The Camp Curtin YMCA is a place where the community connects to education and everyone gets a chance to succeed. The Camp Curtin YMCA Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Summer Camp was held this summer at the branch and welcomed students entering 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grades for the 2018-2019 school year. and everyone gets a chance to succeed. The Camp Curtin YMCA Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Summer Camp was held this summer at the branch and welcomed students entering 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grades for the 2018-2019 school year.
Enhancing STEM learning in elementary education has become a critical issue for our youth. Many sectors have a stake in student interest and outcomes in STEM topics as students grow and when they complete their education. Students will be tested regularly against science standards; employers have a growing need for a diverse workforce trained in STEM-related skills. Communities also have a desire to attract and retain businesses with a strong home-grown employee pipeline. Summer learning programs offer students the chance to study STEM topics with greater depth and focus than is possible during the school year, and to engage community partners and businesses in the education system in a meaningful way.
At the Camp Curtin YMCA, summer is the perfect time to engage with students and prevent summer learning loss, while introducing new skills and opportunities to youth. Summer offers a unique opportunity for students to engage in STEM learning in ways that mirror real-world needs, while also drawing on the practices that make these learning activities most successful. It’s also fun – it’s the Y! We took time to sit down with Marice and his dad to talk about the STEM Camp at the Camp Curtin YMCA this year. Marice is 11 years old and joined the STEM camp to help prepare himself for a transition to private school.
Summertime presents the challenge of summer learning loss for many students, but also the potential for summer programs to reverse these losses by engaging students in exciting ways that look and feel very different from learning during the school year. Young people who lack stimulating and meaningful summer experiences are likely to lose up to three months of learning from the previous school year. Because of differences in families’ resources, the impact of the problem is greatest for students in low-income communities, compared with those in affluent communities. Marice’s dad shared, “I didn’t want him just joining any program, just going on field trips all day. I was a little concerned when he was in 5th Grade about his academics, so I wanted to push the issue of him getting into the STEM camp and focusing on developing educationally, and getting prepared for the upcoming school year.”
Marice’s parents had decided that he would benefit from a change from public to private school in 6th grade. “Marice had a little struggle with math when he came in,” said Franklin Wilson, Jr., a STEM Summer Camp Counselor at Camp Curtin, “but I have seen him put in a lot of work and he wanted to focus on getting better before he went off to private school. I’ve seen him develop a lot.” The Camp Curtin YMCA provides high-quality summer learning programs that have been shown not only to improve reading and math skills but to increase graduation rates and post-secondary success as well. STEM summer programs, in particular, offer a unique and multifaceted opportunity to maintain and build core skills in math and literacy during the high-risk summer months. They do so by engaging Harrisburg youth in hands-on, inquiry-based learning that motivates students by providing activities with real-world application.
STEM projects included astrology, physics, and biology activities like a planets assignment that blended math and the solar system and learning about hydroponics with Capital Region Water. Students learned how to perform library research, use technology in planning, and how to plant and tend to a live garden sponsored by GIANT, from which they prepared and served the resulting vegetables to their peers. “We take a holistic approach to education at the Camp Curtin YMCA,” said Jamien Harvey, Camp Curtin YMCA Executive Director. “The students we serve are sometimes not as excited about the educational projects we work on as they are about the field trips, but we show them balance and patience. It’s important that they leave with skills like how to study and a knowledge base of what interests them in the STEM fields that could lead to future employment.”
“Most kids use this YMCA as an outlet,” said Franklin. “Not all kids that come here are interested in sports. Because we have so many programs for the youth, that’s why it helps kids, it helps them get away. Maybe they have something going on at home, or other distractions, so this YMCA is very important to the community.”