Camp hopes to “Stemulate” middle school students

Published 5:43 pm Friday, July 7, 2017

Robots will descend on Port Arthur starting this weekend.

It may sound like a plot of a science fiction movie, but it will be a reality when the first-ever Camp Stemulate is held for middle school students. Camp A starts at 6 p.m. on Sunday and runs through July 15 at Lamar State College Port Arthur. The first camp will be for girls only.

The boys’ Camp B will be from July 16-22 with also a 6 p.m. start.

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Camp C will run from July 23-29 and the student enrollment is TBD.

Weekday classes will run from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Camp Stemulate is presented by Redirecting/ Educating/ Aligning/ Community Health — a nonprofit organization.

“This is the first time this will be hosted in Port Arthur,” said Shannon Freeman, camp director. This will be the first time it will be done overnight too. We’re having it at Lamar Port Arthur because of the dorms. Generations of Port Arthur kids have gone away from Port Arthur (to go to camp). Now people will be coming here.”

The STEM in Camp Stemulate stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

Freeman said there would also be field trips and other great activities.

“This is groundbreaking. We have a lot of sponsors and engineers helping,” she said.

The hope is the students will be better prepared to enter the workforce in the future after attending the camp through networking opportunities.

Ironically, Freeman teaches English in the Port Arthur ISD and neither science nor math. She believes, however, students will be inspired learning on a college campus and they will develop a natural inclination to go to college.

It was decided to go with robotics for the curriculum after discussing different ideas on what to teach because robotics is the future.

“They can be ready for the jobs that pay well and they can support their families,” she said. “Dr. (Mark) Porterie (PAISD superintendent) has been phenomenal in his support for this.”

Students with the highest math and science scores are nominated from PAISD and Sabine Pass ISD schools to attend. The cost to attend camp is $1,250. Scholarships were available. One hundred twenty students were nominated.

“These are the best of the best,” Freeman said.

She added that it’s a diverse group and a “great group.”

Freeman said the camp would lay the groundwork for a strong STEM foundation.