SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. --
The Society of American Military Engineers held The Science Technology Engineering and Math Camp at Scott Air force Base, Illinois, July 23-28, 2018.
Civil Engineers with the 375th Civil Engineer Squadron provided a powered site for the campers to stay during the camp.
The camp was held as a way to get young people more involved in engineering and sciences, said Nicole Gunyon, STEM camp director. The students have already expressed interests in the STEM career fields, so camp directors can assist in narrowing down colleges that excel in these fields.
“This is a great age because they understand what we are trying to do, understanding that college is a goal,” said Gunyon.” We show them if this is what you’re trying to do as an adult, this is how you get there.”
Throughout the camp, the students participated in team-building and engineering activities. Each team had two adult mentors who guided members and answered direct questions throughout the events.
During the course of the week they participated in designing water bottle rockets, building cardboard canoes and racing them, building dog houses, and took an engineering reaction course where they were exposed to different types of engineering, including mechanical and civil.
The camp housed 40 campers from 21 states divided into four teams of 10. Each of the teams included a civilian and military mentor with different engineering backgrounds, Gunyon said.
Gunyon said that along with each team having a military mentor, Air Force recruiters from the base came to talk about STEM career fields in the military. She said it was important for the students to know their options.
“If I knew all the options maybe I would have chosen a different path,” said Gunyon. “We didn’t have all those options. If they have all those options maybe they can choose a better life for themselves.”
To make it into the camp, each student went through an application process that assessed their school grades, community standing, and required an essay on why the camp would be good for them.
Isabella Cunningham, a camp member from Virginia, said, “I’m very happy I made it here and not just for the experience and meeting people. I feel like I’m taking a lot away from the camp, and I’ve learned so much. It’s given me an idea of what I want to do with my life.”
The base also holds an annual STEM day, which familiarizes youth with different ways technology and engineering is used while this camp was designed to build on that information and give the children an opportunity to work with others with the same interests. Gunyon said she hopes the camp will become an annual event as well.
“We want to promote STEM careers to students to further our career field,” said Gunyon. “By doing the camp year after year we can get more kids going to college and hopefully inspire them to be the next great inventor or Einstein.”