, and it can pick up things,” says Choi, proudly demonstrating the working process of his creation.

Donnelly and Choi are just two of the hundreds of children who attended SECS-sponsored STEM camps between June and August of 2022 – the first in-person experience since 2019. In partnership with Ford Motor Company, SECS offered programs for upper elementary, middle and high school students who desired to explore their interests in science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics. Over 50 different STEM camps for various age groups took place in the Engineering Center and Dodge Hall over the summer months.

“Not only do STEM summer camps allow children to remain connected with others throughout their summer break, but they also give a hands-on experience to those with a sparked interest in STEM. It is amazing to see them light up when we get to the topic they know or when the topic finally clicks,” says Halee Tisler, a computer science sophomore who spent 10 weeks working as a counselor at SECS camps.

While younger children enjoy exploration, middle and high school campers are often undertaking more serious tasks. Ava and Asher Wilson, incoming sixth graders from Shelby Township, are all ears in Coding camp.

“We want to learn coding; we tried a different camp last year and didn’t learn much. We are learning so much more here and having more fun. And the food is amazing!” the siblings joyfully share.

Most SECS STEM camps are designed to provide the foundational knowledge of their subject matter; however, this is not the only goal. “No matter their age, we want our campers to learn conceptual thinking and problem solving,” says Chris Kobus, Ph.D., SECS director of outreach.

For high school students, SECS camps also serve as an opportunity to explore possible majors for college. “I had many conversations with my high school campers about their plans for college. A lot of them mentioned that they took the computer science camp because they wanted to learn more about this field before committing to a major,” Tisler explains.

With COVID-related restrictions being continuously lifted, SECS outreach office is planning on bringing back more camps next summer, including a brand-new camp with a focus on novel robotic technology and augmented reality.

To register: https://www.oakland.edu/secs/outreach-programs/

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