If you like this story, you may want to read about our other summer youth program Girls Code Summer Camp by clicking here.
Every summer The Creative Coast offers a number of free youth STEAM sessions at local recreational centers and libraries around Savannah. In past years, we offered video game development sessions, lessons on circuitry connections, environmental science instruction, and more. With sponsorship from our partners at the City of Savannah, this summer we teamed up with the Pennsylvania Avenue Resource Center (PARC), the W.W. Law Live Oak Public Library, and Operation One STEM at a Time to bring principles of science, tech, engineering, and math to Savannah’s youngest innovators.
The curriculum was run and instructed by Ambria Berksteiner of Operation One STEM at a Time. Berksteiner taught eight sessions to campers at PARC and the W.W. Law Library. Together we were able to serve over sixty boys and girls ranging from the K-12 grades. The kids learned through collaborative, project-based learning with a focus on incorporating creativity for fun engagement. That’s where the cooking came into play…
This summer’s theme was ‘Edible Creations.’
“This year, we took learning to the next level with an Edible STEM Camp, exploring the wonders of science through delicious food!” said Berksteiner, who stressed the importance of our summer partnerships with PARC, W.W. Law, and the City of Savannah. “Together, we’re empowering the next generation of brilliant minds to shine in the world of STEM.”
To name just a few of the projects, boys and girls were able to design and construct solar-powered pizza ovens (and cook smores in them!), use chemical reactions to make ice cream, and create glow-in-the-dark jello illuminated by a special black light! Following her mission to “educate, enlighten, and empower,” Berksteiner incorporates fun, hands-on activities in her curriculum along with examples of how STEM is critical in everyday settings. She also includes interesting facts and interactive Q&A throughout the activities.
Jestice, a young W.W. Law camper shared that the solar ovens were her favorite project. “I think it is really entertaining and exciting, and we learned about science. The solar ovens were fun to make. The smores were good!” she said.
Jaliyah, another W.W. Law camper, seconded Jestice’s experience. “I loved it. it was a fun and exciting experience for all of us.”
The purpose of these sessions is to pique local youth’s interest in STEM. Why is this so important at a young age?
The STEM industry offers more lucrative careers and economic opportunities. These types of jobs also offer lower unemployment rates than non-STEM careers. 2023 findings from the National Science Foundation (NSF) support this. The NSF’s research shows that STEM workers have a median wage and salary earnings of about $64,000, which is higher than the $40,000 earned by those working in non-STEM occupations. In 2019 the unemployment rate for the STEM labor force was 2% and the non-STEM labor force unemployment rate was higher at 4%. The study found that this pattern continued throughout the economic downturn brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Not to mention, STEM careers are projected to be the fastest growing in the next 10 years. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that STEM jobs are expected to grow by 10.8% from 2021-2031. Non-STEM jobs are expected to grow by only 4.9% during this time period. We are already seeing this locally with a greater need for high-tech, STEM talent as the Hyundai plant is being developed.
Our long-term goal with our youth programs is to keep kids interested in computer science, entrepreneurship, science, engineering, & math while teaching them about critical thinking and problem-solving through innovation and creativity. Ultimately, their continued interests will allow them to pursue future high-wage jobs post-graduation and fill tech openings within the next decade. In order to hold their interest, we need to reach as many kids as possible and continue to expand our STEAM program offerings for more opportunities.
The City of Savannah has continually been a partner in our youth programs, supporting our summer STEAM sessions since 2020 and all of our STEAM programming since 2014. These 2023 summer sessions, would not be possible without instruction provided by Operation One STEM at a Time founder Ambria Berksteiner and collaborative efforts with PARC and W.W. Law to serve Savannah’s youth.
If you’d like to help support the expansion of these programs, please donate. Learn more about our eSTEAM fund, and please visit https://thecreativecoast.org/esteamfund/ today!