You know you’re a middle level teacher when you credit the wonderful-ness of the past three weeks to being surrounded by 7th and 8th graders. Yes, you heard (read) me right. In the middle of the Michigan summer, I was not at the beach, camping out, or even tubing down the Chip River. Instead, I had the very fortunate experience of working with young adolescents at a STEAM camp the College of Education and Human Services sponsored here at Central Michigan University.
This academic camp, Camp Central, focused on the growth of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics in these young learners. Camp Central helped students look to the future, whether that be life after college or even college in general. Throughout the weeks, students engaged within their creativity in regards to math, science, and engineering. Students made goals of earning college degrees in these fields and making careers out of what they are most passionate about achievable!
Out of the many sessions that were offered to these students, I helped run the Fashion Merchandising and Design portion. Within this STEAM session, campers learned the sciences behind different textiles and why we wear what we wear! They explored the textile’s lab in the Engineering Building, where a one-of-a-kind mannequin, Norman, is used to measure sweat. Sweat! Norman is used to show engineers how different materials are affected in different environmental situations to better clothing design. Along with Norman, students were also to engage in thermography and learn about the different zones of their bodies. These were “thermal selfies” where campers were able to experiment with different objects to change the way the temperature from their bodies is displayed.
Another great part of running this session was being able to help out with Tie-Dye Chemistry. In this session, students were able to tie-dye a t-shirt and learn how the chemicals in the dye reacted with the cotton in the shirt. This was a really great experience to see how students used their creative skills to express themselves. Just like every tie-dye shirt, all students are different in their learning styles and who they are in general – which this was a great representation.
After these morning sessions, students then chose three out of five mini-sessions to attend. The mini-session I taught was called “Squishy Circuits”. In this mini session, campers experimented with conductive dough, insulator dough, battery packs, and lights to create sculptures to light up. Even with science not being one of my specialties – this was a really interesting thing to teach. I loved seeing their faces light up when, not only when the light bulb lit up in their dough, but the light bulb in their head as well! That’s why I want to teach, to see that “light bulb” moment.
Now with academics aside, being able to get to know these kids was a huge part of this experience. Throughout the weeks of this camp, I was able to get to know many of these campers and connect with them on another level. There were times where homesickness came into effect or energies were low. In these times of need, they needed to know that you can be their rock to lean on to get them through that next activity. I had a phenomenal time being able to joke around with the campers and see them bust a great dance move. Since the camp was divided into two waves, unfortunately we only had a few days with the campers each time. Even with the minimal interaction, I was able to make connections with these kids that I hope benefited them for life!
I love these moments in my life that reassure me I made the best decision of finding my place in the middle ❤