STEM Camp taps into students’ creativity

Herald photos by Kayla Renie/The Herald
Holy Trinity Catholic School first-graders Ella Bohnent, left, Hannah Schnarr and Camille Bauernfiend create bird feeders during STEM Club at the schoolÕs Central Campus on Friday. Students came up with their own designs and built bird feeders from recyclable materials.


JASPER — School had ended for the day, but sounds of creation still echoed through the halls of Holy Trinity Catholic School’s Central Campus.

Most of the first- and second-graders elected to stay after school each day last week for STEM Camp, an event the teachers host once a semester to give the students hands-on activities focused on science, technology, engineering and math. At Christmas and Easter, they add art to the mix.

Last week’s camp focused on engineering and had the students rotate to a different activity each day where they were challenged to build something. Projects included a magnet maze, a replica of Mount Rushmore, a bird feeder and a finger football game goal.

“We try to change it u,p so if you did it in first grade, you’re not doing the same things in second grade,” second grade teacher Andrea Hurm said.

The plan seems to have worked. Several of the students this year had participated in past camps. Second-grader Zoey Buening is one returning camper. She attended her first camp at Christmas and knew she wanted to do it again for the fun, hands-on activities.

On Wednesday, Zoey found herself building a bird feeder from recycled materials in Hurm’s classroom. To start the project, the students had to draw up their plans, then gather the materials. Zoey decided to build her bird feeder out of an old plastic water bottle. She liked the screw-on cap and thought it would be best to keep the elements out of the bird seed. She also added some popsicle sticks.

Holy Trinity Catholic School second-grade teacher Ashley Dupps passes out materials to second-graders Caleb Mehringer, left, Landon Thorburgh, Will Knies and John Hasenour, for them to create their own Mount Rushmore with their choice of presidents' or their teachers' faces for a Presidents Day-themed project during STEM club at the school on Friday.

“See these?” she said, gesturing to the sticks. “They can stand on them.”

In first grade teacher Ashley Dupps’ classroom, second-graders Vivian Peter and Ellie Schafer were hard at work building a replica of Mount Rushmore out of plastic straws. Next to their model, printouts of their teachers’ headshots sat on their desks.

“Instead of the presidents, we’re putting the teachers,” Vivian explained.

By the end of the day, the girls had a straw mountain about 2 feet tall that featured the teachers’ photos taped to straws.

In first grade teacher Jamie Clauss’ classroom, second-grader Sam Schaefer got some extra practice with problem-solving as he tried to guide a paper heart with the paper clip through the magnet maze he’d built out of a paper plate and pieces of plastic straws. The heart kept getting stuck on a piece of straw and a fold in the tape.

“I took off that [piece of straw], and I took off the tape,” he explained.

After that, the magnet had no problem guiding the heart through.

Meanwhile, second-grader Nate Greulich tapped into his creativity for his finger football goal in second grade teacher Kari Seal’s classroom. He grabbed a piece of orange construction paper and cut out tiny flags that he taped to his goal posts.

By the end of the hourlong camp session, each student had another project to take home. Then, the next day, they’d spend an hour after school building another of the four projects.

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