Rockets, Ropes and Races. South County Students Learn Scientific Principles at STEM Camp 

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Monterey County Office of Education

Leadership, Support and Service to Prepare All Students for Success

Dr. Nancy Kotowski, County Superintendent of Schools

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STEM Camp 

During their three days at STEM Camp, a classroom of South Monterey County students got to assume the roles of Avengers, Survivor castaways, and a CSI team. What better way to learn about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) than by launching rockets, tying knots, and doing forensic research?

STEM Camp took place June 17-19 at San Ardo Elementary School. The summer learning program was funded by Chevron, coordinated by the Monterey County Office of Education (MCOE), and offered free of charge to K-12 students in South Monterey County.

“We see this as an investment in a community where we operate,” said Adam Alvidrez, Community Engagement Specialist with Chevron. “Students get excited about STEM in general, and maybe that sparks a passion for STEM-based careers in such industries as aerospace or agriculture.”

Using plastic bottles, water and a bicycle pump, students learned about propulsion on Avengers Day. Successful rocket launches were greeted with cheers, while unsuccessful efforts meant a trip back to the drawing board.

“That is the scientific method. We design, we test, and then redesign until we get it right,” said Brandon Swift, MCOE STEM coordinator.

As Survivor castaways, students learned the basics of tying Alpine Butterfly and Bowline knots – useful skills when camping, climbing or even moving furniture. Dr. Catherine Reimer, San Ardo Union School District Superintendent, sat in on the knot-tying exercise.

“The students really enjoyed the hands on experience,” said Dr. Reimer. “We are extremely grateful for what Chevron has provided in this community. For students in rural areas, this is an exceptional opportunity to be exposed to STEM instruction.”

Other camp activities included the Human Knot, Styrofoam Balloon Boat races, and creating 3-D topographic models from a flat map.

Students from schools in the San Ardo, San Lucas, San Antonio, and King City union school districts attended the camp.