STEM camp gives students unique opportunities in the classroom

Rocket science is no longer for rocket scientists, but for students grades six through ten.

Through the Center of Integrative Natural Science and Mathematics program, students from the Northern Kentucky area have come together for three days to learn and explore concepts in physics and math at the NKU Aeronautics Camp. The camp focuses on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), allows the students to plan and construct a flight, as well as a rocket ship.

“We’re doing the engineering and we’re doing the math,” William Schenider, camp coordinator, said. “The experience that these students are getting, I didn’t get until I was well into my pilot training and I didn’t know how to do the math and the physics, but these guys and gal do.”

Along with the instructors of the camp, there are three high school students, who have gone through the same simulations that the students explore in the camp, who were specifically selected to help the instructors, as well as the younger students.

Colton Lang, a junior at Campbell County High School, applied to be a helper of the Aeronautics Camp after taking an Aeronautical Engineering course at school which was based on the principles of STEM.

“I’ve always been interested in airplanes,” Lang said. “This camp gives all the kids different opportunities, like if they want to be an aviator, a pilot, or an engineer.”

Each day the students build upon what they have learned. The first day learning the basics of aviation, the second with the Microsoft Flight Simulator system, all leading up to their launch of rockets on their final day.

“This camp is unlike anything I’ve ever done in a classroom before.,” Rutvij, a fourth grader in the camp said. “I’m looking forward to everything we’re learning.”

The goals of the program are to facilitate the recruitment, retention and graduation of STEM students, promote faculty scholarship and undergraduate research in STEM disciplines and enhance the teaching of science and mathematics.

According to Tom Edwards, professional pilot and co-instructor of the camp, believes that the knowledge gained in a classroom, such as math, physics and history, can be applied to everyday life.

“When a student is doing a difficult task and they say, ‘Oh! That’s how it’s done!’ It’s the realization that everything that you’re doing really does have a meaning.” Edwards said.