Once your kids get to middle school, public or private, chances are they will be required to complete a science fair project. For some students, this is a satisfying, exciting adventure into the world of research and experimentation. For others, it's a huge hassle and takes time away from homework during the school year.
Veteran science teacher Guillermo Garcia decided the best solution was to get kids to do their projects in the summer. So he founded STEM Camp.
“The whole idea for this thing is to give kids a very positive science experience, to show them that science investigation can be a lot of fun,” Garcia explained. “STEM Camp is different in that this camp produces a product, they’re going to walk out of here with a finished science fair project.”
In a one-week session, the 30 students, ranging from 5th to 9th graders, will complete their experiments and finish their boards and write-ups, ready for science fair.
“You get it over with so with school you don’t have to worry about doing it with all your other work, so it’s much better doing it now,” said Alex Vives, an 8th grader at Miami’s Carver Middle School.
Garcia holds the camp sessions wherever he can find space. We visited STEM Camp at Florida Christian School. He’s holding another session at the Miami’s Museum of Science the week of August 10th, and says he can barely keep up with the demand from parents.
“One of the girls’ moms came up to me and said my daughter is so excited about this project and she’s never liked science before and that’s the whole idea, to get them to own the project,” Garcia said.
The projects themselves cover a wide range of physics, chemistry, and biology.
“We have everything here from chemistry, a gas law analysis, to what design of boat holds the most weight to what hull design resists water the best,” boasts Garcia. “We even have blood spatter, forensic analysis going on, and one student is doing a psychological exam which messes with your left brain and right brain.”
Besides a finished project, the students leave camp with something else: confidence.
“They do get a good self-esteem boost when their project works out and they also learn to communicate with adults and others about their work, about their results,” said Garcia, explaining that one of the overlooked benefits of competing in science fair is learning communication skills.
If you’re interested in sending your child to STEM Camp’s last session, or to reserve a spot for next summer, send an email to STEMCamp@yahoo.com. The cost is $225 per session, and some limited scholarships are available.