• KISD STREAM Camp Big First Week
    By: Todd Martin
    Streaming along from mixing colored water to building a water-powered claw and operating miniature spherical robots, Killeen ISD STREAM Camp bubbled to the surface and spilled over.
    The first full week of June was something of a return to school with numerous summer programs getting started.
    The popular STREAM Camp, featuring science, technology, reading, engineering, art and math began with morning and afternoon sessions at Timber Ridge Elementary School and Union Grove Middle School.
    It’s the first time in the camp’s three years to offer an exclusively middle school site and the first time to have virtual participants.
    “It gets kids engaged, thinking, designing and creating,” said Mountain View Elementary School Librarian Yvonne Cook, part of the team at Timber Ridge.
    She volunteered at a previous STREAM Camp and jumped at the chance to work at this year’s version.
    Cook gestured to the 20 or so elementary students sitting on the floor of the library piecing together balloon-powered cars.
    “I love the tinkering and the conversation,” she said, explaining how students talked through the differences between using big and small wheels.
    They were so excited, she pointed out, that they were blowing up their balloons before their cars were fully built.
    “They’re thinking and they’re problem solving,” she said.
    This year’s STREAM Camp includes the district’s mobile STEM lab, which stopped at both the elementary and middle school site the first week and was scheduled to stop at the second week sites – Pershing Park and Fowler elementary schools.
    Eastern Hills Middle School Librarian Lashawnda Franklin said she heard the past few years as Reeces Creek Librarian Dina D’Amore described the fun of STREAM Camp and she was excited to spread the excitement to a middle school.
    In the past middle school students have been mixed in with younger students. They are responding in larger numbers with a camp of their own.
    “What I’m seeing is that every student wants to be here,” Franklin said. “They all have a unique twist on the activities. They make it their own. I like to hear the conversations.”
    With the relatively small numbers of students and teams of librarians and aides, the creative students took lots of time to think and experiment.
    Between activities at the middle school, students spread out among science stations, robotics, art and games.
    “They are problem solving and critical thinking,” said Franklin. “They are in charge of the activity. We’re just here facilitating.”
    At the middle school site, Liberty Hill Middle School seventh-grader Matthew Francis said he enjoyed the art the most, particularly getting to experiment with 3D printing. “I was excited to come and create things.”
    Audie Murphy Middle School sixth-grader Emma Jimenez said she was most excited about coding and driving the rolling, remote-controlled robots. She said she attended the camp in past years and was impressed with the additional stations.
    At the elementary site, Blake Zimmerman, who just finished fifth grade, said he was most intrigued with the engineering challenges. He pointed out a hydraulic-powered claw. “I like knowing that I’m the one that created that,” he said, “and that hopefully, it works.”
    New fifth-grader Madalyn Shellhart said she liked the combination of meeting new friends and the creative, imaginative activities that mixed math, art and other elements.
    “I was nervous to come at first,” she said. “Now, I wish I could do it all summer.”