Summer Camp is a Breeze in Houston!

Last month, NEED was proud to partner with Shell and The National Society of Black Engineers for the Houston Summer Engineering Experience for Kids (SEEK) Camp. NSBE organizes SEEK camps across the nation so that third, fourth, and fifth graders have the opportunity to increase their aptitude for math and science, develop their leadership skills, generate interest in STEM fields and careers, and participate in interactive, team-based engineering challenges. NEED curriculum seemed to be a natural fit for the SEEK camp in Houston this summer, and thanks to Shell, it was a great week!

SEEK camp lasts three weeks at each of its locations. Each week has a different central engineering challenge. Houston’s camp was held at the Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy. NEED was happy to help out with week one’s challenge: construct the best wind turbine. Students were led by their mentors, young engineers in college or in the field, as they explored everything to know about energy and the wind. Students worked with NEED’s Science of Energy kits and activities, as well as our suite of wind energy curriculum. They created the wind in a diorama, observed and measured wind by making their own anemometers, built sailboats, lifted weights with pinwheels, and even explored how electricity can be created with generators and bulbs. Students created songs, wrote and illustrated stories, and even performed skits to showcase what they were learning at camp each day.

At the end of each week, however, it all comes down to the challenge…

Each day the activities completed at camp helped students to understand how wind does work and generates electricity. Once students understood this, they began assembling and testing wind turbines. Each classroom received the same KidWind base turbine, but needed to create the best blades for their turbine. Those blades needed to enable the turbine to lift the most weight or generate the most current. Students explored the variables behind blade design and prepped all week to make their turbine the best it could be, in hopes to be the best of the camp!

Every Friday during SEEK Camp is Challenge Day. This is the day the students show their stuff. Each classroom selected teams to compete in events related to the challenge topic for each week. Judges from Shell were on hand to visit classrooms during week one, and picked the winning teams. The first challenge was a creative arts challenge. Third grade classrooms created stories with illustrations that showcased all they learned about wind energy. Fourth grade classrooms created skits to share what they learned about wind. One classroom made an entire game show set for their skit! Fifth graders created their own songs with lyrics to reflect their learning about wind energy. Songs were set to familiar tunes like “My Girl” by the Temptations, and “All I do is Win(d),” by DJ Khaled.

The second challenge event was a public speaking event. In this event, classrooms had to select teams that would be able to verbally demonstrate how a wind turbine works to generate electricity. Teams wrote their own scripts and had to include many of their language arts skills to make sure their speeches flowed appropriately and were grammatically correct. Students practiced making eye contact and projecting so all the judges could hear them while they discussed their technical content and vocabulary.

The final or main challenge event was the turbine challenge. Students assembled the best blade design they could make and brought their turbine to the gym. There they were judged on their turbine’s ability to work as a complete system, on the design of their blades, on their teamwork and problem solving, and on their use of appropriate safety measures. Third and fourth grade teams competed to see whose design could lift the most weight, while fifth grade competed to see whose design generated the highest amount of electric current.

NEED was on hand all week to help as students learned, experimented, and had tons of fun. NEED was also happy to join Shell at the student awards ceremony following the challenges. One of the best parts of each week is to see students be rewarded for their work! Students gathered with their teams, classrooms, mentors, and parents as ribbons were awarded to top teams for each challenge. Teams and classrooms also earned spirit and leadership awards for their efforts throughout the week.

SEEK Camp in Houston was a fantastic time for students, mentors, and for NEED! It was a wonderful experience to be involved with young, bright, future STEM leaders. We so enjoyed seeing what all of the students learned, and most importantly seeing them so energized about science and math during the summer! NEED is so grateful for the opportunity to partner with NSBE and Shell on this amazing week. Maybe NEED will be coming to NSBE SEEK Camp near you in the future!