HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — Can you build a working hydraulics system with popsicle sticks and hot glue? Well, some elementary- and middle-schoolers at Hagerstown Community College sure can.
JLC, inc.’s youth engineering program — in partnership with HCC — has been around for about 10 years. It was originally an experience meant only for middle-school girls as an effort to promote women in STEM. But the program grew, which inspired the organizations to open it to elementary schoolers and boys.
“We decided it would be a great idea, so this is actually our first year in-person hosting a middle school co-ed, as well as an elementary school co-ed,” said Jennifer Griesbach, a senior project engineer for JLG. “And it’s amazing to see the differences and to see how it’s grown over the years.”
Thanks to some funding from JLG — an equipment manufacturing company that specializes in booms and scissor lifts — children were able to attend the camps for a low cost. Camp supervisors believe this was a great way to make the experience more accessible to the entire community.
“I think people hear ‘STEM camp’ — you know, science and technology — and think ‘Oh, it’s too far out of my reach, it’s not attainable,'” said Kristine Baisa, a design engineer for JLG. “But bringing these resources to these kids … is a difference-maker.”
Kids were able to build their own working scissor lifts and battery-operated cars during their time at the camps. After months of at-home learning, camp sponsors feel this was a great way for children to slowly get back to being comfortable inside the classroom. And with this year’s camp being a success, HCC has plans to expand it in the future.
“We had a super-long waitlist of people from the community really wanting to get into it,” said Jenna Lamblin, personal enrichment and youth programs manager for HCC. “So we’re hoping to reevaluate the needs and meet them next summer as best we can.”
There were three separate week-long camps, which ran from July 19 through Aug. 6.