The inaugural Verizon Innovative Learning (VIL) Summer STEM Camp, hosted at Paradise Valley Community College, was a success. After being postponed for a year due to COVID-19, the three-week camp created a memorable experience for more than 50 middle schoolers from the Paradise Valley Unified School District.
“The high level of camper engagement and the attention and passion demonstrated by our faculty, student leaders, and guest presenters was incredible,” said PVCC President Dr. Paul Dale. “I look forward to seeing the program continue throughout the Fall.”
Students were able to explore a variety of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) areas, including artificial intelligence, augmented reality, robotics, design thinking, and leadership development. The students will continue to meet the second Saturday of each month through the 2021-2022 academic year, working on a project of their choice, in addition to other activities planned.
“I was amazed by the creativity of the young campers,” said PVCC English Professor Lynn McClelland, who taught the augmented reality and virtual reality portions of the camp. As part of McClelland’s lesson plan, campers learned to use block code to create stories and games in a program called CoSpaces. “They could view their work on a computer or mobile device,” she explained. “If they used the phones Verizon purchased, they could view their work in Virtual Reality and watch their stories or play their games fully immersed. They also learned how to create AR elements that could be projected onto the floor or onto Merge Cubes. Students would hold the cubes in their hands and see their creations projected onto their hands.”
Funding for the camp was awarded through a $150,000 grant for the Verizon Innovative Learning Out of School award. With the postponement of the camp, PVCC earmarked some of the monies for its laptop lending program in 2020.
Since 2012, VIL has provided access to hardware, connectivity and curriculum to under-resourced schools. Imaginative lesson plans designed to improve STEM proficiency, coupled with a robust support system for teachers and tablets that bring material to life, help create the kinds of transformations that change lives. VIL helps prepare kids to participate and shape the future of education and technology.
In May 2022, those campers who complete the program will receive a certificate and other prizes will be awarded for the projects.
“It is our hope that the students learn that no matter where they come from or what obstacles they have faced, there is always room for self-improvement and to do something worthwhile,” said Randy Babick, Instructional Services Manager. “Through the camp mentors and the activities they take part in, including karate lessons, we hope to really make a positive impact on these kids’ lives.”