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The Engineering Place’s summer camps invite students back for in-person learning

Elementary school campers make furniture from newspapers.

After two summers hosted virtually, The Engineering Place is welcoming students back for in-person camp experiences this summer. Applications for all programs are now open until April 8.

For more than two decades, The Engineering Place has been inspiring upwards of 1,000 K-12 learners each summer to explore the world of engineering through hands-on activities emphasizing collaboration and problem-solving.

“We want youth of all ages to see the world of engineering as fun, exciting and challenging,” said Leah Bug, assistant director of The Engineering Place. “Engineering is all around us and we want them to learn more about how they can become engineers and solve big problems in their world, both big and small.”

Twenty-six different camp options, between June 19 and August 12, provide a wide variety of engineering experiences for rising kindergartners to high school seniors. Day camps are for rising kindergarteners to 10th graders, and residential summer camps are available to rising 11th and 12th graders.

While a typical day at camp varies between groups, each day begins with students receiving a new engineering challenge. Students split into small teams and work together to investigate the problem to find a solution, while receiving plenty of time to rest and interact with fellow campers outside. By the end of the day, students are given the opportunity to showcase their designs.

Susan D’Amico, coordinator of engineering K-12 outreach extension for The Engineering Place, sees the camps as opportunities to show what engineers do while increasing young learners’ knowledge base of what engineering is.

“We often call engineering ‘the silent e’ of STEM because most people don’t have a clear view of what engineering is and aren’t aware of the impact engineers have by helping people through creative problem solving,” D’Amico said.

Through participation in the program, staff members encourage the nurturing of the engineering habits of mind — systems thinking, creativity, optimism, collaboration, persistence and conscientiousness. It’s these critical skills that Bug emphasized will serve students well in their lives, whether they decide to pursue a career in engineering or not.

“In other words, engineering camp is just not for kids who think they want to be engineers, but for kids who like to question and solve problems,” said Bug.

Summer camps were moved to a virtual format starting in the summer of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Engineering Place transitioned to a virtual format and kept students engaged through hundreds of activity kits mailed directly to students’ homes, and given this success, they were able to continue operating virtually for the summer of 2021.

While successful, Bug and D’Amico are thrilled to welcome back students in-person and to see the excitement and energy they bring to campus.

“There is something contagious about their interest and amazement in finding solutions. The energy just feeds me,” D’Amico said. “Planning can be difficult, but I love the challenge and the pay-off of seeing the kids have a great time.”

While camps will take place on NC State’s campus, one virtual option is available for high school students. Additionally, students who are home-schooled or live outside of North Carolina are welcomed to apply.

The Engineering Place summer camps are American Camp Association (ACA) accredited, having undergone a rigorous peer review to ensure campers are participating in high-quality activities and learning experiences under the supervision of qualified staff members.

More information on each summer camp, their associated fees and financial aid options can be found here. Applicants will be notified of their enrollment status by May 2.