North Dakota’s Gateway to Science STEM Adventure Camp has been beyond beneficial for my children this summer in so many ways. My daughter, Aerianna, enjoyed the after-school STEM Adventure Club throughout the 2021-22 school year so very much. Every evening after attending, she would describe all the wonderful topics she had learned about and her younger brother, Ryker, would get excited to hear about what activities she participated in which always intrigued him. I was very happy and grateful to see that not only was there a summer STEM program that Aerianna (going into 5th grade during the school year 2022-23) could attend but to also be able to have Ryker (going into 1st grade) join in on the fun and learning all summer alongside her!
Some of the fantastic benefits I have seen for Aerianna and Ryker attending the Gateway to Science STEM Adventure Camp this summer are (but not limited to):
- INTRODUCED TO NEW TOPICS. They are learning about a variety of topics that they have had zero exposure to prior to this program. From observing microscopic creatures they just pulled from a pond on a nature adventure to experiencing the excitement of a flight simulator, the intellectually stimulating activities chosen for this program are well thought out and planned with the child’s interest and learning at the forefront.
- ENTHUSIASTIC AND KNOWLEDGEABLE STAFF. The friendly, enthusiastic, ambitious, and knowledgeable staff and guest speakers for this program help foster an environment where the children aren’t afraid to ask questions, make mistakes, and learn completely new perspectives of the world around them. Teaching at such varied grade levels each week can be challenging for a teacher, but it seems as though they are able to keep the material at a level to which each child (no matter their level of previous knowledge) can grasp the main concepts and put them into action.
- LEARNING REAL-WORLD SKILLS. They are laying the foundation for topics the children will need to know in future school subjects and classes at all grade levels. They are exposing them to real-world skills with various practical and well-planned hands-on activities that are interesting and fun yet helpful in everyday life.
- SLOWS SUMMER SLIDE. This summer camp program keeps challenging not only the children’s science skills over the summer helping them stay sharp, but also their reading, math, critical thinking, and social skills are being stimulated every day. This will set them up for a successful start to the next school year.
- INFORMAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENT. Also, in regard to Aerianna specifically (given her grade level), she has been able to absorb new subject matter without having the worry about needing to remember every detail of what is being taught to eventually be tested on it. This is a no-stress environment centered on what is most important for these age groups – keeping learning fun!
- INSPIRED TO EXPERIMENT AND CREATE AT HOME. They have had interests spiked in the program and inspired them to come up with creative activities at home such as making a solar-powered oven to cook the whole family s’mores for example – they were delicious! Also, they are much more in-tune with the world around them teaching me about the various facts they learned on their nature walks that relate to the trees we observe while camping. Their brains are continuously thinking about the world around them and contemplating how things work or why they are the way they are – the learning doesn’t stop when they leave the classroom.
- MEET AND WORK WITH NEW PEOPLE. With the group of children in this program being from other schools and having the same love for science, they have been making good friends every week. It is a valuable life skill to be able to work with new people and brainstorm various ideas together to come up with a solution to a problem or just discover new things together. They educate each other whether they are working independently beside one another or in a team. Their daily social interactions have broadened their circle of friends and taught them the importance of working respectfully together.
- SPARKS CONVERSATIONS. The topics board the teachers place out during child pick-up along with the photos taken during class placed on social media give me a good idea of what took place throughout their day in the program. These have been great tools to help spark conversations in the evenings between the three of us and we learn and teach one another and it has drawn us closer as a family too – the possibilities for discussions are endless.
In closing, Aerianna and Ryker have definitely blossomed in so many ways this summer – intellectually, physically, socially, and emotionally. They go to sleep pondering the things they saw and heard about in their world that day while I go to sleep knowing they made the most of their time creating all kinds of great memories. They wake up every morning excited for the adventures that await them while I start my day being grateful for the wonderful opportunities they have at Gateway to Science knowing the skills they are acquiring each and every day will be beneficial in their years to come!
~ Alexandria Gibbs