Georgia Tech’s CEISMC STEAM Whistle Workshops and Horizons Atlanta Keep Students Active Over the Summer
Sep 5, 2020 | Atlanta, GA
To prepare for the Summer 2020 Student Programs, Georgia Tech’s Center for Education Integrating Mathematics, Science, and Computing (CEISMC) attended the 2019 Student Program Retreat. Quickly following the shift to online learning, however, CEISMC made the swift decision to adjust to a new plan for the Summer 2020 Student Programs.
In response, the new STEAM Whistle Workshops and the 2020 Horizons Virtual Program were fine-tuned to provide scholars with the chance to stay engaged online over the summer. Both programs provided online instruction for students in a format that reflected past programs that were familiar to them.
The STEAM Whistle Workshops were new weeklong programs implemented over the summer for middle and high school students. Past programs such as the CEISMC Summer PEAKS Program and Savannah Summer Programs inspired the new Workshops. In this program, instructors met with students, provided time for independent project work, and lead hands-on, interactive activities completed at home. A new training process was also introduced to give instructors the necessary tools to deliver quality education.
“We knew that it was very important for us not just that we had student programs to tick off a box and say that we have them,” said Timothy Cone, GT Savannah CEISMC Program Director, “but to offer high quality student experiences still in a virtual environment.”
A Canvas page was provided so all Workshop content was organized for the students. At the end of each day, a 60 to 90-minute breakout session allowed guest speakers to attend, set aside time for students to ask questions, and allowed students to engage with each other.
“Some of our programs such as the Into the Storm Program brought in guest speakers,” Cone stated. “This offered unique opportunities for students to meet individuals that may not be in the Atlanta area or Savannah area.”
The STEAM Whistle Workshops included many unique student workshops. Past workshops featured were Full STEAM Ahead, App and Games, Masters of Science, Artbotics, Data Science, GT GIRLS, Into the Storm, Maker Camp and Micro: Bit. The new workshops were adapted to fit the online format and included Human Powered Generator, Design Own Board Game, Kiragami Paper, Kitchen Chemist, Stop! Go! Animate, Coded Beats, and Moving Art.
GT GIRLS, a collaboration between CEISMC and CEISMC Savannah, featured guest speakers to present examples of women in engineering to the young girls.
Dr. Ellen Mazumdar, Assistant Professor featured at the Diversity Symposium, was one of the guest speakers in this program. The girls that attended the workshops during the week expressed the importance of what they learned from workshop leaders such as Dr. Mazumdar.
“This is important because a lot of young girls don’t understand that they can pursue engineering,” said one GT GIRLS student. “This camp has taught me so much about women empowerment.”
Additionally, the Horizons Virtual Program 2020 was modified to fit the new CEISMC Summer Programs. The Horizons program is designed to encourage students from under-served communities to realize their full potential, and the program is partnered with Centennial Academy, Drew Charter, and Hollis Innovation Academy. Scholars begin the program as rising 1st graders and stay with the program every summer until 9th grade.
This summer, the program was reduced to a three-week virtual program that operated daily from 9am – 3pm with scheduled breaks. The Horizons Program included asynchronous and synchronous instruction through google classroom, provided over 120 supply kits, and devices were given out as needed. To keep scholars engaged, every day began with 30 minutes of social time.
“We knew it would be important for them to have an opportunity to continue to build community, so we opened up every class by just 30 minutes of social time,” said Sirocus Barnes, Program Director at CEISMC.
Similar to the Workshops, Horizons provided a two-week long pre-planning Teacher Professional Development (PD). Teachers were given instruction on how to use the virtual learning software, were provided with tech support, and were given guidance on how to speak to scholars about racial injustices and current events.
“We received really great feedback from our teachers,” said Barnes. “A lot of our teachers talked about how the PD that we provided over the summer helped to better prepare them for their return back to school.”
The Horizons Program hosted 10 special events for the scholars that included guest speakers, advice from college admission counselors, and collaborative “field trips.” One collaborative event was the Virtual Dance Party which included a live DJ and was created in collaboration with Horizons Savannah.
In addition to online instruction, Horizons provided over 470 meals over the summer. The meal service surpassed the three-week program and provided meals for seven weeks. Meals were distributed to families at Hollis once a week and included enough meals for the entire week.
Overall, the CEISMC Summer 2020 Student Programs aimed to provide students with quality education online over the summer. The STEAM Whistle Workshops and the Horizons Virtual Program were implemented to meet these goals and worked to reimagine summer learning.
By Shannon Malone – CEISMC Communications