The first District 153 STEAM Camp gave one student a chance to create replicas of Chicago’s downtown buildings, a team the opportunity to build a robot and another to produce a movie. It’s all part of STEAM — science, technology, engineering, arts and math.
“It was a blast!” said Jack Keigher, who joined with two friends to build a solar oven. He reported “lots of good energy” abounded at the camp the last week of June.
James Hart School in Homewood has had a lab for two years and students have had great success creating and learning during the school year, said teacher Katie Nigro. Students spend six weeks on creative media arts (CMA) in the broadcast studio and six weeks on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) issues in the computer lab.
Cheri Pesina, who directs the CMA side of the Smart Lab, and Nigro, the STEM lab facilitator, convinced the administration to host a summer program. They weren’t sure how it would go, but the 40 students in the session learned together on projects as varied as bridge building, robotics, animation and computer coding.
“We had some really creative projects, and we had kids helping each other even though it wasn’t work on their own projects,” Nigro said.
The five-day camp gave students entering sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth grades the chance to design projects that could win honors.
The first place winners were incoming sixth graders Kennedy Walker and Khalis Muhammad. Their first project — a Ferris wheel — collapsed the day of judging, but they were about to turn a loss into a win by converting their project into a wind turbine.
The eight judges agreed their efforts represented the true meaning of learning and discovery and applauded them for not giving up even when failure seemed eminent.
Second place honors went to incoming sixth graders Tabitha Werner and Sommer Owens, who produced an animated video.
Third place honors were shared by incoming seventh graders Isabella Woodward and Amy Ward, who built a robot, and the team of Timmy Van Etten, Jack Keigher and Parker Lomaeglio, who cooked hot dogs, pizza rolls and nachos on the solar oven they built using cardboard and aluminum foil.