By Douglass Huxley
PARKERSBURG — Students participated in a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) Camp at Blennerhassett Elementary this week.
The program was offered to any Wood County student entering third through fifth grades and was free of charge. This year’s program, which runs from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday through Friday, is focusing on NASA’s Artemis Program, which hopes to one day establish a colony on Mars.
“We’re teaching them how NASA uses engineering to solve problems,” Program Director Lisa Smith said. “And we’re doing that with the technology.” The program rotated students to different stations that included drones, sphero balls, a 3D printer, and LEGO EV3 robots. Students would use the different aspects of their STEAM learning to accomplish the task presented to them. All of the tasks focused more on the programming and coding than the actual use of the technology.
“They had to design a lunar lander that would safely land on the moon. They’re going to design some rockets and do some stomp rockets,” Smith said. “They had to make their own robot out of a vibrating motor that could travel on a straight line.” At the drone station students were tasked with programming the drone to lift off from one pad, fly to another, land, and then return. This was to simulate what it would be like on Mars if students had to send a drone out to survey the surrounding area.
The robotics station tasked students to design solutions on how they would program and code a rover to go out and collect rock or mineral samples on Mars. Jared Gump, PhD, from West Virginia University at Parkersburg, was on hand to help instruct the students with the coding and help them navigate the course.
“It teaches them the basics of coding,” Gump said. “It’s a very visual type code, and it’s pretty user friendly for the kids. And they like the LEGO robots.”
At the 3D printing station students worked in teams to design a solution a colony on Mars might face where they would need to 3D print something to solve a problem. Students also worked with graphic design on the laser engraver and created their own acrylic mission patches and keychains. This year’s STEAM Camp will conclude on Friday.
Douglass Huxley can be reached at [email protected]m