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."