Over the last week, Delran High School has been holding its annual science, technology, engineering, art and math camp for children in third grade all the way up to seniors in high school. The camp allowed each age group to learn about a new topic, create projects and design art while simultaneously sparking their passion for STEAM.
The third-graders learned about different types of bridges and read a book called “Javier Builds a Bridge,” where they had to build their own bridge to help Javier in the book. The fourth-graders learned how to clean up oil spills and the human impact of these types of situations.
The fifth-graders learned how to create parachutes and conducted experiments with different types of material. According to the students, a coffee filter is a better material for a parachute than tissue paper and plastic. Lastly, the sixth-grade students conducted experiments on how to create the perfect modeling clay, while the seventh-graders and up learned about the process of “farm-to-fork.”
“Culinary and horticulture have teamed up for a week of STEAM,” said Delran High School horticulture teacher Aaron Flordimondo. “We’re doing a farm-to-fork experience. We’re going around the entire agriculture system with the science, technology, engineering, art and math, and we’re looking at how food is made and where it comes from.
“What goes into making it?” Flordimondo continued. “We’re getting to see where the food comes from and how it’s processed so that the kids aren’t confused when they see something on their plate and don’t know where it came from. We actually even went to a waste treatment plant to see the end result and how that is being turned into electricity. We’re doing a full circle of food, where it comes from, and our involvement in the process.”
On the last day of the STEAM camp, the seventh-graders turned their knowledge of where food comes from into a dish, creating sushi. The campers were able to meet and learn from a sushi culinary chef, which was something new the camp decided to do this year.
“The kids were very excited about it,” said Flordimondo. “Last year was our first year doing the farm-to-fork lesson and it has snowballed. The interest is definitely there. The kids are definitely interested in it. We saw what worked and didn’t work last year, and we kind of tweaked the system. Some of the changes that the STEAM camp made were including more of an involvement with the culinary specialist coming to the school.
“These are specialists whose only job is to make sushi,” said Flordimondo. “They came and talked about what they studied to become a chef, what was important, what their day-to-day was and all of the other components from their job.”
While the farm-to-fork experience was a hit with the seventh-grade and older group, the entire camp has grown since it began four years ago. According to STEM Coordinator Erica DeMichele, the camp has grown from 50 kids to about 200. The interest in the camp has grown so much that DiMichele has been asked to expand the camp to include second-graders.
“My take from STEAM Camp is that we want to put kids in positions to have real-world and real-life challenges.” said Superintendent Brian Brotschul. “We want to continue the great process that is made throughout the school year and continue it in the summer. We’ve been blessed with some great partners that have allowed students from not just in Delran, but all over the area that don’t have the opportunities that we have here. It’s really a testament to Erica DiMichele and Mary Jo Hutchinson’s hard work.”