Aug. 24, 2011
Public Affairs Office
VICKSBURG, Miss. — Students from three Vicksburg elementary schools spiced up their summer break with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fun and learning, courtesy of ERDC.
Camp Invention, a week-long learning experience sponsored by ERDC was held July 11–15. The program provided an exciting way for more than 100 area students to learn that STEM isn't just about slide rules and pocket protectors.
The program offered students in grades one through six the opportunity to work hands-on with projects such as water purification, recycling, shelter construction and even the physics of roller coasters.
"Our main purpose in getting involved with the project is to engage students at an earlier age and expose them to STEM disciplines," said ERDC Education Outreach Coordinator Rick Tillotson. "Maybe this will interest them in a career in science or engineering.
"The kids loved the action. As a former educator, my favorite part was having a second grader explain how they learned about purifying polluted water. They were definitely excited about the activities," Tillotson said.
Camp Invention is a two-year-old program initiated by Vicksburg public schools. ERDC officials were informed about the program and provided funding that allowed more students to attend.
The climax of the week was quot;Parents Day" at the school at which parents were briefed by the children on their projects. They also met with ERDC officials including Acting Deputy to the Commander Maj. Jonathan Howell, Assistant Director for Human Capital Dr. Peggy Wright and Tillotson. When Wright asked several of the campers what their favorite part of the event was, the replies included "I liked inventing" and "building the roller coaster" and the most enthusiastic response of all, from a young man entering kindergarten: "I liked EVERYTHING!"
"Looking down the road, we might have gained the interest of a student that one day may become an engineer," Tillotson said. "In the short-term, we got the kids excited about education. We hope to continue to assist Camp Invention in the future."