Students explore science, math, and engineering at UK STEM Camp

Three Knox County rising sixth graders were among seventy students from across the state to “See Blue” at the University of Kentucky STEM Camp held June 3-7 in Lexington.

Central Elementary’s Cooper Collins, Brayden Roark, and Delaney Sowders participated in hands-on activities that offered them a peek into the world of STEM including neurobiology, astronomy, and the opportunity to work with LEGO robotics, which included building and programming their own robots.  The projects had real world applications, which showed students what a career in the STEM field might entail.

Margaret Mohr-Schroeder, associate professor of mathematics education and camp instructor, said in a recent interview “our hope is that these students’ interests in STEM fields will continue to grow and that they eventually choose a STEM field after high school graduation.”

Schroeder posted entries on her blog throughout the week detailing the activities that students participated in during camp.

  • On Monday students started building their robots to prepare for the many robotic challenges that would be posed throughout the week.   According to Schroeder, “they had to program their robots to drive up to a figure but not knock it over” during a distance challenge.
  • Day two of camp consisted of Ms. Carolyn Crowdus, a graduate student in the College of Medicine, bringing real human brains and a spinal column to help students understand more about neuroscience.   Students continued working on their robotics by beginning basic programming including turns and movements.
  • On Wednesday campers experimented with the five senses using fruit flies – looking at how they function in various conditions. The students collected data on mouth movements of the larvae and other data regarding the sense using the lab microscopes. They also completed experiments involving their own neurobiology and the five senses.
  • Day four of the camp included a visit by Dr. Cindy Jong, from the Dept of STEM Education,  challenging the students to see mathematics in everyday life through a bridge activity and then furthered the exploration with origami. In robotics, the campers focused the “Green City Challenge”, which was designed to promote engineering concepts to solve problems.  Students worked on starting a windmill for their city, placing a solar panel on a rooftop, and tearing down a dirty smoke stack and replacing it with a clean one.
  • On the last day of STEM camp students were busy investigating sustainable solutions and dreaming up big ideas.   They competed in mini-competitions in robotics with their “Green City Challenge” and were challenged to brainstorm a dream sustainable project using design thinking.

“The partnership between the College of Education, College of Engineering, and the P20 Innovation Lab allowed for students to experience STEM in a fun and exciting college atmosphere”, said Schroeder in a press release from the University.

Students interested in participating in the camp during the summer of 2014 may visit the University of Kentucky See Blue STEM Camp website at  To read more about the activities that students participated in, visit Schroeder’s blog at