HAMLET – On Saturday, October 21, students from Richmond, Scotland, and Marlboro counties came together for a STEAM camp at Richmond Community College. It has been known as the “RCC G.R.E.A.T. Academy,” which is an acronym for “globally ready engineering and technology.”
The camp is set up so that one Saturday a month students come to explore electrical and mechanical engineering activities as well as computer coding.
This is the second year the camp has been in session, and it has already more than tripled in student attendance. Last year, just nine students were enrolled, but this year, there are 42 students showing up for the camp every month.
Students from fourth grade all the way up through high school come together to work on college-level problems and tasks. There are always challenge problems toward the end of the day, but yet the students are still asking for more when it comes time to leave.
The students start their day off with a game of chess to aid them with strategic and critical thinking skills that will help as they move throughout the day.
Cordova Middle School eighth grade science teacher Jennifer Loving helps out with the camp and mentioned how rewarding the whole process is. This past Saturday, her groups worked on electrical engineering which is led by Mr. Terry. They solved circuit equations which involved voltage, resistance, and current. They continued on by creating an actual circuit which consisted of the three components from their problems.
“It was great to see the kids really connect that information to real-life, hands-on experiences,” Loving exclaimed. “It was rewarding to see a lightbulb come on for students who were a bit confused at the beginning of the morning.”
Chad Osborne, of Richmond County Schools, is one of the creators of this program alongside Jeff Epps. Osborne works in the mechanical engineering part of the camp, while Epps leads the computer programming session.
In the mechanical engineering group, students used a program called “3ds Max” which is a 3-D computer graphics program used to make 3-D animations, models, games and images which was developed and produced by Autodesk Media and Entertainment. With this program, students can manipulate geometric math.
“Mechanical engineering with 3ds Max is all about seeing and manipulating geometric math,” Osborne stated. “The objects around us are made up of math that we call geometry.
“We learn how to create simple objects, and then we learn how to create objects there are more complicated by manipulating the vertices of standard primitives,” he continued.
On Saturday, students used 3ds Max and learned about the basics and how to create objects using standard primitives.
The standard Primitives allowed students to create cones, cylinders, boxes, spheres, and more which led to the creation of 3-D snowmen, pencils, and even a set of weights.
Lakresha Sibley, an eighth grade science teacher at Hamlet Middle, and the 2015-2016 RCS teacher of the year, participated in the mechanical engineering session as well.
“No student knew how to operate any of the computer hardware or software before attending STEAM G.R.E.A.T Academy on Saturday,” Sibley stated. “Students were exposed to the soft skills they will need to be better readers, writers, and mathematicians.”
She continued by stating that she was overjoyed to see the excitement on the students faces as they, “jumped right in and worked at whatever was being presented in front of them until they achieved success.”
Osborne has set a goal for the next 3-D printing session in mechanical engineering, which is to be able to 3-D print a rocket.
The excitement the STEAM camp creates for the students is wonderful. By the end of the camps in April, every student will have been exposed to each topic provided, which will help steer Richmond County’s future leaders in a brighter direction.
Sibley was right when saying that, “classroom teachers, college instructors, and students are all working together to make STEAM magic happen.“