Creating new camps for changing needs

Parker’s team listens to what the community is asking for, what industry is asking for and looks at trends at the university level to provide new camps that fulfill those needs.

“We are the conduit between industry, community, faculty, and students, and we listen to everyone and come up with a menu of camps that meets the needs of each audience and implement them throughout the summer,” Parker said.

Based on community demand, in 2017 the Summer Academy added more coding camps, including an intermediate level camp for students who wanted to continue on after taking the beginner class the previous year, or who already had a coding background elsewhere.

Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering lecturer Christina Carrasquilla hosted her own faculty-run camp after noticing the nationwide push to get girls into STEM. Her App Camp for Girls was added in 2016 after she noticed the community need for more STEM opportunities for female students.

“The Fulton Schools Summer Academy is an essential piece of outreach that makes higher education in STEM accessible to our community,” Carrasquilla said. “At App Camp for Girls, we present STEM curriculum from all aspects in respect to app making including coding, design and user experience.”

Fulton Schools faculty and students share their passion

For faculty, Fulton Schools Summer Academy camps are also a great opportunity to share the research they’re doing in their labs with the greater public, Parker said. Students come away with an interest or passion for that research topic and want to pursue it further, which is important for the vitality of the research and related academic programs.

Fulton Schools students also get involved in the Fulton Schools Summer Academy as camp counselors.

“Fulton Schools students provide mentorship to the students both from the curriculum they’re learning in the camp, but they also talk to students about what it’s like to be a college student at ASU, and serve as a role model for younger students so they can see themselves here at ASU or college in general.”

Local teachers lend their expertise

Phoenix-area school district teachers are brought in to teach camps not run by Fulton Schools faculty.

“We focus on teachers who understand and embrace design thinking, project-based learning and the importance of critical thinking and exploration,” Parker said. “We have teachers who come back year after year because they love what they do and it’s a great way for them to spend their summers.”

These instructors believe STEM is an important part of a child’s education, and excel at teaching students basic engineering skills in a hands-on way.

“STEM is going to drive what’s going to happen in the rest of the world,” Hood said. “All the different science and technology and engineering sides they’re going to have to learn will soon be basic skills everyone has to know, so being on the forefront of that is important for them to hit at now.”

Hood and other instructors also believe the camps are good at teaching students other skills necessary for their academic and careers success.

“I think the important thing about kids going to camp is not only the technical piece, but the social piece, the soft skills and the ability to meet new people, work with groups, collaborate with your neighbor and help each other,” said Kathy Wooton, computer lab electives teacher at Skyline High School in Mesa, Arizona.

Wooton and Erik Von Burg, Gifted and Talented Department Specialist at Mesa Public Schools and instructor of the FIRST LEGO League Introduction for Girls camp and other FLL camps, believe even the technical skills translate beyond engineering, science and technology careers.

“This type of STEM education can serve anyone because even if you decide not to go into any STEM fields, the types of logic you’re applying, the thought process skills and the problem solving skills apply everywhere,” Von Burg said. “They’re universal in my book.”

Not only is the Fulton Schools Summer Academy a learning experience for students, instructors also believe they learn a lot at camp.

“These camps help me as much as they help the kids,” Wooton said. “It’s funny to me when a child says ‘Mrs. Wooton, why are you teaching us this the hard way?’ and I am very quick to say, ‘Well, why don’t you show me the easy way?’ Then they show me and everybody learns and we all have a good time.”

Registration for the 2018 Fulton Schools Summer Academy camps will open in February 2018.

Monique Clement

Communications specialist, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering