Camp Hones High School Students’ STEM & Entrepreneurial Skills

FLATE’s high school camp, which marks the end of the summer camp season, ended on a high
note with campers raving about the knowledge they gained during the camp. The high school camp traditionally follows a very different format in terms of the curriculum and structure when compared to the intro and intermediate camp. The Camp affords high school students a much wider and in-depth perspective about STEM concepts, and how it is integrated and applied in everyday high-tech manufacturing operations using 3D printers, programming, and robots. “I know massive amounts of programming, but this camp still challenged me” said Ian Cooper. Cameron Willson another camper agreed in that he stated “I have learned MORE in this camp than I ever learned in the three years of high school robotics.”

A key and defining aspect of FLATE’s high school camp, and what made it remarkable for

campers, wasn’t only the challenges, or the programming, or using 3D printers, but a strong emphasis on the business side of manufacturing. Since 2015, FLATE has been partnering with Nuts, Bolts and Thingamajigs, a nonprofit foundation offering manufacturing camps, scholarships for students and grants for STEM educators, to formulate a curriculum that showcases the connection between the business aspects of manufacturing and how manufacturers can and/or are already using expertise of STEM professionals to market lucrative products and ideas. This year the Manufacturing Alliance of Hillsborough County also partnered with FLATE to offer scholarships for FLATE campers. Allan Dyer, high school camp instructor who played a leading role in formulating the curriculum for FLATE, stated the camp once again served a critical role in connecting the dots between robotics, additive manufacturing and 3D printing.

The five day camp took students on an in-depth exploration of some of the hottest

technologies used in high-tech production environments. For students like Jessica Clavell, who was one of two girls in the high school camp and aspires to be the first woman archaeologist in Mars, the challenges and exercises fired her innate interest in STEM and robotics. Students worked in teams to “figure out” how to program an Arduino microprocessor to operate servo motors and used additive manufacturing processes to design a functional robotic arm. They also brainstormed ideas about the “manufacturing process” and what really goes into “manufacturing a product.” The ultimate goal was to design a prototype of a robotic arm that could potentially be marketed to companies like SpaceX that are invested in space explorations and futuristic colonization plans in space. Thanks to the NBT Grant, campers also got to keep the Arduino microprocessors and the 3D printed components and servo motors.

To get a first-hand perspective on how some of these 3D printing and additive manufacturing 
technologies that are being used in real-world settings, students viewed an online presentation from Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX. Students also toured the Tampa offices of EMS-USA, a leading full service provider of commercial 3D printing and 3D scanning solutions to customers across a wide range of industries, including aerospace, automotive, military, consumer goods and more. (Source: EMS). “The 212 mile drive from Jaxville was definitely worth it” said Neel Mistry. Prior to coming to this camp, Neel stated he had only seen a finished product made in a 3D printer, but attending this camp and getting first-hand experience on how a 3D printer is programmed and can be used to manufacture an actual product made it more exciting for him. Alyssa Ramos, who was one of two girls in the high school camp also stated that she was always interested in engineering, but the camp reinforced her interest in the field.

The high school camp provided a 360 degree perspective about manufacturing and the
technologies at play in making of a product. A preliminary oral interview conducted by FLATE revealed highly positive responses from campers. “The camp has definitely changed my opinion of manufacturing and to explore a career in that field” said Ian Cooper. Another camper, Jessica Clavell, who aspires to be an astronaut, stated the camp gave her a better perspective about the processes and infrastructure in manufacturing a product, and she sees herself being involved in manufacturing at some point in her career. “I wasn’t sure about a career in manufacturing, but attending this camp has solidified my decision about going into manufacturing” said Cameron Willson. A summary of the final data and impact of the camps on students will be provided in a subsequent issue of the FLATE Focus. Stay tuned for those updates including data analysis/impact from statewide camps. 

For more information on the high school camp contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at You can also visit, and, or the FLATE Wiki to access other educator/student resources. 

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