Nevada Union High School’s Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics club, also known as NU STEM, held its second annual computer summer camp, giving middle school and incoming students an opportunity to learn more about computer programming while spending time with NU students and faculty.
“We started it because we wanted younger kids in the community a chance to get involved in our STEM program prior to coming to Nevada Union,” NU teacher and club advisor John McDaniel said.
“By participating in the camp they get excited as they come in as freshmen and actually have an idea of what they can do at Nevada Union.”
NU class of 2014 graduate David Bernadett created a computer club at the school his sophomore year to give his fellow classmates a space to learn about computers.
“We lost our computer teacher to another position, and the space went unfilled,” Bernadett said. “So Nevada Union does not have any strictly computer class. They do teach a little bit about computers through the Partnership Academy, and through Mr. McDaniel’s class, but there is no dedicated computer class.”
So last year, Bernadett taught some classmates how to program computers and entered them in a local hackathon, an event where computer programers get together for an entire day to work on different software projects. The team got some start-up funds from Telestream, and merged with NU’s Physics club to become NU STEM.
After getting experience in other hackathons and learning more about programming, NU STEM decided to spread knowledge and skills to younger students.
“We all are annoyed to see that Seven Hills is not going to offer geometry anymore and can see some middle schools getting behind,” Bernadett said. “It is a sad condition, and we are hoping that by pushing STEM at the high school and middle school levels, that we can raise the bar for math and science classes.”
Last summer, NU STEM hosted two one-week summer camps to teach students more about 3D printing, circuits, bridges, and robots. This year, the club was able to purchase more computers for the camp, which was held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for five days last week.
According to McDaniel, 16 middle school students from Seven Hills, Grass Valley Charter, Pleasant Valley, and Lyman Gilmore participated in the camp.
“Eight high school aged mentors, some who graduated June 7, were there to aid in building rockets, calculating maximum height after launch and then launching them off,” McDaniel said.
“They also learned JAVA programming basics and completed small projects such as a simple calculator using JOptionPane pop up boxes.”
NU senior Nora Devlin will be the club’s co-president in the coming school year, and says she got involved with NU STEM after starting the club, “WE=MC^2,” named as a play off Albert Einstein’s landmark theory of relativity. Devlin’s group aimed at empowering women and girls in the fields of science.
“When I mentioned this to my physics teacher, Mr. McDaniel, he suggested that I join NU STEM,” Devlin said. “I also have many friends who were in the club, and they all convinced me to join it. I have always been very interested in STEM fields, so this was a great opportunity.”
Devlin, 17, said the students at this year’s camp were self-sufficient and creative.
“On the last day when one of the campers showed me his computer program that he had just finished, it was a totally unique way to go about the project,” Devlin said. “I was really proud of, and inspired by, his method. It made me really excited for the next generation of STEM kids.”
Devlin encourages incoming freshmen and middle school students that don’t know about NU STEM to join the club, and next year’s summer camp.
“This is a really fun club. You learn a lot, make new friends, and get to be a part of something really cool,” Devlin said. “STEM fields have so many different and exciting things to offer, and learning about them can be really helpful for the future. This club provides kids with the opportunity to use the computers and learn more about programming and many other topics that are really fascinating.”
For more information email John McDaniel at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4236.
“… This club provides kids with the opportunity to use the computers and learn more about programming and many other topics that are really fascinating.”
NU senior Nora Devlin