MIDDSTEAM: The Process
How I planned and ran MIDDSTEAM: Middlebury’s first science, technology, engineering, art, and math spring break camp for middle school girls
How it started…
In October, I received an email from the community engagement office with a call for help from Terri Arnold, the director of Middlebury’s Parks and Recreation center, about a S.T.E.A.M for girls camp.
7 months later, MIDDSTEAM: Middlebury’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math camp for middle school girls was in action from April 18-April 26.
I met with Terri and we spoke about different aspects of the camp and began to brainstorm. We settled on a one week long camp during the local middle school’s spring break from 9 AM — 3 PM, where two days were to be spent on Middlebury College’s campus. I also used a Bootstrap template to create a website for parents, volunteers, and workshop leaders to get information regarding the camp. After winter break, different aspects such as workshop leaders, materials, registration, and camp site details were getting finalized.
In March, Ashley Laux (from community engagement) encouraged me to apply for a Middlebury Student Cluster Board Flex Fund award. I received the grant and it covered a portion of the expenses for the camp.
As April 18 came closer, many last minute logistics came up with hosting minors at Middlebury College. In the end, the office of the VP for Academic Affairs sponsored the program on campus and community engagement assisted a lot with the planning (specifically Tom Corbin, Tiffany Seargent, Ashley Laux, and Mary Reed). I definitely learned a lot about organizing and planning an outreach program throughout the school year.
A Week of MIDDSTEAM
On Monday, April 18, 8 local middle school girls met at ADK Circle and we started off with Meet the STEAM TEAM workshop. Hannah Benz, from the Center for Careers & Internships, organized a panel of college students who are currently studying different fields of STEAM.
Afterwords, Megan Brakeley from community engagement hosted a workshop on online spatial analysis tools, where the girls went outside to measure pace and used online geographic information system tools.
The last workshop was a jewelry making workshop hosting by Meredith Robertson (Class of 2019) and the girls had a variety of bead options. They were able to be creative and make things like keychains, bracelets, and necklaces.
The next day, the girls met at Middlebury’s Parks & Recreation Center. The day started off with a chemistry workshop, which was hosted by chemistry professors Molly Robinson, Michele Dube, and students. Students did different demos and the workshop ended up making ice cream out of liquid nitrogen.
The second workshop was called LOLOL (Lots of Laughing Out Loud) Improv Comedy, hosted by Kate Monroe (Class of 18.5) and Grace Levin (Class of 18.5). This was one of the top favorites among the girls!
The last workshop was led by Nikki Schachman (Class of 2016) and Olivia Artaiz (Class of 2016). These neuroscience majors taught the girls about different sensory and perception processes in the brain. There were a variety of activities where the students tested their own senses.
On Wednesday, Vermont’s Integrated Architecture firm taught students an introductory course to architectural design. They were able to learn about the planning that goes into different buildings.
Additionally, Kate Monroe (Class of 18.5) and Monica Chow (Class of 2016) played a math bingo game with the girls (skittles were included too!!)
On Thursday, the girls were hosted at Middlebury College. The day started off with Anna Parker (Class of 17.5) hosting the aMAZEing World of Code workshop. Students worked in pairs to build a personalized maze game using Pencil Code.
Afterwords, Mack Roark, who works with Middlebury’s Technology Help Desk, taught an introduction to PhotoShop workshop. Girls were able to print out their projects and take it home with them.
Lastly, I used code.org’s resources so that girls can continue learning how to code with different themes such as Frozen, Flappy Bird, Mine Craft, Star Wars, and more.
For the final day, the girls did a range of teamwork activities — starting off with the egg drop challenge. They continued to do different games such as spider web and an obstacle course.
Then, Emma Moskovitz (Class of 2018) and Kate Monroe (Class of 18.5) taught girls different ways to save physics-verse from Dr. Entropy using physics principles.
For their final workshop, the girls drew celtic knots and used math to create patterns. This workshop was hosted by Priscilla Bremser, math professor, and Tracy Weston, education professor.
It was very exciting to see at the end of the week that The Addison County Independent wrote an article (which was featured on the front page) about MIDDSTEAM.
I’m very happy that the girls were able to be exposed to different workshops within the different fields of STEAM. In middle school, 74% of girls express interest in STEM. But over time, their choices can change. Stereotypes that surround them as they grow up are major contributors, but I hope that this camp showed the MIDDSTEAM-ers how fascinating the world of STEAM is and how they can change the world.
Another huge thank you to workshop leaders, Hannah Giese (for general volunteering) and Middlebury’s Parks & Recreation Center for working on this. Additionally, Middlebury College’s Community Engagement has been a major contributor to the success of this camp. I definitely learned many things from community engagement in running a program, but I wouldn’t have even known about it without Ashley. The flex fund was also important in helping fund for workshop materials. I received many emails from parents of the girls, community members, and workshop leaders who enjoyed being a part of MIDDSTEAM.
Many people have asked me if I MIDDSTEAM will be happening next year. I don’t have a concrete answer yet, but I definitely do plan to continue doing STEM outreach.