COLONIE — A nationally recognized STEM summer camp will be returning to the North Colonie Central School this summer.
The week of July 11, Shaker High School will host Camp Invention, a weeklong program that focuses on introducing children to and engaging them in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) by utilizing problem solving projects. Any student entering grades one through six can attend the camp, but it only accepts 110 students and costs $220 to register. The camp will run from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. This is the second year that North Colonie has hosted the program.
Brian Ashline, a technology teacher at Shaker High, was the camp director last year and will be resuming that role this summer. Ashline, who just finished his ninth year of teaching, said he became involved when he saw that it was a great way to get younger kids involved in STEM based activities.
“This camp is really designed to get a kid excited about it,” Ashline told Spotlight News.
He works with an assistant director and other instructors, along with older students ranging from high school to middle school age to run the camp. Even though the campers are all younger students, older students get involved by supervising and helping groups of campers while they work on their projects. Ashline noted that it’s beneficial for older kids as well as the younger ones because they get work experience along with 40 hours of community service credit.
According to Ashline, about half the students who attended last year are signed up to come back this year.
“All of the kids, they just love it,” he said.
Camp Invention, a non-profit organization, is the brainchild of the National Inventors Hall of Fame and was created through a partnership with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, according to Camp Invention spokesperson Susan Lessman.
Camp Invention relies on local educators such as Ashline to facilitate their programs. The program serves more than 94,000 students every year through nearly 1,400 camps across the nation, according to a press release. Each year the program has a new curriculum that consists of different projects for students to focus on. This year’s curriculum is called “Epic.” For one week, campers will have the chance to build and personalize a solar powered cricket robot and work together to develop an eco-adventure park. They’ll also be brainstorming ideas for their own products and building prototypes, and taking part in a lab that centers on the science of slime, demolition, coding, and electronic sound.
As a high school teacher, Ashline enjoys the chance to work with younger students. But, having a STEM centered camp for a week doesn’t solve the larger pervasive issue of trying to get kids involved long term with STEM programs throughout their school careers.
“Kids need to find what they’re passionate about and if they do that, they’ll be successful in life,” he said.
This summer, Camp Invention will be held in a few other Capital Region areas, including Pine Bush Elementary School and Scotia-Glenville Middle School.