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Kids can innovate at summer STEAM camp
STEM camp
Hilmar’s Elim Elementary 4th graders Matthew Brum and Aiden Machado practice the skills they learned during the STEM Engineering Camp hosted by the Dr. Sundar Math Center in April. - photo by File Photo

Kids can spend their summer building bridges, creating robots and imagining eco-friendly cities as part of the STEAM Innovators Camp, hosted by the Dr. Sundar Math Center and featuring lessons from the first female engineer to own her own firm.

“Children should be introduced to STEAM and these principles when they’re young and still excited about things,” said Dr. Viji Sundar, founder and president of DSMC and professor of mathematics at Stanislaus State. “We want kids to be able to turn their kitchen tables into engineering laboratories when they leave.”

STEAM, or Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics, allows children’s dreams to come to life through learning, said Sundar, providing an opportunity for children to construct buildings and other structures while questioning and understanding the principles of engineering.

The joy and the challenge will awaken their curiosity to know more about science and mathematics.
Dr. Viji Sundar

The STEAM Innovators Camp features three different weeks with three separate themes: Future City in 2158, 1-Way Trip 2 Mars and Green Innovations.

July 10 through 13, students can participate in the Future City in 2158 portion of the STEAM Innovators Camp, where participants will build structures like sky towers, suspension bridges, roller coasters and origami buildings.

July 17 through 20, the 1-Way Trip 2 Mars week of the camp will allow students to create rocket launchers, practice safe rocket landings, create their own Martian robots and code humanoids.

The camp’s final week, July 24 through 27, will teach students all about eco-friendly projects like recycling, redesigning and repurposing household items, natural resources and participants will even create their own portable water purification devices.

At the end of each week, students will utilize the “art” in STEAM by creating a t-shirt decorated with concepts that they have learned.

“The joy and the challenge will awaken their curiosity to know more about science and mathematics,” she said.

The camp is open to children ages 8-13 and will be taught by Sundar, who has 27 years of leading her own academic camps, and Rapunzel Amador-Lewis, a 20-year veteran in the engineering field.

Lewis serves as the President and Principal Engineer of her own engineering firm, Amador Lewis, Inc. She received the San Joaquin Engineering Council’s 2014 Distinguished Engineer of the Year Award, which recognized not only her performance as an engineer, but also her dedication to passing on her passion for engineering to younger generations.

Sundar hopes that both she and Lewis can inspire children — especially young girls — to consider engineering as a career.

“We want to change the way the community thinks about engineering,” Sundar said. “I want the kids to know that engineering goes into everything, even the water bottle they drink out of.

“There’s more engineering around us than anything else.”

Children get to take home the projects they make at camps, Sundar added, which will be made from household items that are inexpensive and easy to duplicate.

“There’s nothing alien about engineering, and we want to give students an awareness of engineering all around them,” Sundar said. “We want them to walk away with the feeling of, ‘Hey, I can do this.’”

The STEAM Innovators Camp will take place Tuesday through Friday from July 10 to 27, with each camp day beginning and 9:30 a.m. and ending at 12:30 p.m. at Hobby Lobby in Turlock, 3801 Countryside Dr. To register, visit