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Camp introduces middle schoolers to engineering fieldSubmitted: 07/10/2014
Story By Lauren Stephenson

Camp introduces middle schoolers to engineering field
EAGLE RIVER - Camp doesn't involve bonfires, hiking and the outdoors for one group of Northwoods middle schoolers. Instead, their camp gets them ready for high school engineering classes and beyond.

"It's a lot more complicated than most people think," said eighth grader Hunter Indermuehle.

He is one of eighteen 6th, 7th, and 8th graders spending this week back in the classroom for Engineering Camp at Northland Pines.

"It's just really fun to do it. You get to engineer stuff. You have to make a bunch of different kinds of stuff. You've got to design it. You've got to look at your parts and then you've got to assemble it," Indermuehle explained.

Teachers hope the program gets more students interested in STEM fields. Those are careers that include science, technology, engineering and math. So far this week students have made hovercraft and created devices that keep eggs safe when dropped. They've also taken a few field trips to visit local engineers.

"Today, we're going to mess around with some robotics. So a lot of programming has been done in the course so far to kind of prepare them for today which is the robotics part," said Northland Pines Math teacher John Hayes. "We're using two iPad or iPhone or iPod-type robots that they're going to actually program to go through a maze, or even to go around obstacles. So that's kind of our goal today is that hopefully they're prepped enough so that they can, you know, write that code because it's pretty tricky. I mean it would be hard for an adult to write the code and we're asking 6th,7th, and 8th graders to write it."

Experts say only three in ten people graduating in STEM fields are women, and only one in ten engineers are women. The teachers hope to change that. They've seen more girls participate in the camp over the years.

"If you learn some of this stuff now it helps you in college," said 6th grader Madesen VanOrder. "I either want to be a fashion designer or an engineer or a zoologist and that will help me in all three of those."

"We are the future and I think that every kid should at least have a little bit of an understanding on how engineers work," Indermuehle said. "So, it's really important just to think, not taking everything for granted."

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