(BALTIMORE, Md.) – With the recent launches of two commercial spaceflights and increasing interest in space tourism, about 20 local elementary and middle school children are getting an interactive education in space exploration at a weeklong STEM Camp at Notre Dame of Maryland University. The annual program returned to the campus after the COVID-19 pandemic forced its cancellation in 2020.
From July 19-23, the youth participated in specialized learning activities that included a visit to the campus-based planetarium, a space talk from a NASA ambassador about Mars and careers in the space industry, and hands-on science experiments that teach important STEM lessons related to space, including building and launching a rocket.
Since 2014, Dr. Juliann Dupuis, associate School of Education dean, and Dr. Lisa Pallett, associate professor, have directed the camp. Its instructors are accomplished educators and graduates from Notre Dame’s master’s degree program in leadership teaching STEM.
“It is important that all young people have access to quality STEM experiences outside of the classroom, and because not all teachers have that skillset, having extra-curricular activities STEM programs are especially important,” said Dr. Dupuis. “The STEM Camp is fun and a way to get students interested in STEM and provide opportunities that they may not have otherwise."
The youth campers, some of whom attend year after year and even return as volunteers, get a chance to stretch their imaginations and learn valuable lessons in teamwork, in addition to building their skills as future scientists.
For 12-year-old Anaya Watson, she gained a lot from the camp and aspires to someday become a STEM camp instructor. The design challenges to keep an egg safe when dropped from a distance and to protect a rocket from a crash landing have opened her eyes to what is possible when she explores different solutions to an engineering problem.
“It is really fun to see all of the different options that we can do,” said the rising seventh grader. “I do really like science, so this was fun.”
Established in 1895, Notre Dame of Maryland University (NDMU) is a private, Catholic institution in Baltimore, Maryland, with the mission to educate leaders to transform the world. Notre Dame has been named one of the best "Regional Universities North" by U.S. News & World Report.