Middle School students were recently given the opportunity to participate in a 5-day STEP (Student Technology Exchange Program) Summer Camp which allowed them to explore engineering and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) concepts through a unique hands-on experience. The camp was held on the Lorman Campus of Alcorn State University and twenty-five 6th - 8th graders, along with seven teachers, from Warren Central Jr. High, Vicksburg Jr. High, Port Gibson Middle School, Robert Lewis Magnet School (Natchez), and Brookhaven Middle School participated in the event.
CAVS-E's STEP program was created in 2005 and designed to help high school students obtain the education and skills they need for in-demand jobs and create a pipeline for manufacturing employers, like Nissan, for high-demand, middle-skill positions. Entergy has been one of the largest supporters of the MSU STEP program, which offers high school level curriculum and middle school summer camps that focus on LEGO robotics. CAVS-E secured a $150,000 grant from Entergy Mississippi in 2016 to promote future growth of STEP using an industrial robotics program that provided improved educational opportunities for Mississippi high school students. The engineering day camps for Middle School Students were provided through a partnership between Mississippi State University's Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems - Extension, Entergy, and Alcorn State University.
The STEP summer camp offers basic engineering concepts, including structures, forces, motion, critical thinking skills, and problem solving skills. Students become involved in activities that encourage exploration, design, and problem solving, which also helps to improve test scores in math and science core components. During the camp, students learn the principles of the engineering concepts and assemble, design, and modify their own LEGO robots and Pullback Cars. Teachers engage in strategies related to each activity that provide resources to help support in their teaching of core components. Teachers also receive mentoring to help implement strategies used in the summer camp projects in their own classroom.
"Students and teachers were challenged and they made great progress with the STEM concepts being taught. The students look forward to performing all of the activities with their classmates during the upcoming school year," said Victor Branch, CAVS-E's Manager of Education Training and Digital Tools.
The Middle School summer camp is a logical extension to help fill High School classrooms in Career & Technical Programs. Students completing the STEP course learn automation and programmable logical control technology. STEP gives participants the fundamental understanding of advanced technology and helps them decide whether they want to pursue a middle-skills job or continue forward to study engineering at a four-year institution. Participants of the STEP course are also given the opportunity to complete an online FANUC Corporation certification, a national certification for robotics and advanced automation manufacturing.
For more information about the STEP for Middle Schools, visit: