Lehigh Acres Middle holds STEAM summer camp
Lehigh Acres Citizen. Melissa Bill. June 20, 2018.

Lehigh Acres Middle School hosted the final day of its STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) summer camp on Friday.

This is the first year the school has held the camp and it was open to all incoming fifth graders, and current sixth and seventh grade students.

According to STEAM Magnet Coordinator, Monica Walker, this program was only available to Lehigh Acres Middle School and came through a grant awarded to the school by the county in October.

Lee County School District was among 32 school systems in the United States to receive funding through the 2017 Magnet Schools Assistance Program.

"We are hoping in coming years that STEAM summer camp will be open up to other middles school's as well," said Walker.

During the camp students got the opportunity to participate in small classes, engaging in hands-on learning through a variety of activities, including forensics, STEAM gardening, robotics, environmental science and art, learning measurements through bubbles and an engineering egg drop challenge.

"It was great for the kids. Each day was a different theme such as Art Meets Science, Math through Art, and an engineering day where they built bridges with pennies," explained Walker. "They also worked on a science experiment, which involved students creating a cushion, which would keep a falling egg from breaking."

Other activities included the creation of a crime scene where one group of students were in charge of setting up the scene and the other group solved the crime through the use of forensics. Students also engaged in an environmental science through STEAM gardening activity where they used reusable materials such as a water bottle to grow plants.

"The week's activities were not limited to science and math, we also did a culinary class. Teams of students made appetizers, a main course and then a dessert. The even wrote down notes, so they went home with their very own cookbook," said Walker.

According to Assistant Vice Principal Joe Restino, the camp was great success and the school is hoping to double the number of students next year.

"It was really pretty phenomenal. I walked into on classroom where students had constructed an entire roller coaster made from pretzels," Restino said.

Restino credited Magnet coordinator Monica Walker, for taking the summer camp concept and bringing it to life.

"The STEAM summer camp idea came from the conversations between a large group of people who then worked together to iron out the details. Monica took that idea and ran with it," said Restino.

According to Restino, the school already had the idea to hold the summer camp before receiving the grant.

"We just had to come up with a program that fell within what the Magnet grant stipulated. "In the end, our overall goal is to attract more students to the school and offer them a great educational experience," said Restino.

According to Walker, the camp's coordinator, the school will also offer a Fall STEAM program to students, which begins in November.

"The summer camp was just a preview for kids to get an idea of what they can expect during the full term school year," Walker said.

Walker, who previously taught an AVID class at the school, will be teach Code to seventh and eighth graders during the 2018-2019 school term.

"It's an AVID bridge class that teaches them how to diffuse the various programming languages," Walker said.

Walker also works closely with Girls Who Code, a nonprofit organization which aims to support and increase the number of women in computer science.

"As women, we are underrepresented in that field," said Walker.

The main goal of Lehigh Acres Middle School's Magnet STEAM program is to open up a different way for students to learn and get the chance to explore other types of careers.

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