Virtual STEM Camp Review 2020

STEM Camp Review 2020

Our virtual summer STEM Camps recently concluded with a total of 552 participants in 19 topics over 60 different sessions.

micro:bit, Scratch, VEX Robotics, Fabrication and Cybersecurity camps (with varying topics) were offered from June until August. Participants included K-12 students who were taught by NOVA Faculty and staff, High School Instructors and College Interns, eager to pass along their love and knowledge of STEM in a challenging and fledgling remote format. The show must go on, and indeed it did effectively to keep students engaged in STEM from the safety of home.

One major positive development with this year’s virtual camps was their reach. In our own commonwealth, virtual camps extended beyond the NOVA service area down to Newport News (in partnership with Brooks Crossing Innovation and Opportunity Center, or BCIOC) and caught the attention of Dr. Mia D. Joe of Old Dominion University, who helped BCIOC make a transition to remote learning by adapting our camp modules.

Beyond that, we were able to instruct students from 12 states (VA, DC, CA, CO, CT, FL, GA, IL, MD, NC, NY, PA, and SC)!

Camps were more affordable for many reasons, but mainly because they were offered per household instead of per student. We had 552 attendees with 297 unique registrations, 67% male and 33% female. When it came to earlier STEM engagement in Coding, the breakdown was 60% male and 40% female.

We even had a surgical-robot naming contest (in partnership with OrthoVirginia) for students in our robotics camps. The MAKO Robotic-Arm Assisted Robot assists on knee operations and after all submissions were in, the surgical staff at OrthoVirginia chose a name submitted by robotics camp student Nathan Tang (with assistance from his friend Micah): R2-Knee2 (read about that story here). Nathan, a future Biomedical Engineer, got to meet the robot and the surgical staff as well as winning prizes that included 4 tickets to a DC United game (when it’s safe, of course).

Parent Reviews:

At first, students and parents were a little concerned about how online learning would work out, but our staff worked hard to adjust the learning modules for an engaging remote format that proved effective. A few reviews from parents:

    • “Collette LOVED this camp and we will sign her up for one of the ones you list below, too. Thank you – I thought “virtual camp” would be a drag for her, but it was wonderful!” – Bridgette Farrell
    • “Thank you for the update and warning about managing my daughter Logan’s expectations.  She seems very interested and engaged in this class.  So much so that she has requested her own 3D printer 🙂  I am delighted that the class is going so well and that the program was able to pivot so effectively to virtual classes.” – Elizabeth Fry
    • “The boys have been enjoying camp this week! They were able to complete their cool emoji pins this afternoon and we have uploaded their files to Canvas. Thanks for having so much patience guiding the kids through unfamiliar software and tools. The boys have been playing around with the programs and hope to use it more!” – Laura G
    • “I don’t think we could have asked for a better teacher! The instructor was great and really attentive to her class. I was in the background listening to the lessons while I worked and most of the time everyone was following along with her. She explained things well and would stop periodically to make sure everyone understood/ everyone was on the same page. For my child this was a big deal and because she did this frequently he was able to catch up and eventually became more confident in asking questions or saying when he needed help. I think an individuals comfort with asking questions is huge predictor in whether or not virtual learning will be successful or not because it’s easy to get lost with coding and not always so easy for an instructor to help you. She (Ms. Lisbeth) did a great job.” – Parent of Virtual Coding Camp student (via SurveyMonkey)
    • “It was amazing. He was completely engaged every day for two straight weeks. And with two working parents – we did not have to supervise or run logistics for him. We were really lucky to have this!” – Parent of Virtual Camp student (via SurveyMonkey)

Student Reviews:

    • “Honestly it was really cool! I really enjoyed the brute force exercise. I know this is not the ideal way to teach but I’ve really been enjoying this week! Cryptography is definitely something I might consider looking into as a career!” – Valerie
    • “I learned how to use the John the Ripper program which i found very interesting. I also found the birthday paradox interesting and the fact that it could be used to find collisions. I enjoyed the lab and would like to do more.” – Kathleen
    • “I liked the lab it taught me a lot of information, I found how fast the john ripper attack was and how many different options it used before it got to the correct answer so quickly. I liked the lab and would like to do more.” – John
    • “I liked using EXIF data to find out where an image was posted, and learning how to do so. – Ethan W.
    • “Great lesson! I liked learning about exif data and learned that it can be used as factual evidence, if need be. Nothing to be improved, great experience.” – Kevin
    • “I liked the brute-force lab, I thought it was fun and interesting. I learned about the birthday paradox and thought it was very interesting that it was used when thinking about finding passwords and eventually resulted in security being improved. ” – Andrew
    • “My experience today was very nice! I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. (I mean no disrespect by that, by the way XD). I liked how concise the lecture was, not a lot of fluff * I learned what social engineering was” – Camp Student
    • “The teaching style was great, it included us all and helped me learn easier than just speeding through the information! I really liked this class, and i hope i encounter similar teachers in the future :). thank you for giving me something fun and interesting to do over this summer!” – Camp Student
    • “I really loved it and it helped me figure out a very possible career choice for me” – Camp Student