By Kashalah Robinson
AUGUSTA, Ga. — This summer, Augusta University will again host Kids University, its annual summer camp. This enriching and entertaining camp specializes in STEAM education, which create classrooms that integrate science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics concepts across disciplines into all lessons.
Dennis Dotterer, director of the Center for Innovation and Community Engagement, has worked to ensure this camp stands out from other student camps. The AU camp improves on the traditional STEAM model by originating the curriculum using experts from within the College of Education.
“What you see in many STEAM-related camps is that they base their curriculum off of consumer kits. But our professor of STEAM education, Dr. Ashley Gess, and other faculty members helped create student-centered activities that are about practical scenarios. The camp features interactive activities, but it’s about what the student is doing and how they engage with it that makes the difference,” Dotterer said.
The interactive camp allows students to work on actual real-world situations that affect the local community. Each week, students will participate in a different focus area while embedding all aspects of science, math, technology, and engineering with fine arts to create actual products.
For example, in one of the activities last summer, campers created dioramas of design ideas for the old Regency Mall property, including community spaces and health and wellness related spaces but with an educational focus, while the entire time examining the cost and environmental impact. It combined the art of design with the research and scientific understanding needed to redevelop urban spaces.
The environment of the camp is also different than other camps. Alicia Stephenson, instructional specialist for Columbia County Schools, has worked with Kids University for the last three years.
“The biggest difference between our camp and other STEAM-related camps is that ours is taught on a college campus. So our curriculum is created and taught by College of Education professors; science and art supplies and resources are just yards away; and this opens the door for countless opportunities. It provides a new avenues for student learning,” Stephenson said.
Julie Fergusan, director of development for the Southeastern Firefighters Burn Foundation, sent her daughter, Frannie, to Kids University last summer, and said it’s a great option for parents because of the welcoming environment.
“I knew my daughter was in good hands from the time I dropped her off to the time I picked her up. I loved the mix of staff and curriculum that made it fresh, fun and engaging. My daughter loved that she was encouraged to be creative and the integration of arts and science,” Fergusan said.
Registration for Kids University is now open. Students can be registered for all four weeks or specific weeks that cater to their interests. The deadline to register is May 4.
For more information, contact Dennis Dotterer at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit https://www.augusta.edu/pace/youth/kids-university.php.