Middle schoolers get creative, try out tech at ECU STEAM camp

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — In 2014, East Carolina University’s College of Art and Design held it’s first STEAM (Science Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) camp, which began as a relatively small operation

The camp has grown. This year, on day three of the camp, 100 middle schoolers filled the halls on the top floor of the ECU art center.

“I think it’s amazing,” said instructor John Bell. “They see that their work that they draw on the computer can all of a sudden become a piece of plastic, a three-dimensional object.”

Middle schoolers spent their days at a computer design and 3D printing workshop.

“It’s creative,” said Bell. “It’s really where the arts meet the sciences.”

The students are using design and technology to create DNA sequences at the camp.

“What they’re doing is color coating their models to fit their own eye color,” Bell said. “So if they have blue eyes, they will do blue eye color, brown eyes, they’re going to do brown.”

The experience is meant to be hands-on, and assistant instructor Nate Hasselbach said it gives students the “freedom to do what you want to do, instead of just following what the textbook says.”

Some students signed up to jumpstart their future careers.

“I can take what I have right now and apply it to the future,” said Kavius Payton, who attended the camp. “If I decide to take a career in engineering, I can get a head start now.”

“If you are talking about medical fields, engineering fields, various types of work, the world of work for these students are definitely going to involve uses of different types of technology and engineering capabilities,” Bell said.

The things they are learning now will help them in the future, and they will always have this d-n-a sequence to remind them how far they’ve come.

“As soon as I’m finished, and I apply the base to the template, I can print it,” said Payton. “Finally have something to take home and show to my parents.”

That’s just one of many classes offered at ECU’s STEAM Camp. Others include classes about electricity, ecosystems, Morse code and other forms of technology.

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