The See Blue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Camp was developed by Dr. Craig Schroeder, a UK graduate and Fayette County STEM teacher, and Dr. Margaret Mohr-Schroeder, a UK College of Education professor in the newly created STEM Education department. Dr. Mohr-Schroeder currently serves as chair for UK’s secondary mathematics certification program.
Funded by a grant from the Mathematics Clinic at UK (received from the Kentucky Center for Mathematics), the first camp started out with just eight students in the summer 2010 at Jesse Clark Middle School in Lexington. Over the past four years, the camp has grown to 144 campers.
In summer 2012, Drs. Craig and Margaret Schroeder moved the camp onto UK’s campus to increase students’ exposure to UK STEM experts and give the students authentic experiences on a university campus. The goal of the See Blue STEM Camp is to increase middle school (grades 5-8) students’ interest in STEM careers. Past camps have included hands-on presentations and experiments with Dr. Tim Knaeur (Director of the McAdams Observatory), Dr. Robin Cooper (Dept of Biology), Dr. Cindy Jong (Dept of STEM Education), Dr. Bruce Walcott (College of Engineering), Dr. Leslie Vincent (Dept of Marketing), Ms. Carolyn Crowdus (College of Medicine), etc. Additionally, the students spend half of the day learning about computer programming via the use of NXT Lego Robotics, concluding with a competition at the end of the week.
While the camp is open to all area middle school students grades 5-8, it remains deeply rooted and connected to Fayette County Public Schools. Part of their leadership team includes a Family Resource director who works closely with all the Youth Service Centers at the elementary and middle schools helping to recruit underrepresented populations, especially females and students of color, who would not normally have the opportunity to attend such a camp – scholarships and transportation are provided for these students.
This has been a very popular summer opportunity and a “must attend” from Fayette County Public Schools. Data has been collected on students’ attitudes, perceptions, and interests towards STEM and STEM careers for the past four years. This research has been used to inform UK’s preservice teacher preparation programs on how to motivate students more towards the STEM careers and also helped to identify the “prime” years for increasing students’ interest in STEM careers. This research has been presented locally, regionally, and nationally at conferences such as the School Science and Mathematics Association and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
This camp was partially funded for two years by the Kentucky Center for Mathematics; that seed money allowed the leadership team, including Drs. Craig and Margaret Schroeder, Christa Jackson, and Bruce Walcott, and Mr. Mark Evans (Fayette County Robotics Teacher) and Gabe Brown (Fayette County Youth Services Center), to apply and receive NSF National EPSCoR Track III money to continue the camp and its focus on underrepresented populations. A publication regarding the camp and its impact on students’ interest in STEM is due out in the STEM Special Issue of School Science and Mathematics Journal in October 2014.
For more information about the information above, please contact Dr. Margaret Mohr-Schroeder, UK College of Education.