Camp to focus on science, technology, engineering, math

URBANA — Students this summer can learn about designing and building bridges, the solar system, the human body and urban planning, among other topics, when the Urbana school district hosts its first summer camp on science, technology, engineering and math.

The summer camp, scheduled for Monday through Thursday, June 4 through June 14, will be for students entering first grade through eighth grade.

Students can participate in a morning class from 9 a.m. to noon, an afternoon class from 12:30-3 p.m., or both with a lunch in between. It will be at Urbana Middle School. Students should be able to begin enrolling in early March, either online, by mail or at the Jean F. Burkholder Administrative Service Center at 205 N. Race St., U.

The summer camp is primarily for Urbana students, said Alexis Jones, the Urbana school district's coordinator in staff development and curriculum. Out-of-district students can participate by paying an extra fee, she said.

Tina Lehr, STEM instructional coach at Urbana Middle School, who also coordinates STEM education throughout the district, said the summer camp is important for students.

"The focus on STEM education is becoming increasingly important," Lehr said. "There are many future jobs and ... reasons that society is going to need to depend on people who have a strong background in areas of STEM. There's a big push in education now to improve STEM teaching and learning and to really focus on that."

The camp will also showcase the talents of Urbana teachers, who have taught on similar topics during the summer outside the school district, Jones said.

Many of them have received professional development from the University of Illinois in its Entrepreneurial Leadership in STEM Teaching and Learning program. In the program, teachers commit to learning about how to teach STEM subjects throughout three summers, Lehr said.

Lehr said 16 Urbana teachers will be involved in that program this year.

Jones said Urbana teachers were eager to apply to teach at Urbana's STEM summer camp.

"The STEM approach has been very popular with our teachers," she said. "When we first mentioned this to them ... several teachers emailed back right away who were just so excited to use some of the things they've been learning in the last couple of years of professional development."

They're planning on using "cool technology and cool lesson plans," including about how to integrate things like music and photography with science and technology. The school district is hoping to offer 12 morning classes and 12 afternoon classes, Jones said.

She said the school district hopes to keep class sizes low, about 15 per class, and classes will be taught in grade bands, like from first through third grades, or second through fourth grades.

The summer camp will be paid for entirely by tuition.

Regular tuition is $175 for one morning or afternoon class for an Urbana student, Jones said. For an out-of-district student, that fee will be $225.

Those who qualify for reduced lunch will pay $75, she said, and those who qualify for free lunch will attend for free.

She said organizers looked into the prices for comparable summer programs, calculating the cost per hour and found them to be similar in cost to what Urbana will charge.

Jone said she believes students who participate will learn important things, but also things that will engage them.

"We're hoping to get Urbana students very excited about science and technology and engineering," Jones said. "I think it's really going to show off what Urbana is about."

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Mark Taylor wrote on February 20, 2012 at 1:02 pm

This this is why we need to get the government out of public education. Our precious gifts from God are being brainwashed to submit to the false religion of science. And pretty soon they end up praying to bowels of spaghetti and even putting spaghetti god idols on their car. I can tell you, whenever I see one of those on the road, I immediately swerve to another lane to get as far away as possible from them, even if I have to cut across a few lanes of other cars and pull over to the side for a few minutes.  It's just not safe driving near the cause you never know when they're going to get what's coming to them. 

cbrads334 wrote on February 21, 2012 at 7:02 am
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Are you joking?  Are you for real?

I think you need some psychiatric help if you really believe that nonsense you're spouting.  The FSM will be wearing a white coat.

Mr_JaPan wrote on February 20, 2012 at 2:02 pm

I prefer my bowels to be packed with vital organs, Mark, so science and biology can do their thing and help me maintain an earthly existence. Feel free to think what you want, but don't fault anyone else for being willing to spend their summer months teaching our children some tangible concepts about how our world works.

Besides, don't you think the Flying Spaghetti Monster is kind of cute? If the sight of FSM sickens you enough to derail your driving then please stay off the road. FSM was created as an elaborate and colorful joke. You almost sound like you belive FSM is a full-blown, legitimate religion or cult or whatever to even bother bringing it up as a supposed example of how our society is in a tailspin. Meaning, you don't know how to research before opening your mouth and making a claim. I rest my case.

Have a better one, friend.

Fromthearea wrote on February 20, 2012 at 7:02 pm

Thank you for allowing out of district students to enroll.  My son wanted to attend something like this last year but the only thing we found locally was "girls only".