UMES campers aim for the sky
PRINCESS ANNE -- (July 27, 2012) -- Toting small rockets they had designed and made themselves, a group of middle schoolers hiked across the UMES campus Thursday morning and positioned them on launch pads in an empty field for the big test. Part of their task was not only building the rockets, but also making sure the "astronaut" on board -- an egg -- made it back in one piece.
"They had to calculate the likelihood of whether it will survive," said Brenda Dingwall, coordinator of this year's Reach for the Stars summer camp and equal opportunity specialist for NASA's Wallops Flight Center.
Since July 16, the students have learned about rocket and planetary science from engineers who work at NASA and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Most of them are interested in science and rocketry and said they would like to pursue careers in STEM disciplines -- science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- and all said they like camp.
"I love it," said Jeffrey Dumpson, a Wicomico Middle School student from Salisbury. "I wish it lasted forever."
Courtney Logan, a student at Pocomoke Middle School, said she took a summer class last year in which students made small scale rockets, but the Reach for the Stars camp allowed her to expand her knowledge.
"We get to launch bigger rockets with bigger motors that go further and faster," she said.
Emily McAllister of Snow Hill said the rockets are what attracted her to camp, too. "I really like designing the rockets," she said. "And the labs we do are really fun."
Amber Kite of Crisfield, who wants to be an engineer, and Katelyn Wells, of Snow Hill, both said the best thing about camp is meeting new people, which is also an important part of the camp experience, according to Dingwall.
Students attending the camp have lived on campus for the past two weeks, which is as important as their studies.
"A lot of these children and their parents have never been on a college campus," Dingwall said.
During their stays, students learn to visualize themselves as future college students, and they also learn to live and work together with new and different people, Dingwall said. The two-week program serves teens with disabilities, at-risk students and those who are gifted and talented.
Students from UMES' Rehabilitation Services Department have been working with the children with special needs. Started in 2007, the camp traditionally has been sponsored by UMES, NASA, Worcester County Economic Development and the TIME Foundation.
A grant from the Ronald McDonald House Charities arranged by Baxter Enterprises, franchisee for most McDonald's restaurants on Delmarva, has expanded the 2012 program.
By Liz Holland, Daily Times staff writer
This article from The Daily Times is reproduced here with the newspaper's permission.