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STEM camp helps prevent summer brain drain in kids

A summer camp in Nevada is using STEM to help kids continue to learn during the summer and not lose valuable information they learned during the school year.

NEVADA, Iowa — A camp for kids in grades kindergarten through sixth is hoping to help keep students from experiencing the summer slide. 

Camp Invention in Nevada is a STEM camp, meaning kids are taught skills related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. 

Nevada Community School District teacher and Camp Invention director Ryan Brown said the kids learn about those topics by engaging in hands-on activities. 

One activity students participated in was constructing a mini slide out of cardboard and seeing how gravity pulls objects down the structure.

For another project, students were asked to find a creative way to catch a sea creature.

"We also had to make a creation to grab the jellyfish without your hand touching the water," said camp goer Zoey Wakeman,

Wakeman also noted the camp counselors encourage them to try again if their first idea fails.

"I tried taping a notebook onto something, like a half of a circle, but the tape kept on coming off, so then I just used the circle," Wakeman said.

Brown said the students doing those projects helps kids grow. 

"The students are really given free rein to build, design, engineer anything that they can sort of imagine," Brown said.

Brown also noted the purpose of the camp is two-fold: it helps kids think critically through fun activities, but also helps stop children from losing the valuable knowledge they learned during the school year.  

Research from Brown University found the average student lost between 17% to 34% of the previous year's gains during the summer break.

"This is a great opportunity to get kids…to spark that interest and that intrigue to model and design and build," Brown said.

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