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The City Journals

The benefits of STEM summer programs

Aug 20, 2018 03:38PM ● By Jana Klopsch

All items provided free of charge by The Clark Planetarium for their robotics program.

By Nikki Crown | [email protected] 

Fall brings with it the start of school. Oftentimes some students return to their classrooms with achievement levels lower than they were at the beginning of the summer. But this year, the community provided resources so students could prevent this summer setback —The Clark Planetarium’s STEM summer program. 

STEM is curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — in an interdisciplinary and applied approach. Rather than teach the four disciplines as separate and discrete subjects, STEM integrates them into a cohesive learning paradigm based on real-world applications. 

This particular program provided by The Clark Planetarium was offered free of charge at the Columbus Library. The Planetarium program offered hands-on activities to build robots, collect and analyze data, and solve problems. According to the program’s description it will “simulate NASA mission procedures of identifying an object and designing a robotic exploration mission providing a playful approach to STEM activities.” 

The Clark Planetarium provided both the tablets and the robotic pieces for the interactive learning. 

The mission of the Clark Planetarium as stated on their website is “to create and present enlightening experiences that inspire wonder in learning about space and science and to promote greater public awareness of the science in our daily lives.” 

Joe Roberts, the coordinator of the activity, said, “At the Clark Planetarium they have a passion for science and technology. They’ve seen a decline in museum attendance and if they need to bring that passion closer to the community, to come to you, they will.” 

The coordinator brought that passion for science and technology directly to the youth gathered at the Columbus Library. As they worked on their robot and towards the challenges assigned, they were encouraged with thought provoking and open-ended questions that encouraged their learning and then were praised for their accomplishments. 

Lucas, one of the attendees stated that he signed up for the program because he is “interested in electronics and noticed there is a robotics club at his high school and he wanted to get a head start.” He loved the complex nature and interactive questions provided by this program and the “feeling of accomplishment when your robot does exactly who you want it to.” 

Jack, another attendee, said his favorite part was “being able to mess around with electronics and the thrill of building something of your own.” 

This hands-on learning is not the only benefit to the program. Lucas said he also enjoys the collaborative effort of the program. “I like being able to talk with the others about what their robot is doing and how they did things differently than me. We learn from each other that way.”