On Friday, August 6th, the Wayne County Public Library completed the first teen STEM camp. This innovative camp is just the beginning of the STEM program that the library will coordinate in partnership with Wayne Community College to generate interest in STEM fields, including AI (Artificial Intelligence).
In the STEM camp, local teens in grades 6th-8th attended a week-long STEM program that focused on immersing the students in STEM fields such as robotics, drone piloting, coding, and 3D printing. Nate Myers, founder of the M Project LLC and STEM Coordinator and Instructional Technology Coach at Rocky Mount Preparatory School, led the camp.
Students adapted the various STEM technologies in design-thinking activities to create their own prototypes of arcade machines, wallets, and more. During the camp, the students were also introduced to entrepreneurial thinking, which develops empathy needed for real world problem solving. Using empathy and entrepreneurial thinking, the teens discussed and identified problems in everyday life, such as flooding in Wayne County, recycling in Wayne County Schools, crop pesticide pollution, and solar energy solutions. The students contacted professionals with their questions and then were able to create prototypes, which they presented to a panel of judges.
Judges evaluated the projects based on originality, solution idea, and the functionality of the prototype. Judges included local community figures Paul Casey, Scott Satterfield, Dr. Katherine MacDonald, and Cristy Barnes-Williams. Parents and guest attendee Timothy Owens, the State Librarian of North Carolina, were also present.
“My favorite part of being an educator and working with youth is seeing the growth and development of students. To see how far they came in one week in terms of problem solving skills, soft skills, communication skills, and creativity was amazing, and I’m glad to be a part of it. Every day there was a lightbulb moment from each student in which I saw the spark and their imagination take off. Once that happened they were taking initiatives on their own to work with the tech tools, bring in their own robots, design their own games and challenges, and explore their own sense of innovation,” said Nate Myers. “This was an amazing experience. I know I’ve done my part when the kids take ownership of their own learning and discovery.”
This grant is made possible by funding from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) as administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (IMLS grant number LS-250229-OLS-21).