VERNON PARISH, LA -- Students from the Vernon Parish area decided to extend their learning into summer break by participating in Camp Discovery. Camp Discovery is supported by the Education Initiative led by Fort Polk Progress, which aims to improve school performances, helping to ensure that students receive a great education in the Vernon Parish and Beauregard Parish Schools.
Camp Discovery began in 2014 as a week-long science camp and has continued to grow each year. Camp coordinator Nichole Williams shared, "Each year we see attendance increase and this is the largest group since launching Camp Discovery in 2014." This year the one and half week-long camp was held at Pickering High School and 91 students attended.
Williams is a 5th grade math teacher who recently transferred from Pickering Elementary to Rosepine High School in order to teach middle school math. She is also a math content leader for Vernon Parish.
This year a total of six teachers and the camp coordinator were involved in the learning experience which was held the first week of June.
Camp Discovery is a STEM camp held in Vernon Parish designed to support student learning
in the content areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Each year the camp features different theme(s) centered around STEM activities. The camp experience is full of hands-on practical exercises that help the students learn and work together as a team.
Vernon Parish partnered with Bricks, Bots, and Beakers (B3) for a unique twist on this year's camp. B3 is an exciting education company that creates meaningful opportunities for children to experience a full range of STEM class, camps, parties, field trips and workshops. Bricks denotes engineering and building activities for kids from ages three through middle school. Bots represents the field of robotics and programming for children from pre-K through middle school. Beakers is hands-on science made possible through
Gross Out chemistry, elementary entomology, potions lab, forensic mysteries and more.
"The B3 program takes a "deep dive" into science, the first letter in the acronym STEM, which is often overlooked, said Leigh Lansdale, Curriculum Supervisor, VPSB. "The curriculum is minute-to-minute packed with discovery for all students."
Students in grades 1-4 enjoyed one of the other themes --SuperHero STEAM -- while students in grades 5-8 centered their focus around Epic Engineering Disasters.
The SuperHero STEAM program encouraged the enthusiastic campers to build super hero themed projects with Lego bricks. They completed activities such as: Super Glow-in-the-Dark Kryptonite, Flying Superman, Tallest Tower, Super Hero Helmets, a Superhero training course, and much more. The campers in the upper grades explored historical engineering disasters, from collapsing buildings like the Fidenae Stadium and bridges like the Tay Bridge, Tacoma Narrows Bridge, to sinking ships like the Titanic. Campers identified design flaws, and helped one another discover new design solutions.
Both sessions at Camp Discovery included various experiments and science inquiry. Each session also focused on projects that inspired student creativity to shine, and
hands-on practical exercises that allowed students to learn and work cooperatively in
groups to compete tasks.
Fort Polk Progress Chairman Michael Reese expressed his appreciation to the Vernon Parish School Board and the host of teachers that coordinate Camp Discovery each year.
"Camp Discovery is an excellent educational journey that offers ideas and themes that are outside of the normal school year curriculum. It offers a hands-on, essential, (while) fun experience for our military-connected and civilian Vernon Parish students.
With the continued funding support --for teachers and supplies-provided by Fort Polk Progress, the Vernon Parish School District plans to continue growing Camp Discovery's attendance while providing rigorous STEM activities each summer.