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Youth Return to Campus for UK STEM Experiences Camps

Students test their creations at STEM Camp in Dickey Hall

Students in second grade through high school were back on the University of Kentucky campus this summer for in-person STEM Experiences camps. The program also hosted two weeks of virtual camps, giving students the chance to take part from any location.

For 11 years, STEM Experiences camps have given youth opportunities to get a sneak peak of what it feels like to learn in university classrooms. The UK College of Education’s Dickey Hall and Taylor Education Building were once again buzzing with excitement and innovation after the camp moved to a virtual platform last year due to COVID-19 precautions.

During the weeklong day camps, diverse groups of youth explored science, technology, engineering and mathematics activities. They took part in hands-on experiences and built foundations for becoming future mathematicians, chemists, scientists or computer programmers.

“Often, students grow up feeling they do not belong in the STEM community, and that can be particularly true for non-white, non-male people,” said Margaret Mohr-Schroeder, a UK College of Education associate dean and professor in the Department of STEM Education who co-founded the program in 2010. “By bringing a diverse group of students to the UK campus each year, we are working to disrupt the systems that make some people feel as if STEM is not for them.”

UK STEM Experiences is a collaboration among UK’s Colleges of Education, Engineering, and Arts and Sciences. This summer, the STEM Experiences program hosted STEM Camp, Vex Robotics Camp, Lego Robotics Camp and Chem Camp.

“Students don’t need to have a love for STEM subjects to take part, but we hope they leave with an increased interest and confidence through learning to collaborate, build trust and apply STEM concepts to real-world challenges,”  Mohr-Schroeder said. We give them an informal, low-stakes environment to explore and make sure every student is able to show their brilliance in STEM.”