The STEM-UP Department on the Utica Campus hosted its first annual Summer STEM Academic Integrated Learning Program June 6-17. The two-week program hosted juniors and seniors from local high schools with the intention of enhancing their knowledge of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
“This year’s theme was the Greenhouse Effect. Each group was given the task of studying and researching a specific plant, using greenhouses to grow them, and to present their findings at the end of the program. There was no rubric or outline given; they were just told to be creative,” said Dr. Noel Gardner, Natural Science Division Chair and STEM-UP Co-Principal Investigator.
Dr. Gardner helps a student prepare to plant seeds for his research.
Gardner hopes to keep the same program theme for several years. One purpose of these greenhouses is to bridge the gap between academic and technical education by combining STEM principles with teachings of electronics, to help greenhouses function. Another anticipation is that the greenhouses will be able to serve the community by providing healthier living by way of fruits and vegetables for residents of Utica and surrounding areas.
Teachers from local high schools were also selected as coaches for each research group. They were given the challenge not to guide students through their assignments, but to serve only as advisers, when needed. Utica Campus instructors were also involved in the program, teaching participants about specific STEM principles such as biology, computer science, math, chemistry, electronics and agriculture, all as they relate to greenhouses and growing plants.
Gerald Collins, electronics instructor, taught students about the programming of the greenhouses.
Students presented their research during the program’s closing ceremony. The red group were assigned cucumbers, the yellow group planted collard greens, the blue group conducted research on jalapeno peppers and the white group, tomatoes. Members of the audience were able to ask questions, testing each group’s knowledge of their research.
The white group was chosen as the best research presentation by judges.
The camp also served as a recruitment tool for the Utica Campus. “The students worked extremely hard over the past two weeks. I’m extremely proud of them, and hope to see them all enrolled as students on the Utica Campus in the next year or two,” said STEM-UP Program Coordinator, Johnathan Townes.