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Through an educational collaboration with Moraine Valley Community College, Community High School District 218’s STEAM camp, students in grades 2nd through 7th are learning all about science, technology, engineering, art and math.

Through an educational collaboration with Moraine Valley Community College and Community High School District 218’s STEAM camp, students are learning all about science, technology, engineering, art and math. (Supplied photos)

MVCC, District 218 partner for a STEAM summer

By Kelly White

Local area grade school students are spending their summer in the classroom.

Through an educational collaboration with Moraine Valley Community College and Community High School District 218’s STEAM camp, students in second-grade through seventh-grade are learning all about science, technology, engineering, art and math.

These fields are changing the world and more students should have the opportunity to gain exposure to the cutting-edge field of STEAM, according to Larry Langellier, Professor of Computer Science at Moraine Valley Community College.

“One important way these classes better prepare students for the future is to build their confidence that STEAM is something they can do,” Langellier said. “The projects we do in the classes take what they have learned in school and start to show them how this knowledge, combined with creativity, passion, and persistence, can be used to develop solutions that are interesting and connect to their everyday lives.”

Langellier instructs the courses with the help of his daughter, who is a senior student majoring in Mathematics and Computer Science at Trinity Christian College, Alexis (Lexi) Langellier and another senior student majoring in Behavioral Health and Wellness specializing in Nutrition at Illinois Institute of Technology, Rebecca Oziemkowski.

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Rebecca Oziemkowski (center), a senior student majoring in Behavioral Health and Wellness specializing in Nutrition at Illinois Institute of Technology, works with students at Community High School District 218’s STEAM classes. (Supplied photos)

“STEAM classes help the students learn very early on that it is okay to make a mistake because that is how you will learn,” Rebecca Oziemkowski said. “This will help them carry on a mindset that will promote problem solving and allow them to not be afraid of their mistakes. These classes also help students with their planning skills. Many programs teach them to think ahead but still keep organized while doing it. This prepares them to better anticipate future challenges and how to work through them efficiently.”

Moraine Valley offers two STEAM camps at each District 218 high school: Eisenhower High School, 12700 Sacramento Ave., Blue Island; Richards High School, 10601 Central Ave., Oak Lawn; and Shepard High School, 13049 S. Ridgeland Ave., Palos Heights.

One camp is for rising third-grade through fifth-grade students who can take the following classes: LEGO WeDo Robotics (students start by building and programming standard robot models and end by dreaming up and delivering a robot they designed themselves), Cricut digital design (where students design and transferring it to a water bottle to take home), Introductory Code.org (a free online tool for introducing students to computer science) and Introductory Desmos (fun classroom math activities).

The other camp is for rising sixth- through eighth-graders who can take the following classes: LEGO EV3 Challenge Robotics (where students build a robot and through a progressive set of activities learn to program their robot to solve a variety of challenges), Origami, Advanced Code.org (a free online tool for introducing students to computer science), Android App Inventor), Scratch (a free online programming tool used to develop an animated, interactive science model) and Advanced Desmos.

“I believe the STEAM camp helps students understand the exciting opportunities that exist in STEAM and how much fun they could have pursuing degrees and careers in those areas,” Langellier said. “Many students don’t understand how much creativity and fun is involved in these careers”.
The students sign up through the elementary and middle schools that feed into the D218 high schools. Each camp is one week long and meets on Mondays.

Through the creative hands-on educational approach, students are definitely having fun while learning STEAM.

“There is a lot of stuff we don’t do in school at the camp; and at home I have Legos, but I don’t get to really become an engineer and make robots,” Matthew Thompson, 9, of Palos Heights, said. “It was really cool. We don’t get to be engineers in third grade. I’m learning a lot of stuff that I didn’t from anywhere else.”

“I like this camp more than school because we got to make robots and I made a Minecraft water bottle,” Danny Glynn, 8, of Palos Heights, said. “I really liked the math challenges on the computer, because I really love math.”

As one of Thompson and Glynn’s instructors, Lexi Langellier, agreed.

“Personally, I think the biggest benefit from STEAM classes, especially with the classes being offered to young children is making boring subjects fun,” Lexi said. “These classes give students an opportunity to see a brief introduction into all the things you can do in the STEAM fields, and it shows the potential these subjects have when you pursue them. So many students leave these camps with the new dream of becoming an engineer, computer programmer or designer, fields they hadn’t previously considered.”

This is the fourth summer the college has offered the free STEAM Camps to the district. They have been running similar programs at Moraine Valley for 20 years, but the partnership with 218 has help educators reach students in Moraine Valley’s district that may not have the opportunity to travel to the college campus in order to take similar classes there.

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Alexis (Lexi) Langellier (right), a senior student majoring in Mathematics and Computer Science at Trinity Christian College, works with students at Community High School District 218’s STEAM classes.

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