Last week 38 students from the tri-county area occupied Fort Dorchester High School, busying themselves by building bridges, spinning wind turbines and dropping parachutes.
The Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics (GSSM) just launched CREATEng, a new four-day immersion into engineering and design-based thinking for rising eighth- and ninth-graders in the tri-county area. CREATEng was held at Fort Dorchester High June 23-26.
Students learned innovative thinking techniques for problem-solving while developing engineering skills through team-based hands-on daily projects. They also go to interact with engineers on site and during field trips.
The camp wrapped up with a showcase on Thursday, where students got to show their parents the projects they worked on all week.
Kathryn Behling, CREATEng coordinator, wrote the curriculum for the camp. She said a big push to hold such a camp for students was gathering input from companies such as Google or Boeing, which encourage students to know how to work as a team before entering the engineering field.
Behling felt the launching of CREATEng had a positive impact on students. She hopes the camp will be brought back next year.
“I think it went great,” she said. “It was a really smooth week. We were very pleased with it.”
Students got to pick their own teams – consisting of three to four students – but the catch was they had to form a team based on something they had in common, and then come up with a team name that reflected that common element. One group of girls realized they all had singing in common and therefore named themselves The Treble Makers. Another group agreed none of them could draw so they called themselves The Art School Dropouts.
The teams competed for points throughout the week by participating in projects, and worked under the supervision of teachers and teacher’s assistants. At the showcase at the end of the week the winning teams were announced, based on the amount of points they earned from their projects.
A particular favorite project was building model bridges, which had to be cost-effective and withstand the weight of 15 pounds for 30 seconds, said Jon Regan, a rising ninth-grader.
Regan’s team was called The Heat, and it placed fourth overall for the week, earning Chick-fil-A coupons.
“I learned that teamwork is very important – and communication,” Regan said.
Elliott Palmley and D.J. Deas, both rising ninth-graders, were part of a team called The Bacon Ninja Turtles. Palmley said he also learned a lot about teamwork.
“I learned it’s really fun to work with other people instead of working by yourself,” he said.
Deas said he learned a lot about the benefits of becoming an engineer.
“I learned you can get an engineering job straight out of college,” he said.