Summer STEM camp in Portsmouth makes science fun, students say

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It’s a summer camp – of the future. 

At Victory Elementary School in Portsmouth, the “Eco-Cadets”, as they’re called, embarked on quite an adventure this week as part of the Starbase Victory summer camp program.

Camper Ella Hall said her favorite part was kayaking. “It was really fun, because my best friend Hannah was right there with me,” she said.

From kayaking to bird-watching, these students received hands-on math and science instruction in a fun, low-pressure environment, according to Starbase Victory founder Bill Hayden.

“When the kids come here, frankly, they think they’re just having fun,” Hayden said. Starbase Victory is a public-private partnership between Hayden’s nonprofit foundation and Portsmouth Public Schools. Hayden founded the program in 2002.

Campers eagerly responded to the unique teaching strategy. “It was very fun, we got to do a lot of things, and we got to experience some job opportunities we might want to go into later,” camper Caleb Liggins said.

Hayden said it’s all about getting kids excited about math and science – and connecting those problem-solving skills with real-life situations. 

“The things that they learn here, the process that they learn here, they can carry with them out into normal life, and solve their own problems as they show up,” he said.

On the last day of camp, students were treated to a show and tell by a Dominion Energy meteorologist – and they had lots of questions, including one about the feasibility of a “Sharknado.”

Dominion employees were on hand to present a $7,500 check to support the Starbase summer camp’s STEM activities.

“This is a wonderful program for Dominion Energy to invest in, to help educate children in STEM jobs, to prepare them for these careers of the future, and also prepare the STEM industry to be ready to have a diverse workforce that will help make it better for all of us,” said Bonita Billingsley Harris, media and community relations manager at Dominion Energy.

Camper Zion Hicks said he told his friends to come next year. 

“I told him it’s fun, you’ll probably learn something new,” Hicks said. His favorite part was also kayaking, which was a common refrain from campers.

For Bill Hayden, the reward came from the smiles on the kids’ faces. 

“I’m a volunteer, I do this for free, because … I think the kids deserve it,” he said.

Click here for more information on the summer camp program.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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