From Sunday through Wednesday this week, 50 seventh grade students are experiencing life on a college campus while diving into science, technology, engineering and math activities. Central Michigan University’s first-ever Camp Central for College Candidates is helping to spark interest in both college and careers in the STEM disciplines.
With no cost to their families or schools to attend, the students arrived on campus Sunday from the Holly Academy, the International Academy of Flint, the Linden Charter Academy and Woodland Park Academy. All are charter schools authorized by CMU.
“The transition from sixth to seventh grade is a critical time for students in terms of their hopes and dreams for the future, especially as it’s related to careers and college,” said Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson, dean of the College of Education and Human Services. “Camp Central has reached out to communities and invited students to campus. We want to help these seventh graders experience a preview of life as college students at CMU or somewhere else.”
CMU staff, faculty and teacher education students helped deliver the STEM learning with a decidedly fun focus. The campers participated in hands-on classes that explored music engineering technology, windmills, rockets and more.
“We were deliberate in our choice of STEM as a focus to the program,” Pehrsson said. “For the students attending Camp Central, their future careers may depend on knowledge of the STEM fields.”
Leadership and team building activities also were stressed as students got to know students from other schools. One game paired kids from different schools in a contest to see who could learn the most about someone else. They also had a chance for fun in the Student Activity Center, went rock climbing in Finch Fieldhouse, watched outdoor movies, explored campus, and stayed and ate in CMU’s residence halls.
Camp Central Director Mary Henley, also is director of CMU’s GEAR UP, said the camp has exceeded her expectations.
“The students are motivated and excited, and there’s learning taking place on all levels, from the campers to the CMU students to the faculty and staff,” Henley said.
Henley asked Camille Floyd, a senior in sociology with a youth studies major, to be the lead student counselor. Involved with CMU’s GEAR UP program since she was in the seventh grade herself, Floyd saw Camp Central as an opportunity to give something back.
“I’m seeing a lot of excitement about STEM,” Floyd said. “Since these kids are from charter schools it doesn’t take them long to catch on.”