Camp inspires students to “Reach for the Stars”
PRINCESS ANNE, MD-(July 19, 2012)Area middle school students are learning about robotics, earth science and green technology from engineers who work at NASA and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore at the sixth annual “Reach for the Stars” summer camp.
Brett Kim, a freshman at Stephen Decatur High School, is getting a feel for some of the challenges scientists face. Kim and fellow budding scientists are building a smaller version of a rocket they will launch for their final project. “It has to keep an egg (representing the astronaut) safe and still be able to fly,” Kim said. “It’s complicated and takes a lot of time and patience. Nothing works the first time.”
"The students build these test rockets (from plans) to develop skills for their larger rockets,” said Brenda Dingwall, camp coordinator and equal opportunity specialist for NASA’s Wallops Flight Center. Next time, she said, the students will design their own rockets to launch. “Hopefully, the astronaut will come back in one piece.”
The two-week program, which began July 16, encourages students to pursue higher education and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics—STEM disciplines. The camp serves teens with disabilities, at-risk students and those who are gifted and talented. Students from UMES’ Rehabilitation Services Department are able to apply their skills working with the children with special needs.
This is the first time that most of the campers have been on a college campus, Dingwall said. “The reason we do it (the camp) at the university is so that students see themselves as science and engineering students. It opens up a new world to them.”
Zainab Mirza, from Ocean City, is enjoying the experience. “I love the camp, the counselors, meeting new people and the whole experience of being at college learning new things.”
Started in 2007, the camp traditionally has been sponsored by UMES, NASA, Worcester County Economic Development and the TIME Foundation. A generous grant from the Ronald McDonald House Charities arranged by Baxter Enterprises, franchisee for most McDonald’s restaurants on Delmarva, has expanded the 2012 program.
Gail Stephens, assistant director, UMES Office of Public Relations, 410-651-7580, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bill Robinson, director, UMES Office of Public Relations, 410-621-2355, email@example.com.