Postcards from smart camp
Raytheon helps kids explore science, technology, engineering and math
Students at some very special summer camps this year did something any parent would applaud: They got smarter.
“Growing up, I had no idea what kinds of cools things I could become,” said Kyla, a past participant in Applied Career Exploration camp. “This camp showed me real possibilities, taught me how to work with a team and act as a leader.”
Raytheon sponsored 20 such camps around the country, each promoting interest in science, technology, engineering and math - the subjects known collectively as STEM. Employee volunteers helped students explore physics, planetary mapping and algorithms to guide autonomous vehicles.
Beaver Works Summer Institute
Working with MIT instructors, students learned to program, fly and drive autonomous drones and race cars at this camp in Massachusetts. They also used artificial intelligence to build cognitive assistants.
The four-week STEM camp ended in a final race between teams.
“I don’t come from a background where my parents have gone to college, let alone attended a prestigious school like MIT,” said Syed, a student from Brooklyn, New York. “So what stood out to me most about Beaver Works Summer Institute was the fact that this program is available to any high school student not just across America, but across the world, regardless of background or experience.”
Hovering a ball in mid-air takes skill and a little bit of knowledge about Bernoulli’s principle. At the Mindbender Academy in Frisco, Texas, students spent ”Raytheon Day” building Bernoulli blowers and competing to score the most points by shooting ping pong balls into a basket.
“Initially, when my mom signed me up for the camp, I wasn’t excited to be there until Raytheon had us build and race balloon cars,” said Shayla, a former Mindbender student and now a student volunteer. “Once I started applying the principles Raytheon volunteers taught us, I got excited and competitive. I really wanted to win! I’d never realized how math and science is in everything."
Summer of Discovery
At the Space Foundation Discovery Center in Colorado Springs, Raytheon sponsored events called the Mars Mapping Experience, Pulley Physics and iMovie Productions. The most popular attraction was the Exoplanet Art Project. Students created and presented their own exoplanet with distinct physical characteristics, ecosystems and climates.
"We are inspiring the next generation of STEM professionals,” said Bryan DeBates, Space Foundation vice president of education. “And for many of the young people participating in our Summer of Discovery, this may be the one moment in time that inspires them to pursue a career in a STEM-related field."
Campers are immersed in teamwork and leadership skills in a simulated business environment where winning proposal teams designed and built robots. Raytheon gave campers GoPro cameras to capture their experiences while they learned how to build and design robotics to travel across land, in the air and underwater. The activities equipped students with modern knowledge and prepare them to be future space and research leaders.
“Our Robotics Camp is designed to help students explore the basics of building robotics,” said Anthony Greer, director of robotics at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. “It offers a creative experience that covers the first steps of coding and engineering, how things move, and how they’re put together.”
At two museums in Florida this summer, MathAlive! visitors tested how angles affected their ride in a snowboard race, designed and played a custom video game, captured 360-degree selfies, jumped into a fractal dance party and designed a custom skateboard. The exhibit housed 40 unique experiences that brought math and science to life.
“This exhibit showed kids they could be an astronaut, rocket scientist, musician or design video games,” said Jennifer Stancil, Glazer Children’s Museum president and CEO. “I hope kids took away that math is for them. It’s a radical thing that they should be studying and taking into their careers.”
Applied Career Exploration in STEM Camp
Raytheon teamed up with the Southern Arizona Research and Science and Engineering Foundation to sponsor a camp promoting STEM careers for middle school girls. The camp stressed teamwork, use of technology and hands-on learning.
“I especially became aware of electronics and forensics career opportunities,” said Chantal, a former ACES student. ”I really enjoyed working with peers and camp leaders that inspired me to pursue a career in the health field. I am at the University of Arizona now, and because of the camp being located here, I realized that this is the place where my career dreams will come true.”