A different kind of spring break

HOUGHTON – Many local students took a week off of school this week but, thanks to Spring Break Camp at Michigan Technological University, they took no time off from learning. Over three days spanning from Tuesday to Thursday, two groups of students from grades one through three and four through six were introduced to topics relating to science and engineering taught by Michigan Tech students, staff and faculty.

“It’s hands on and fun. They obviously learn things but we try to make it less school-like and more hands-on,” said Joan Chadde, Michigan Tech education program coordinator and Spring Break Camp instructor for grades one through three. “The idea is to have them feel good and enjoy science and engineering, feel confident and increase their interest.”

Focusing on different topics each day, campers participated in hands-on activities and site visits to various Michigan Tech classrooms and labs.

The younger group, during a day focusing on wildlife, also visited the Nara Center in Houghton.

Focusing on transportation during their session Thursday, campers from grades one through three participated in multiple activities, including tracking how items like T-shirts and bananas are shipped from their countries of origin to stores in the Copper Country.

“Today we made pictures first of transportation and after that we looked at times of each shirt. We put tallies on the name of it and taped them up there where they belong,” said Madison Minerick, a second grader from Houghton Elementary School.

After tracking the routes of imported goods, the campers attempted to wrap clay bananas in a way that would allow them to be dropped without bruising.

Throughout the week, the group learned about wildlife and determining tools while the older group of fourth- through sixth-graders explored topics including engineering, radio, exercise science and chemistry. Although they are still learning, the hands-on approach allows the children a bit more freedom to explore the topics. “We get to do more projects here,” Minerick said. This year’s camp is only the second annual Spring Break Camp at Michigan Tech. They also offer after-school programs and summer camps for children interested in hands-on science and engineering projects.