MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. – Digging potatoes, making pickles, learning about and tasting different types of meat, extracting pollen from flowers and then tasting honey, dissecting fish, handling goats, conducting biodiversity surveys at the pond, and collecting chicken eggs were just a few of the things that the students in the University of Mount Olive’s inaugural Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics, and Agriculture (STEAMA) camp experienced. Targeted to sixth through eighth grade students, the goal of the camp, entitled “From Farm to Table,” was to provide topics that would be interesting and engaging, and at the same time challenging and informative.
Students came from Duplin, New Hanover, Johnston, Lenoir, Sampson, and Wayne Counties to attend the FREE, three-day camp held between the hours of 8AM and 4PM. Dean of the School of Agriculture and Biological Sciences Dr. Sandy Maddox, said, “The purpose of the event was really two-fold. We wanted students to know about the STEMA disciplines, and we wanted them on the UMO campus so they would know what this region has to offer for their future educational needs.”
Maddox noted that some of the attendees had never been on a college campus before the camp. “These kids, many of whom have not been in a classroom very much or even at all this year, due to COVID, really enjoyed themselves. They asked engaging questions, were able to get their hands dirty, and learned a great deal about a lot of different topics.”
Thomas Heinzerling of Clayton said, ‘This is the best camp I have ever attended.”
Ayden Cox of Kinston said, “My favorite workshops were the meat identification and the potato digging.”
Paulina Adasiak of Clinton enjoyed learning about and handling the donkeys, sheep, and chickens. Anna Davis of Wilmington liked the pond workshop and the DNA extraction.
UMO Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Sara Lahman, who helped initiate the camp, said, “Sometimes students have predispositions of what ag, math, chemistry, and art are like before actually learning about them. We wanted to show them that STEAMA subjects don’t have to be scary. We provided them with an immersive experience to show them how much fun these subjects can be and how intertwined they all are. As campers saw the disciplines of STEAMA come together, that lightbulb came on, and that made it all worthwhile.”
Camp ended with a bang as Chemistry Professor Jason Pajski demonstrated science as he exploded a hydrogen balloon. “That wasn’t too loud,” one camper said, “but it sure was neat!”
The University’s Annual STEM on the Green for third graders from Wayne and surrounding counties will be held on October 15 this year. Interested educators should contact Dr. Sara Lahman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-299-4578 for more information.
The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University is sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists. For more information, visit www.umo.edu.
–Rhonda Jessup, University of Mount Olive