Motoring: Engineers Donald Marwick and Michael Sinclair work on a motorized vehicle made out of Legos. *Photo by Don Burgess
Motoring: Engineers Donald Marwick and Michael Sinclair work on a motorized vehicle made out of Legos. *Photo by Don Burgess

This isn’t your typical summer camp.

The Ascendant Group is sponsoring the STEM Summer Camp (Science Technology Engineering Maths) for students age 12-15.

Michael Sinclair, engineer for Ascendant, told the Bermuda Sun, the camp is to help “stimulate their brains” and to get them thinking about the STEM subjects as a possible career choice.

Part of the core curriculum is Lego robotics but the students will also learn the fundamentals of web site development.

He said: “In future years we could have Google Sketch Up, 3D modeling and 3D printing.”

Susan McGrath-Smith, Corporate communications officer at Ascendant, added: “We decided to target that age group because those kids haven’t made their career decisions yet whereas high school students are probably on a track already.”

Jocene Wade-Harmon, VP, Human resources for the company, said: “The reason why we moved towards STEM is we recognize there is an aging workforce. One of the best things we could do as a recruitment strategy was to develop our own people.”

As part of the initiative, Ascendant benchmarked the Preston Middle School in Colorado to learn from. John Howe from Preston will be on hand to help with the initial programme here in Bermuda. His school started with 25 students in its STEM programme in 2006 and had grown it to over 900 by 2010. 

Ms Wade-Harmon added: “It was exciting. It was absolutely amazing to see the kids. They were walking the corridors with all kinds of different instruments demonstrating the projects they worked on.”

She said one of those projects included a helicopter that made out of popsicle sticks which was able to be launched with elastic bands. Ms Harmon-Wade said this will helpful produce an even deeper love of the STEM subjects.

“How are we going to save our world? We need to start getting our young people to think about it. We need them to do it from an environmental perspective, an engineering perspective — those are the kinds of things that will be huge.”

Engineer Donald Marwick said: “Technology has advanced so much when we were 12 to 15. This type of LEGO robotics wasn’t around or wasn’t near this state. It was much more difficult to get into programming and all other types of fields of science. The information wasn’t available and the resources aren’t what they are now so I’m really excited about being able to help bring that to a new generation.”

Nadir Wade said: “I have to agree with Donald. When we were young there was a big gap from where we were and where we wanted to be in terms of engineering and this helps fill the gap. If we can give the kids an opportunity to see what’s out there at a fairly young age, even if they don’t choose this as a career, at least they know it’s an option out there. This puts it in front of them.”