Plumas County kids had an amazing time at the first Mountain Kids STEAM Summer Camp sponsored by FRC. The four-week daytime program provided enrichment learning in science, technology, engineering, art and math with help from several guest instructors and an FRC team of teachers and counselors that included (back row from left) Annalee Petroelje, Kd Laster, Brittney Ward, Courtney Wraa and Ashliegh Boyd who coordinated the camp. Photos submitted

Science, tech, art and more filled FRC’s fun STEAM summer camp

What do raw eggs, cardboard boxes, fresh soil and a comfortable pair of shoes have in common? They were all essential components of the fun and entertaining Mountain Kids STEAM Summer Camp held recently by Feather River College for local youngsters.

With sessions on physics (that’s where the eggs came in handy), gardening, structure building, water exploration and much more, the day camp ran four weeks at FRC’s Child Development Center.

Students even received a personal campus tour with FRC Superintendent-President Kevin Trutna, Ph.D., and they baked s’mores in the solar oven they built while learning engineering skills.

“Our STEAM day camp was a huge success and parents are asking for more next year,” said Ashliegh Boyd, a child development teacher at the center who coordinated this first Mountain Kids Camp.

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“Instilling a love of learning and an interest in education at a young age can work wonders in increasing a child’s motivation, providing them with a direction for their lives,” Boyd added.

STEAM is an interactive, educational approach to learning that uses science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics as access points to guide student inquiry. STEAM lessons focus on teamwork and create dialogues about these fascinating subjects. In many cases, they teach valuable life skills and stimulate critical thinking.

It only makes sense. For example, what better way to learn about the effects of weight, mass and structure than dropping raw eggs? Using storage boxes and other materials, the students built tall, wide and strong structures to understand how mankind created castles, bridges and more.

A swinging pendulum let the campers make unique paintings while they learned about the force of gravity. On nature hikes, they identified trees, plants and animals.

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With these experiments and others, the children were encouraged to use logic, critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

“STEAM learning helps children to ask questions, connect the dots, think creatively and be innovative,” Boyd said. “The Mountain Kids Summer Camp’s goal was to spark children’s interest in these areas and inspire them to learn and grow.”

She added that several instructors contributed to the camp’s successful program. Associate CDC Teacher Brittney Ward led classes and FRC students Kaylie Hodnett, Courtney Wraa and Kd Laster made up the team as camp counselors. Local student Annalee Petroelje also volunteered for the camp as part of her senior project.

Several visitors enriched the camp experience, too, by hosting activities and adding to the STEAM lessons.

– Ramsey Harvey taught the children about composting and helped with the CDC garden. Students learned about nutrition, the joy of growing food and being outdoors, effects of weather, water and insects and the responsibility of caring for plants.

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– Michelle Petroelje, FRC biology instructor, taught the older children about anatomy and took the younger students on a nature walk.

– Maurice Huynh with the U.S. Forest Service held a nature walk for the older group, identifying plants and trees. Together, the group performed some tree coring as well.

– Lindsey Kimzey taught the children lively exercise with Zumba.

– Deron Amos, also with U.S. Forest Service, taught the children engineering lessons.

“We were able to offer many, many STEAM-related activities to fill the days with fun and learning!” Boyd said. “Next year, we hope to have many more visitors.”