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Enid students, teachers learn by doing at CareerTech STEAMmaker Camp

June 29, 2016

More than 50 Enid students and their teachers challenged themselves recently at Oklahoma CareerTech’s STEAMmaker Camp.

The camp, hosted by the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, drew 40 students and their teachers from DeWitt Waller Middle School, Emerson Middle School and Lincoln Academy. ODCTE worked with ESSDACK, an educational service agency with headquarters in Hutchinson, Kansas, to conduct the camp, the third one held in Oklahoma.

STEAMmaker combines science, tinkering, engineering, aesthetics and mathematics with the maker movement and maker education, which is project-based learning that incorporates solution-based problem-solving and engineering to encourage students to make or build things, said Jeremy Zweiacker, nontraditional coordinator at ODCTE.

“We combine that excitement with education on nontraditional careers and encourage students to challenge the status quo and consider careers that tradition tells us can’t be done by one gender or the other,” he explained.

At the camp, teams of two teachers and five to six students entering grades seven through 10 came up with answers to challenges, built prototypes and tested them.

“During camp I had the opportunity to see students that normally do not interact together give presentations to their peers. Seeing students that we push in the classroom to be pushed even farther -- they knocked my socks off,” said Nancy Glover, science teacher at DeWitt Waller Middle School. “This was a great experience for our students and our teachers, and we plan to take it back to our classrooms this coming fall.”

The three-day camp started with a short video before student teams were challenged to build their own rubber band-powered cars in an hour. The students designed, built and tested their cars before presenting them to their peers.

Students spent time on modules like 3-D printing, wearable technology and aeronautics and flight before mashing up modules, like circuitry and sewing, to build something to benefit humanity -- like a flying delivery truck and mosquito repellant headbands. Students presented their creations to their peers and parents.

“I believe that teachers teach how they are taught,” said Ginger Lewman with ESSDACK. “It’s refreshing to have a statewide organization such as Oklahoma CareerTech embrace professional learning where teachers are doing instead of passively being fed information. At STEAMmaker Camp, teachers are expected to dive right in and guide their students by learning right alongside them as role models. Ultimately, that’s the type of active learning we want to see in our classrooms, right?”

Students also heard from several speakers about nontraditional careers and how they might pursue options their parents never dreamed of. They also heard how Autry Technology Center can provide them educational choices when they choose their career plans, and some began to explore careers in engineering.

Instructors participated in a one-day in-depth professional development session to review what they learned during the week. The teachers also received coaching and learned more about using project-based learning strategies in their classrooms. The camp challenged instructors to lead in their classrooms without giving all the answers

The Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education provides leadership and resources and assures standards of excellence for a comprehensive statewide system of career and technology education. The system offers programs and services in 29 technology center districts operating on 58 campuses, 390 comprehensive school districts, 13 Skills Centers campuses that include three juvenile facilities and 30 Adult Basic Education sites.

The agency is governed by the State Board of Career and Technology Education and works closely with the State Department of Education and the State Regents for Higher Education to provide a seamless educational system for all Oklahomans.

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