A camp created by the USF St. Petersburg College of Education to teach young students about science and technology has received the 2019 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.
The award honors colleges and universities that encourage and assist students from underrepresented groups to enter the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). USF St. Petersburg will be featured, along with 49 other recipients, in the September 2019 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.
“We are proud to play a role in reaching populations that are traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields,” said Dr. Brenda L. Walker, Interim Associate Dean of the College of Education at USF St. Petersburg. “Through our STEM summer camps, we are instilling a love of learning and preparing children for a global economy. Knowledge of STEM will give them a significant advantage.”
USF St. Petersburg began offering the robotics camp to local fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth graders in 2018. The camp is designed to inspire young students while promoting critical thinking and problem-solving skills through diverse activities in computer science, engineering, robotics and applied math—as well as a bit of marine science.
Activities offered through the camp emphasize hands-on learning and are designed to trigger students’ curiosity. For example, the children are presented with a series of challenges, such as building a robot that can complete a household chore, creating an operational model of a roller coaster or making ice cream.
In 2019, the camp was expanded to include a special session exclusively for girls, who are traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields.
“Our team at USF St. Petersburg worked very hard to ensure all student voices were included,” said Dr. Sandra Vernon-Jackson, Director of the STEM Inquiry Innovation Lab. “We were especially mindful to include voices that are mostly silenced or ignored from the STEM disciplines.”
Award winners were selected by INSIGHT into Diversity based on efforts to inspire and encourage a new generation of young people to consider programs in STEM through mentoring, teaching, research and successful programs and initiatives.
“We know that many STEM programs are not always recognized for their success, dedication and mentorship for underrepresented students,” said Lenore Pearlstein, owner and publisher of INSIGHT into Diversity magazine. “We are proud to honor these programs as role models to other institutions of higher education and beyond.”
For more information on the USF STEM robotics camp, visit https://www.stpetersburg.usf.edu/events/stem-robotics-summer-camp.