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After learning about how birds fly, archery and airplanes, the rising sixth-graders in the “Science of Flight” Camp STEMtastic, held June 13-17 at Thomas University, built their own balsa wood airplanes and tested them.


TU holds third year of Camp STEMtastic

The Thomas University Division of Education held its third Camp STEMtastic this year. This year the same group of students, now rising eighth-graders, returned for the camp’s June 20-24 session with the theme “The Human Machine.”

Camp participants began the week by learning about the body as a simple machine through a visit to the nursing program at Southern Regional Technical College’s Thomasville campus and an interactive presentation with Andrew Smith from the Thomasville Karate Academy.

The rising eighth-graders also learned more about the human machine by completing low and high ropes challenge courses at the Florida State University REZ. Then they learned about the large complex machines that are used to cut down trees, and to remove and grind the stumps. The lessons into complex machines continued with visits to Flowers Foods and Hurst Boiler.

“We chose ‘The Human Machine’ because we wanted to focus on the roles that both simple and complex machines play in our everyday lives, whether it be from how our body can operate like a machine to how machines can help us work more efficiently,” said Jennifer Hamilton, a Camp STEMtastic coordinator. “Students were exposed to different professions, from nursing to tree service to manufacturing, all within their local communities. It was our hope that they could see how machines were used in everyday life.  Perhaps they might grow up and consider a profession they might have otherwise overlooked until they learned more about it during the camp.”

In addition to the third-year camp participants, a new group of rising sixth-graders also participated for the first time during the June 13-17 session with the theme “The Science of Flight.” Like the returning group, these students were nominated for the camp by a teacher based on their attitude and aptitude in the STEM areas of science, technology, engineering and math.

These students began with a presentation by Sandy Beck, a wildlife rehabilitation expert, who explained how the physical aspects of birds enable them to fly. Then students learned from an archery expert how to shoot crossbows while using a target to determine effectiveness.

On day three the rising sixth-graders learned about airplanes and how human flight is possible during a visit to the Thomasville Airport. The next day they visited the Challenger Learning Center in Tallahassee where the students learned about rocket construction. The camp participants also got to try their hands at operating a drone after learning about the remote-control aircrafts from Bruce Buckley with UAV Surveillance, Imaging and Consulting, LLC.

For the final day of camp, students visited the Tallahassee Museum where they completed a tree ropes course.

“Flight was selected as the first camp of the Camp STEMtastic series because humans have always been fascinated by flight,” said April Penton, a Camp STEMtastic coordinator. “The topic provided many opportunities to engage our eager learners in physical science, natural science, earth science, technology, math and engineering. We were able to utilize local resources to enhance our hands on experiences making it a remarkable week of learning.”

Funding for both sessions of Camp STEMtastic was made possible through donations from TU alumni and friends, the Rotary Club of Thomasville, the Thomasville Antiques Show Foundation and the Wilo-Foundation.

The Wilo-Foundation is the charitable arm of WILO SE, an international manufacturer of pumps and pumping systems based in Germany, with about 7,000 employees and 60 production and sales companies around the world, including a manufacturing location in Thomasville. Wilo-Foundation’s gift for Camp

STEMTastic marks the first time the foundation has made a donation to an organization in the United States.

“The financial support from these organizations demonstrates their commitment to the emphasis on expanding opportunities in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics for all children,” said Dr. Grady Enlow, TU Vice President for Institutional Advancement. “Without the help of these generous donors, Camp STEMtastic could not continue.”



“Science of Flight” Camp STEMtastic participants tried their hand at operating drones inside TU’s gymnasium.



Andrew Smith with Thomasville Karate Academy demonstrates how the human body’s machine-like functions can be used in martial arts during “The Human Machine” Camp STEMtatistic held June 20-24 at Thomas University.



After learning about how the human machine works, Camp STEMtastic participants then learned about more complex machines, including those used for cutting trees and grinding stumps.


Click here to view more photos from Camp STEMtastic.

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