August 4, 2020

Wayne State hosts virtual STEM camp with Department of Defense

Wayne State University has partnered with the Department of Defense to offer a virtual STEM camp for underrepresented students from the Great Lakes region and Tribal Nations. The camp is conducted by the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) Ground Vehicle System Center (GVSC) — located in Warren, MI.

Two sessions of the two-day camp will be held for students in the sixth to eighth grades. The first ran on July 28 and 30, and the second session will be held on Aug. 4 and 6. More than 60 students will participate in the virtual program between the two sessions.

Traditionally held on location across several tribal communities in Michigan’s lower and upper peninsula, camps would occur multiple times throughout the summer months. This year, camp participants will join virtually via Zoom during the abbreviated sessions. More than seven Tribal Nations will be having students attend these virtual camps.

In order to ensure internet safety and data security for all parties, Wayne State provided all participants with a personalized access ID number and unlimited access to Zoom. This is the 10th year the camp will be running.

As the host institution, Wayne State has the opportunity to showcase the many university resources available to the camp participants, as well connect the students to a variety of institutions that want to create more opportunities and carve new avenues for historically marginalized populations. The camp’s DoD STEM coordinator, Greg Chappelle (CCDC GVSC), is determined to inspire students toward a future that includes higher education and parlays into a professional STEM career. The collaboration with so many establishments and representatives is Chappelle’s brainchild, and speaks to the camp’s mission to serve as a window to opportunity for the participating students.

“We hope to spark that flame for these students to seek out additional STEM-immersive activities, which could then propel them into a career in STEM. It’s really exciting that Wayne State serves as the bridge to help these students nurture their interests, and hopefully show them a glimpse of what their future could look like,” said Theresa Ramirez-Zipser, Wayne State’s STEM engagement coordinator.

The classes include discussions and demonstrations on subjects such as physics, astronomy, mathematics, robotics and electromagnetism. Students will take a pre- and post-camp assessment and complete assignments on the off-day between the scheduled days of the camp. DoD STEM K-12 Teachers Nicole Ames-Powell (Mathematics), Grayling Mercer (Physics and Astronomy and Hoffman Planetarium Director) and Michael Frantsen (Technology) are providing the DoD STEM K-12 lessons with assignments taught during these camps.

Each session has a full daily agenda. Comprised of STEM classes — with various STEM talks in between — participants will hear from distinguished individuals from Wayne State University, Harvard, NASA Research Center at Lewis Field, Notre Dame, University of Windsor, Michigan

Technological University, Michigan State University, Lake Superior State University, Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College, City College of New York and the U.S. Army JROTC program out of Cass Technical High School.

This virtual STEM camp is an investment into the community for Wayne State and the many contributing institutions. Through the partnership with the Department of Defense, Wayne State can provide exposure to STEM-based learning for underserved and underrepresented k-12 students around Michigan.