Students’ Summer Includes STEM

Sept. 1, 2013 – GEAR UP students had many opportunities this summer to experience the world of STEM. Several students attended the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education academies across the state. Academies attended included the Peek Into Engineering camp at Seminole State College; EDUCATE ME at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College; the STEM Academy at Murray State College; Where Does Our Food Come From and How Did it Get Here at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma; Explorations in Computer Science and Robotics at East Central University; Meteorology: From Atmosphere to Zulu at the University of Oklahoma; and the Ecological Investigations and Wilderness Adventure at Connors State College. Students also attended the GEAR UP Geocaching Adventure at Seminole State College.

At the GEAR UP Geocaching Adventure, students enjoyed the activity of searching for treasure the modern way—with technology and not a map. While the clues also required some critical thinking, the students eventually used a Global Positioning System receiver searching for “geocaches” hidden by the GEAR UP staff in preparation for the activity.

The GEAR UP staff recorded the longitude and latitude coordinates of the treasures before students arrived for the camp.  Various puzzles and other activities provided clues for the students to find the coordinates. Then, the student teams used the coordinates to find the treasure and report back to GEAR UP staff.

“It was a treat to witness the students working together and utilizing the GPS devices,” said GEAR UP Advisor Marissa Lightsey. “The activities required students to solve math equations, solve mathematical puzzles, as well as answer Oklahoma history questions.”

During the classroom sessions, the students prepared for the activities with the help of experts from the Oklahoma Archeological Survey and the Oklahoma Forestry Services Division of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry. Seminole State’s Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Melanie Croy, an avid Geocaching hobbyist, also visited with the students about the use of the technology and her experience with the activity.

The camp concluded with a trip to the Chickasaw Cultural Center and a tour. “I think the students really enjoyed seeing the importance of preserving history. It was a nice ending to the geocache lessons,” Lightsey said.

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