East Austin College Prep’s 2014 STEAM Summer Institute Comes To A Close
East Austin College Prep S.T.E.A.M. Summer Institute ended the 2014 summer season with a field trip to the Austin zoo on July 25, 2014 wrapping up another fun-filled summer for the campers and staff at EAPrep. This year, campers learned about science, technology, engineering, art and math through interactive and educational activities. The camp served over 150 unique students over 7 weeks.
“STEAM Camp is an opportunity to address summer learning loss as responsible educators as well as to allow campers to gain knowledge in a fun and hands-on manner,” says Corin Caridine, Director of EAPrep’s STEAM camp. The general theme of the camp this summer was a “Sense of Place which focused on learning more about the animal and plant life native to the community, state and world at-large as well as each camper’s own sense of self. This year, art was added to the curriculum because, Caridine says, it’s “naturally a part of so many STEM careers,” and allows students to, “continue to use their creativity is a relevant part of their academic and personal development,.”
Students participated in daily, hands-on discovery labs using the scientific method, performed physical activities, acted in plays, and created art projects that were STEM-based. In addition to the Austin Zoo, other field trips included the Austin Aquarium, Science in Movies at Stunt Ranch, a scavenger hunt at Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum, and a visit to the Austin Nature Science Center.
“My favorite field trip was the zoo because I got to see different animals in real life,” says camper Arteja A. “My favorite animal was the tiger!”
“Students in underserved communities have limited opportunities to be exposed to STEM experiences and careers,” says Caridine.
Joyelyn Jurado, Community Programs Project Manager for Southwest Key Programs adds,“Summer learning loss is a real issue students face, especially in a community like east Austin. Young people need a place to be safe and engaged beyond the school year. EAPrep’s STEAM Summer Institute seeks to address those three things: learning, safety and engagement.”
“My favorite part about STEAM camp was making the bird feeders,” says camper Alexus B. “I got to see the birds eat the food I provided through binoculars and I learned that birds are as important to our environment as humans.”
“My hope is that these skills reinforce a love of learning that the youth carry with them into their future careers,” says Jurado.
The students would not have access to the EAPrep STEAM camp experience without key partners TEA/ACE Afterschool Centers on Education and Time Warner Cable's Connect a Million Minds Initiative. Also indispensable to organizing the camp are staff at EAPrep and Southwest Key, parents, the camp curricula-writer and district liaison Jessica Lagalo, and service provider partners such as Boys and Girls Club of Austin headed by Club Director Erika Gonzalez, Communities in Schools, and Americorps.
Jenny Pizano, Assistant STEAM Camp Director enjoys working with the students and relishes every moment.
“I can relate to these students because I came from a similar background,” says Pizano whose parents worked hard to earn college degrees while raising three kids and struggling to make ends meet. “Watching them better their lives made me want to do the same. I was lucky, I know all kids don’t have positive role models at home, so if I can provide that for the students during summer or after-school, I’m happy.”