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STREAM Camp challenges attract Mount Aviat students

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Nathan Smith, Gabriel Teather and Jack Dymowski (from left) work in the library at Mount Aviat Academy, which was turned into a Makerspace for the school's STREAM Camp in mid-June. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

CHILDS, Md. — School had recessed for the summer the week prior, but that wasn’t enough to keep 16 Mount Aviat Academy students from returning for STREAM Camp with teacher Erin Dymowski. STREAM includes science, technology, religion, engineering, arts and mathematics.

The weeklong endeavor started off with a pixel art challenge where students in fourth grade and younger had to plan and execute a 100-grid art project. The older students had a 600-grid project.

Two students work on a puzzle at Adventure Camp at Mount Aviat Academy. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

The other days included creating a contraption that could sort marbles by size; a stranded island challenge in which the students had to try to float a pretend cell phone across a body of water using specific materials; working with animation involving computer coding; and a Makerspace challenge that offered a number of experiences. Students could work with magnets, build circuits or even a solar robot.

Eden Erisman, who will be going into fourth grade, said she liked the stranded island challenge.

“We had to make a boat to get across a little pool of water,” she said. “We had to use a tennis ball, a box of cards. We used a bag to make our sails.”

For Raegan Brown, a rising sixth-grader, the Makerspace was pretty neat. “Mrs. Dymowski put out Play-doh, Legos, magnets. She also put out duct tape, and I made a duct tape dress. It looked kind of like Snow White’s dress, except it was yellow on the top and blue on the bottom.”

Raegan said the Makerspace was in the library just for the camp, but she would like to see it become a permanent fixture at Mount Aviat.

Her sister, Carcie, a rising seventh-grader, was busy at the camp controlling a robot she had created using controls on a tablet computer. She said she didn’t know much about robotics before the camp started.

“We wanted to make it so it was flexible so it would turn well, but we were having some aiming issues. Once he was programmed to go in the right direction, he got around,” she said.

“You have to program it to be aimed in the direction to know where you are and to go the way you actually want him to.”

Dymowski said the students really enjoyed themselves during the camp. One of their activities was making videos using a “green screen,” which replaces a real background with a digital one.

“They had to put themselves inside a book that they liked. That was pretty cool. They all learned how to do green-screen videos. They did so good, so I was proud,” she said.

She also liked the Makerspace. Each table included items such as bouncy balls and circuits. Legos, she said, were especially popular. There are no formal rules for the Makerspace, just that the students get to explore whatever is available to them.

“We just kind of put stuff out there and let them go to town,” she said.

According to Dymowski, more younger students attended the camp, which was held for the first time. She and the other teachers involved were pleased with how it went.

“It was great. We’re talking about doing another one maybe later in the summer. The kids really liked it. They were really, really busy. It was fun. It’s good to see the kids doing it, to see how creative they are,” she said.

STREAM wasn’t the only camp bringing students to the campus in mid-June. Adventure Camp was taking place for youngsters in kindergarten through second grade, and a cooking camp took place the week after. Mount Aviat also has camps for art and volleyball on the schedule for the summer.

Carcie, the rising seventh-grader, said STREAM Camp was fun, but it’s not the only academic pursuit on her calendar. “We also have some summer homework to do, so I’ve gotta get that done, too.”

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