High Tech Summer Camps: A hands-on exploration in science, technology, engineering and mathematics

Summer camps are an excellent mechanism for students to gain first-hand knowledge about science and technology, and its applications in modern manufacturing operations. They lay a firm groundwork for students to explore career and educational opportunities in advanced manufacturing, and enable students to hone skills needed to perform in today’s global marketplace.

FLATE recognizes the importance of career and technical education and is supporting several colleges throughout Florida to offer STEM-related camps for middle and high school students. The initiative is part of FLATE’s outreach efforts targeted to enhance science, mathematics, engineering and technology (STEM) education, and help students cultivate technical, leadership, professional and team-building skills.

FLATE-sponsored camps
This summer FLATE is partnering with Hillsborough County School District and Hillsborough Community College to host three robotics camps for middle (introductory and advanced) and high school (introductory) students. The camps are targeted to introduce students to the concepts of robotics technology, and provide a platform where they can explore its applications in industrial as well as everyday settings. The middle school camps are scheduled for July 13-17, and Aug. 3-7. The high school camp is scheduled July 20-24. Each of the camps will be offered at Hillsborough Community College in Brandon from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Applications are due before May 15. The total cost is $75.

Camps at other community colleges
Brevard Community College is also offering two workshops for high school and community college educators. The workshop for high school educators is scheduled for June 1-11, while the second one for community college educators will be offered in Fall 2009. The focus of the workshops will be on composites and engineering technology, and will include two groups of 20 students.

Another similar offering are the camps offered by Tallahassee Community College. The focus once again is on composite materials and composite manufacturing careers. TCC is hosting two, 5-day composite camps for students from July 13-17 and July 27-31; and a one 3-day camp for science teachers from June 23-25. Each of these camps will be held at TCC, and are made possible through the FSU CEAM grant. It involves 24 high school students, 16 secondary science and mathematics teachers.

Florida Community College at Jacksonville is also hosting two “industrial, manufacturing and machining” camps for middle and high school students. The camps will be held at FCCJ’s Advanced Technology Center during June and July, and represent a partnership between educators and industry professionals alike. During the camp students will manufacture individual key chains using manual/ automated machining equipment and manufacturing simulators. Students will also have the opportunity to visit four manufacturing companies, and receive guidance about specific training needed for each of the jobs showcased during the tours.

Guidance counselors, enrollment coordinators together with FCCJ staff/faculty will provide information about the college’s manufacturing training programs, and work with students to identify courses they can take in high school to progress towards manufacturing careers. They will present additional career planning strategies/tools, admissions/financial aid, and provide parents with proactive strategies to improve their child’s manufacturing career readiness.

On a similar token, Manatee Community College also hosted several camps during Spring 2009. The first was the “Girls Engineering Abilities Realized” camp which was a week-long exploration, focused on electrical and mechanical engineering. The camps were held in several locations (North Port High School, Sarasota County Technical Institute and Central Community Redevelopment Agency). They provided hands-on experience in motorized simple and compound machines, and reinforced core middle school mathematics and science concepts. MCC also ran a parallel marine science camp in April for middle school boys at the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota. This week-long event offered students a prime opportunity to learn about Mote Marine history, its current and future research efforts, marine invertebrates and technological tools used to conduct oceanic research. The camp was offered free-of-charge, and co-sponsored by MMLA, MCC and several organizations affiliated to the college.

In addition to offering students an exciting opportunity to experience the different facets of modern technologies, each of these events involve solving modern manufacturing and technology problems, building and programming computer controlled mechanics, explaining the finer points of the program, their mechanical features, and are geared to sharpen participants’ ability to solve real manufacturing problems. They aim at educating students about the basic principles of mathematics, physics, manufacturing processes, automation and machines using conveyors, pulley systems and cranes using hands-on learning approaches.

For more information visit www.fl-ate.org, or contact Dave Gula at 813.259.6581, gula@fl-ate.org.