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Learning curve
Stafford students embrace summer school
stafford kids courtesy
WHIZ KIDS Give the students some cardboard and wires and heres what you get. Stafford USD 349 students, from left, Bryant Burns, Makayla Sedore, Toby Woolf, Emma Strobel, Marshall Woolf, Emily Green, Lydia Johnson and Mariah Burgey, participate in a STEAMmaker camp at ESSDACK in Hutchinson. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

Students learn their lessons

HUTCHINSON — STEAMmaker Camp started slowly and gained momentum, according to specialist Ginger Lewman.
“After the first day of STEAMmaker Camp, after we’d helped the kids find their way around this new modern learning environment with challenges, after they learned they didn’t have to ask permission to get a drink, we asked them to make a list of things they’d learned that day.
“After one day, these are some pretty powerful lessons,” Lewman said. “They were taking their first tentative steps in the grass and sniffing the air.
“Over the next four days, we continued to introduce more experiences and more thinking. We asked kids to practice their new lessons. We intentionally created situations where they ‘accidentally’ learned lessons and had to problem-solve ways to overcome the obstacles — all while having a boat-load of fun!”
Here’s that first-day list:
• Slope and incline are important in building a rubber band car.
• Measure twice; cut once.
• Understand how a 3D printer works.
• Learned how to hand sew and machine sew.
• We can make paper with paper.
• Learning how to navigate a MacBook (we know PC).
• Learned a LOT about Sketchup.
• Sharing is very important.
• Teamwork helps!
• We have to get out of our comfort zones.
• I can be a better leader by letting go.
• There are way more electronics than just Apple.
• Divide and conquer.
• Making paper is easy.
• Take your time and don’t rush.
• Failing is good.
• It doesn’t always come out right the first time and we have to break down our thoughts in steps.
• We can fix our mistakes.
• It doesn’t always come out the right way the first time.
• We practiced problem-solving, patience, and how to have fun and learn at the same time.
• We are working more as a team.
• We can have fun while we’re working.
• Looks (aesthetics?) are important.
• Learned to accept failure and rethink.
• You can’t fix a mistake without knowing what the mistake is.
• You can’t always use the materials you want.
• You can’t always get what you want.
• You can’t always have the time you want to so you have to improvise.
• Patience is very important.
• Listen first. Do later.
• How to use MaKey MaKey and littleBits.
• Learned what a strandbeest is.
• Never give up.
• You can make a banana piano with electricity.
• It’s difficult to cut foam board.
• Have a plan and a prototype before you start.
• Measurements are important.
• Being specific helps.
• We need to work on working together.
• Learn from our mistakes and fix them.
• It doesn’t work every time.
• We can break down our thoughts into reality.
• We can make mistakes.

HUTCHINSON — Just like most things these days, summer school has changed.
What used to be an exercise in credit recovery has transformed into accelerated learning for intuitive students with an interest in math and science.
Stafford USD 349 students were actively engaged in learning outside the classroom during a recent STEAMmaker camp at ESSDACK.   STEAMmaker stands for Science, Tinkering, Engineering, Aesthetics and Mathematics.
“Maker education is a movement to have kids building things. We want campers who are risk-takers, hands-on tinkerers, who have experimenting and building in their blood,” said Ginger Lewman, ESSDACK specialist. “We want campers who are willing to think and learn differently than the typical kid.”
Stafford students who participated were Mariah Burgey, Bryant Burns, Emily Green, Lydia Johnson, Makayla Sedore, Emma Strobel, Marshall Woolf and Toby Woolf.
The students worked with 3D printers and designed 3D images in chalk. They brainstormed with robotics and circuitry. They built a torsion drum and designed a rubberband car. They worked with wearable technology, textiles and paper and music making. “This is not how I learned. I’ve been doing this for 30 years and it’s fun to see the students get excited,” said Carolyn Poole, Stafford teacher. “We had a really hard time getting them to leave in the evening.”
Carianne Short, ESSDACK specialist said students enjoy the hands-on learning environment unlike their traditional school classroom.
“We want artists and performers,” Short said. “We want campers who could change the world, if only they were given a chance.
“Students become true learners,’ she said. “They get to think, ideate, prototype, test, and publish answers to challenges, as well as work on self-designed challenges, all while fostering a sense of independence and joy in learning.”
Stafford teachers Poole and Katie Minks guided the students during the week-long camp.
“They are not afraid to try stuff,” Poole said. “They look at this as an opportunity to do something different.  I want them to know how math, reading and science are part of life, not just school.
“In science, they have a problem and need to know how to solve it. They can create something. They have to do the thinking. We are not feeding them answers.”
Eighth-grader Emma Strobel said she enjoys being an active learner. She liked the hands-on work rather than the tedious nature of doing worksheets.
“I like that they don’t give you any answers here,” she said. “They make you figure it out on your own. You get to explore different things. You’re not watching someone else build something. What makes it interesting is you are doing things yourself.”
Strobel said good students like to be challenged too.
“It gives you better skills working through things and not giving up. You develop better social and speaking skills. Working together isn’t really a problem. You know everybody at a small school.”
Sixth-grader Toby Woolf works with iPads and computers at Stafford. He likes science.
“I like the 3D printer because you get to make your own creation for free,” Woolf said. “I made a World War II boat from D-Day. You go to sketch-up and create it. You email it. Then you print it.”
Toby said he likes learning things through technology rather than the slower pace in school.
“Here, things are on the iPad and you’re learning how to do something. There’s no problems with any kids in here. “We’ve learned to work together really good. This will help in school next year.”
Poole witnessed one student who wouldn’t try things because they were scared to fail, blossom through the interactive program.
“Now, that student is jumping at opportunities,” she said. “They are very successful at this and are so excited about learning. They are focusing on the task.”
Toby Woolf said he was happy with the experience.
“My mom has been to ESSDACK and she saw a lot of fun learning going on here,” he said. “It’s been more fun than I thought.”
Poole said the students learn skills they need to be successful.
“This is the real world. I see students communicating with each other,” she said. “This goes well beyond the classroom and the textbook. If you have a problem, you sit down and solve it. You use the resources you have available.”
The STEAMmaker camp offers an opportunity to expand the teaching and learning skills.
Poole said Stafford USD 349 students are fortunate because students are accustomed to using technology. She hopes to get other teachers and students on board with some of the innovative teaching methods.
“You can find ways to take a topic and connect that with culture and history,” Poole said. “We’re hoping to take these students and set them up to work with our other students. We’ll see what you can do.”