Summer of Innovation

JERSEY SHORE – As NASA’s Summer of Innovation Camp was held across the country for the third straight year, giving students the opportunity to learn about a variety of topics, a local program was chosen as one of four to be a national evaluation site.

Jersey Shore Area School District was selected to have national evaluators from the program, which focuses on giving students in grades four through nine exposure to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fields.

“It was an honor to have Jersey Shore chosen to participate in the national evaluation to help improve the program for the future,” said Jodi English, Jersey Shore program lead.

More than 130 students participated in the program, which exposed them to a number of activities and topics, including rocketry, aeronautics, robotics and earth and space science.

“I think the idea of the grant is they want to encourage (to explore careers in STEM),” said Dr. David Morgan, project director.

Students participated in a variety of activities throughout the week-long, free camp.

Students had the opportunity to build rockets, create robots that would react to commands and design and build roller coasters in teams.

The camp recruits teachers from around the county. Teachers specialize in areas including biology, physics, earth science and mathematics.

“I think that’s so neat that we have such a wide variety of certifications available,” English said. ” We pretty much have everything covered.”

Kevin Harris, a Williamsport Area School District teacher, also was on-hand one day to do a rocket launch.

Harris launched a number of small rockets and explained the mechanical side of the activity.

Morgan said the Jersey Shore program was selected to be evaluated because it is “one of the best.”

Besides receiving a visit from evaluators, being a national evaluation site means the district needed to hold a recruitment night, have parent and student surveys, and interviews with NASA.

English said she enjoys being able to see students get excited about learning and excel in challenging situations.

“It was important to me for NASA to see the positive impact the free camp has on our students and community,” English said. “Providing quality STEM content in a summer learning experience enables our students to be involved in challenging learning opportunities centered around discovery. Hoping to ultimately inspire our middle school students towards future STEM pursuits.”