Openings are still available for this year’s BP-sponsored UAA Summer Engineering Academies, which seek to introduce engineering concepts to kids between the ages of 10-18, in grades 5-12, and engage their interest in STEM fields.
This year, the week-long academies will focus on creative and advanced coding; wing aerodynamics; alternative energy; rocketry; construction (and destruction) of basswood bridges; properties of water and hands-on construction projects related to water storage, delivery and use, and Lego, Tetrix and Arduino robotics (as well as FIRST Lego League).
This year’s academies will take place June 5-Aug. 4. Thanks to BP, the cost per child for each session is $100 — with lunches provided each day — and fee waivers are available. And, academies are also being offered at UAA’s Mat-Su College campus.
“We are expanding,” said UAA Professor Scott Hamel, director of the program. “This year we have 21 sessions; last year we had 15. We have a new academy that will involve water, a new one on rocketry at Mat-Su, and we just added a whole bunch of extra robotics and coding. With the new sessions, we’ll be at 550 spots — 100 more than last year.”
In June, Hamel says, the program will run three sessions at a time: “Staff is getting bigger; the lunch program is bigger; the number of rooms we’re occupying is bigger. We’re happy to have the Engineering and Computation Building back [after completion of recent renovations].”
The program instituted an early-bird lottery this year, for families involved in previous academies and people who found out about the program over the winter. Three hundred signed up for the early lottery; 180 got a spot, Hamel said. “Everyone else will get rolled into the regular [lottery],” which is set for April 24.
As of April 10, 350 spots were available, Hamel said.
“The only real complaint we got with registration and the lottery system was that it was too late — we have parents who plan their summers in February and March,” Hamel explained. “I like to keep it kind of late to ensure students who never heard of it before [publication of Alaska Dispatch News’ summer camp guide] get a chance to enroll.”
UAA’s Summer Engineering Academies topped The Bookmark’s list of 16 Can’t-Miss STEM Summer Camps for 2017 — camps that engage kids in exploring science, technology, engineering and math in fun ways.
The website’s analysts created the list after aggregating crime rate data for hundreds of U.S. cities and calculating each location’s proximity to transportation hubs like airports and train stations.
“Once we had a solid list of safe, accessible cities, we went searching for impressive local STEM programs,” the website stated.
Written by Tracy Kalytiak, University of Alaska Anchorage