STEM Camp at Pleasant Gap Elementary School is just one more thing at Bellefonte Area School District that shows the importance of promoting STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and math. It was offered to more than 150 students during the last week of June and held for the second consecutive year, thanks to a grant from the state.

It also provides the district with just one more thing to promote through its partnership with Engine of Central Pennsylvania that acts as a network with other agencies, institutes and organizations to share STEM innovation.

“It becomes a huge interchange of purposeful interactions,” Superintendent Michelle Saylor said. “What the ecosystem does is help expand networks and see opportunities available and work together to create robust opportunities for kids in STEM.”

According to the organization, Engine of Central PA, a branch of Penn State’s Center for Science and the Schools, has goals that include:

Educating the community about the STEM mindset;
Increasing the number and support cross-sector partnerships that develop innovative and relevant projects;
Providing equitable access to STEM experiences for all students;
Elevating ecosystem organizations’ trans-disciplinary opportunities, resources, and events that align with the ENGINE of Central PA vision; and
Increasing the number of career-ready, well-informed citizens to meet the demands of our future STEM workforce and community needs.
A STEM “ecosystem,” according to the organization, provides the foundation for offering a variety of learning environments so institutes can further develop skills and engagement in STEM subjects. Counties in the central Pennsylvania-based ecosystem are Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Cumberland, Dauphin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lebanon, Mifflin, Perry and Schuylkill counties, and allows member institutions to share and act as resources for STEM mentoring, workshops and more to better engage with each other to create a collaborative process with STEM initiatives in school.

Events and activities through STEM Camp this year are taught and facilitated by district teachers, and include lessons in magic, meteorology, making slime, levitating balloons, Morse code and code-wheel activities, crime investigation, a visit from a Penn State veterinarian and K-9 officer, and more.

The camp started in June 2018 — made possible with a grant from the state — that allowed the district to further promote science in the 21st century and to help build skills students need when they leave the district, camp organizer and fourth-grade teacher Stacey Miller said.

The district is also working on enhancing its partnership with the State College-based Discovery Space of Central Pennsylvania.