2015 Hosting STEM Camps
Over my freshman summer, I hosted five STEM week long camps for kids aged 9–14 to fund raise for my high school robotics team with the help of a couple dedicated friends.
Last year, the team ran out of savings and needed money to compete in the following year. I decided that turning the previous year’s Lego Mindstorm classes into 3 week of various camps would provide a good opportunity to obtain funding. Although hosting 5 individual camps seemed like a big task to undertake at the time, the task became easier as it was broken into small actionable steps. First, I needed to find one or two dedicated team members who would be able to help with the amount of work needed to prepare and teach the classes. After weeks of pestering and convincing, I was able to bring a fellow team member who organized the previous year’s classes and believed that five classes was too much to achieve. We began to plan the dates and location for the classes. Along with creating the curricula for the classes, I had the experience to work with organizing a shipment of 20 robots from China which was my first time working with a manufacturing company overseas. I also had the chance to setup my first eCommerce website to sell the classes. It was the first time that a website I hosted was actually seen by actual people other than myself. It was a fantastic experience where we were able to work with the next generation of thinkers. Each camp covered a new topic such as Vex Robotics, Scratch Programming, and also Engineering Concepts. Most importantly, each camp brought in new students to work with! Over the three weeks, over 70 kids were able have fun and learn about STEM topics at the same time. At the same time, I learned how to run a successful fundraiser.
1. Making a big impact requires a lot of effort
Preparing for the class was a similar experience to preparing for finals. Hours of time were spent relaying information to parents about the logistics and days were spent on building the curriculum. Many meetings were made to coordinate the logistics of the classes such as when and where the classes would take place. Even after the last stone was set in place, more work needed to be done. I remember being on vacation in Hawaii and replying to questions sent by parents about the classes while I was on my way to the beach. The real fun started on the first day of camp. I was managing an all day Lego Mindstorms class for young 8–9 year old kids who most likely had ADHD and ate over sugared cereal for breakfast. The first day passed smoothly with the students behaving in some manner, but as the week dragged on students began to get too comfortable. Similarly, the volunteers began to get burnt out as getting up early and managing kids all day tends to drain a tremendous amount of energy. However, the effort was worth making as the students had a great experience.
2. Community Service works
After a tiring but rewarding three weeks of teaching, the x students left with a determination to learn about STEM and pursue the career. I can’t help but wonder what they would have done without the camp. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity in my childhood to learn from others about STEM topics. But I had the gift of providing a stepping stone towards what ever passion and career the kids wanted to take.