STEM camp aims to prepare students for college and benefit Appalachia

Published: Jul. 22, 2016 at 5:37 PM EDT
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More than thirty students spent this entire week on the campus of the University of Louisville.

It’s part of the Promise Zone STEM Summer Camp, which is designed to prepare students for life after high school, as well as provide the next generation of Appalachia’s young adults with an idea of what it will take to move the region forward.

“Well I’ve spoken with several students, and they’ve all said pretty much the same thing. They say this one week at the University of Louisville has broadened their horizons, and changed the way they look at, not only their future, but the future of Eastern Kentucky.”>

The students heard UL President, Dr. James Ramsey Friday morning, talk about the importance of a college degree.

“I don’t want our students to think they can’t continue their education; that for whatever reason that they can’t,” said Ramsey.

And the emphasis on a college education is just one part of the week-long camp, focused on impacting students in promise zone counties, who they hope will in-turn make an impact on eastern Kentucky, as a whole.

“That’s one of my strong feelings, is that when these kids – even one of them – becomes successful, they can transform that entire region,” said Mahendra Sunkara, the Director of The Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research.

The camp provided real-life experience to prepare students for life after high school – specifically regarding studies in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

“It was more of a hands-on experience than it would be of just lectures, lectures, lectures,” said Chris Hall, a junior at Perry County Central.

The students stayed on campus all week and participated in activities each day, from presentations to lab projects.

“We got to assemble our own lithium battery in one of the labs we worked with, and that’s just one of the things we did this week,” said Jennings Collins, a junior at Clay County High School.

Surely the week was an experience many of the students will never forget, and hopefully one which will have a lasting impact on the mountain region.

"Partners for Education" at Berea College helped put together the camp, which was the first of its kind, and it was free to students.