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Summer not Stopping Academic Growth Through IC SuperSTEM Camps

Student worker helping teach Cybersecurity at Northrop Grumman Camp.

Spending hot days at the pool, attending baseball games, and going camping are a few typical summer activities that students might engage in. However, SuperSTEM Camp enrollees are anything but typical. These students spend their summer working with robots, building code, programming circuit boards, visiting the University of Colorado Boulder, and learning about how artificial intelligence functions.

The Innovation Center of St. Vrain Valley Schools hosts SuperSTEM Camps throughout the summer, engaging students in hands-on experiences with STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) topics. This year’s camps were attended by 432 elementary and middle school students, as well as 99 high schoolers. The June camps have seen participants conduct bioscience experiments, explore artificial intelligence, design their own airplanes, learn about sustainable business practices, and practice drone videography. These activities were just the start of summer learning experiences for SuperSTEM Camp enrollees.

Partnering with both the University of Colorado Boulder and Northrop Grumman, some students in the July SuperSTEM Camp have also been introduced to the fundamentals of Cybersecurity or challenged to take their Cybersecurity prowess to the next level in an advanced group. Others have explored the foundations of machine learning and the different applications of machine learning models, and some students have even worked with robots to research how they can be used to better our planet. These experiences encourage students to continue pushing the limits of their educational growth, even during the summer.

“The Innovation Center just finished its eighth year as a program. We have been doing SuperSTEM since the end of our first year during the summer of 2015, which we held at our previous site at the Career Elevation and Technology Center (CETC),” says Axel Reitzig, Innovation Center Executive Director. “Summer and extracurricular engagement is a huge part of our district’s success and we’re pleased to be able to contribute to this through our programs.” 

During the last camp of the summer, the AMD PYNQ Board Bootcamp, students used AMD-Xilinx embedded platforms and the Python programming language to explore smart and sustainable farming practices. Students have been collecting, organizing, and displaying data relevant to plant health and crop yield, hearing from industry experts on how technology is informing and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of seeding, monitoring of plant health, and harvesting, and using electrical components in conjunction with basic Python to create self-driven projects within small teams. These projects are highly relevant to the modern world and keep students’ problem-solving and critical thinking skills sharp.  

“This is an amazing camp for people who like technology because it goes further than just programming,” says eighth grade student, Daniel Goodman, who was participating in his second year at the PYNQ camp. “We get hands-on experience with circuit boards, and use our programming experience to create unique projects.” 

The Innovation Center is already looking ahead to next summer where they will continue to expand these opportunities to further maximize hands-on learning experiences and challenge students to think critically and creatively. 

“We also offer various extensions during the year through our support of extracurricular programs like our district VEX Robotics or our Cyberpatriots programs,” says Reitzig.” Additionally, we offer special opportunities during the year like our Code Zone Challenge for middle school students.”

St. Vrain Valley Schools seeks to engage students in problem-solving while staying on the forefront of utilizing technology in education, and SuperSTEM camps are just one of the many opportunities students are afforded. 

To learn more about SuperSTEM camps and the Innovation Center’s other program offerings, please visit: https://innovation.svvsd.org.

Innovation Center of St. Vrain Valley Schools