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Sign up for STEM summer camp

Cayman Conversation 22 May, 2023 Follow News

Sign up for STEM summer camp

In this latest edition of Cayman Conversations, Antoinette Gayle, Assistant Professor at UCCI in the Division of STEM and Health, and Director/Facilitator of the UCCI’s STEM summer camp, spoke with Caymanian Times Publisher Ralph Lewis about the UCCI’s highly popular STEM summer camp taking place this July.

Each year UCCI holds its STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) summer camp for young people who yearn to widen their interest and knowledge on the four subjects. This year they are holding their STEM summer camp from 17th - 31st July, each day from 9am to 4.30pm. It is an event they have been holding every year since 2017 and this year the camp is sponsored by Enterprise Cayman of Cayman Enterprise City.

The students, Antoinette advises, will have a ball, working with liquid nitrogen, building and programming robots, working with 3-D printers, learning how to work a drone, and so many more incredibly exciting activities.

“The students will get to do science activities, build robots, and take them home with them. They get to do environmental science, microbiology, chemistry, mathematics games. They get to programme robots, they get to do computer programming; it’s one whole week that is packed with fun and a whole bunch of learning (they don’t know they are learning though),” she said.

In 2017, the camp took off with three days of activities, but parents requested more than just three days, so since then they extended the summer camp to five days. Antoinette said they were hoping to extend it even further to two weeks next year, because the camp has grown so popular.

Organisers are hoping to attract students going into years 7 to 9 at the high schools, between the ages of 11 and 13.

“We find that they are the ages when students are a lot more open to trying some of these activities, but have already developed some interest in the activities, so it doesn’t feel like we’re forcing them to do something they have no interest in,” she stated.

Any student from those age groups can apply.

Broad exposure

Students will hear from a variety of experts in their field who will help them with their projects. This interaction also allows students to interact with private sector individuals in the STEM field who may well spark an interest in students in pursuing a career in the area of STEM.

Programmes such as the UCCI STEM summer camp were important not only for the individual, but for society as a whole, she said. UCCI mostly has students age 16 and over, but exposing students to a STEM summer camp at a young age can open a whole new world for young people before they get to tertiary level education.

“Not every student, not every guardian, not every educational facility has the capacity to expose students to science, technology, engineering and maths activities and give them hands-on learning experiences like we do,” Antoinette advised.

Students are not sitting in a classroom; they get to use their hands and create projects outside of the home and “get to see that there is a world out there that’s a little bit larger than they are.” In that way, they get the chance to see a much broader view of the options available to them, career-wise.

They benefit from developing their problem-solving, technical and analytical skills, all important building blocks to assist them with their future studies, wherever they may decide to study, at high school, at UCCI or other tertiary education.

Parents involved

Antoinette said that students were able to take items they have made home which parents are always excited about and which ensured that the learning did not stop when the students went home. They can take home the activities they have made and materials that will help them continue their projects.

“The parents are really excited and really supportive of what we are doing,” she confirmed. “They are really appreciative of what the kids get when they come to the STEM camp at UCCI.”

Last year places were highly prized and were filled within three hours of their launch. This year the application process begins on 12th June at 10am. Students themselves must write an essay for the application in which they must outline in 50 words or less why they are interested in the camp, what they hope to learn, and what their career interests are.

“We are going to be using that this year to ensure that the sponsored spaces that we have through Enterprise Cayman go to students who are really, really keen and interested,” Antoinette explained.

Parents are encouraged to have their children complete the short essay before they make the applications so they can simply cut and paste their child’s essay into the application form. As spaces are limited, parents and their children are recommended to apply when the application process opens to avoid disappointment. There are 25 spaces in total and each spot costs CI$200 for the week.

Visit www.ucci.edu.ky /STEM-camp for more information.

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