STEM Camp:Developing next-generation engineers


Getting up early during the summer break is a drag for some students.

But the “STEMulation” offered at one DoDDS summer camp had students leaping out of bed, and eager to see what the day had in store.

The RoboWarriors Robotics club hosted STEM Camp Aug. 5-9 for sixth- through ninth-graders to spread the good news of engineering.


The third iteration of the camp, tied into Department of Defense Education Activity’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math initiative, was a hands-on workshop that hosted 70 campers and was focused on engineering.

Photo by Chrystal SmithQuinn Davis uses a utility knife to make precise cutouts of wood for his glider project during STEM Camp Aug. 7 at Wiesbaden High School. The camp was one of two held by the RoboWarriors Robotics Club to enliven youth’s interests in engineering.

Photo by Chrystal Smith
Quinn Davis uses a utility knife to make precise cutouts of wood for his glider project during STEM Camp Aug. 7 at Wiesbaden High School. The camp was one of two held by the RoboWarriors Robotics Club to enliven youth’s interests in engineering.

“We are reaching into the middle school to stimulate their school’s STEM program,” said Frank Pendzich, Wiesbaden High School instructor of engineering and technology.

Every morning began with a teambuilding project that encouraged the students to work together to solve various problems.

Pendzich, said he wanted to expose the youths to the 10-step method of problem solving in hopes of triggering creativeness.

“Children are often taught to copy ideas. When you hear words and phrases like ‘I’m confused,’ ‘I don’t know what to do,’ ‘I don’t understand,’ it implies that one is in a copy mode and doesn’t really know how to tap into their creativity,” said Pendzich, adding that in industry its a usual step in completing engineering and design processes, even in making successful moon landings. “So you let them flounder and eventually they put pen to paper. It may not work, but at least they have gone through the process of problem solving.

“The sooner they learn it the better they will be able to apply it in everyday situations and future occupations.”

The club’s members filled the roles of camp instructors, getting an opportunity to practice their leadership skills.

The opportunity gave Zachary Cassou, soon-to-be senior, insight into his future career choices of teaching and engineering.

“There are so many different personalities at work here,” he said explaining that the types of designs are closely related to the varied personalities of the campgoers.

As the robotics club members were enjoying the chance to lead, the campers were eating up the multiple opportunities for problem solving, designing,building and testing multiple projects.

Harper Parker and Jack Love, soon-to-be sixth-graders, said getting up early was worth it.

“You get to make stuff, you’re learning, you get to work with material and tools you don’t usually,” said Parker.

When asked to choose between football and STEM camp the choice was easy for Quinn Davis, soon-to-be 10th-grader, who said his decision even surprised his mother.

“I like the hands-on part of this camp. It’s better than  many of the academic camps I’ve been too,” he said. “It’s fun, exciting and gets everyone involved.”

Photo by Chrystal SmithGuiliana Weiss works on details for the design of her lighter-than-air craft at STEM Camp Aug. 7.

Photo by Chrystal Smith
Guiliana Weiss works on details for the design of her lighter-than-air craft at STEM Camp Aug. 7.

Future scientist Clara Kuersten, soon-to-be seventh-grader, said she just wanted insight into the world of engineering.

“I don’t usually do stuff like this. I’m just doing it because I wanted to know a little more,” she said. “Knowledge is never bad.”

The exposure to engineering and science even inspired one to change her career aspirations.

Santy Dembele, soon-to-be sixth-grader said she no longer looks forward to becoming a professional athlete, now her sights are set on becoming an engineer. “I can build things. I want to build robots,” she said.

Learn more about the RoboWarriors and Wiesbaden High School Engineering Department at http://robo.eportalnow.at