JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas, –
An educational program July 27-31 at Joint Base San
Antonio-Randolph Youth Programs gave a group of preteens an opportunity to
immerse themselves in activities ranging from 3-D printing to video game
The students participated in the STEM-Maker Camp conducted
by instructors from Geekbus, a program operated by SASTEMIC, a San Antonio
nonprofit organization that is an advocacy group for science, technology,
engineering and math.
“We try to get kids
interested or find out if they are already interested in the different STEM
areas,” Jason Culwell, SASTEMIC educational facilitator, said. “We focus on
things that are easy for us to teach and are the most engaging for the kids.”
Each day brought a different activity for the 8- to
13-year-old participants – 3-D printing on Monday, stop-motion animation on
Tuesday, robotics on Wednesday, computer programming and soldering on Thursday
and video game design on Friday.
Students also spent time on the Geekbus itself, a mobile
makerspace that came to the camp on Thursday. Inside the Geekbus are 3-D
printers, robotics, electronics and a variety of materials for students to use
in their STEM explorations.
“It’s a very hands-on experience for the kids,” Andrea
Black, JBSA-Youth Programs coordinator, said of the STEM-Maker Camp. “This is
the first time we’ve offered this camp; we’re starting to explore STEM more in
Davis Chancey, an 11-year-old sixth-grader, said he enrolled
in the camp because his mother thought it would be interesting. It turned out
she was right.
“I love it,” he said. “The best part was building a Lego
robot. You program them and tell them what to do. It’s fun.”
Davis also enjoyed learning soldering techniques to make
robot pins and looked forward to video game design on the last day of the camp.
“Video game design is my favorite,” he said. “I want to be a
Culwell said each activity helps students in a variety of
ways. He pointed to stop-motion animation as an example.
“It helps them with developing patience and gives them an
eye for the placement of things,” he said. “It helps with spatial orientation.”
Luke Survis, who is assigned to the 502nd Force Support
Squadron as part of the Career Broadener Program, said Geekbus’ educational
facilitators keep the camp lively and make it more challenging each day.
“The facilitators are doing a good job making it
entertaining for the kids,” he said. “Each day it takes more skill, and that
holds their attention better.”
Culwell said the summer camp and Geekbus activities during
the school year allow students to better understand STEM subject areas, but the
hands-on experiences also help them decide if they’re interested in pursuing
jobs in the technology sector.
“There are a lot of high-tech jobs out on the market not
being filled because we don’t have enough people with the right skills,” he
said. “We help them develop those skills. They’re the future, and if we don’t
have enough kids interested in STEM, they will grow up to be adults who aren’t
interested and there won’t be enough adults to keep the world running at the
level of technology we’re used to.”