Lawson State Community College’s πSTEM E3 Summer Enrichment Institute 2018

From June 4-28, 2018, Lawson State Community College hosted the πSTEM E3 Summer Enrichment Institute (SEI) 2018, which provided students with a structured environment customized to enhance their academic performance in STEM courses and exposure to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers.  

During this four-week experience, GEAR UP Birmingham students and other students from the surrounding Birmingham metropolitan area were involved in classroom and field trip activities that included ACT prep in math, science, and engineering activities – robotics, coding, Raspberry Pi, bridge building, and DNA/bio exploration.  

One of the camp activities, the Raspberry Pie Program, held on the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s (UAB) campus, was a camp favorite. Here students learned the different levels of coding. “I think the students found coding the most interesting,” said Labrina Riles, a student intern from the University of Montevallo. “Learning how to program something and seeing it come to life really got them excited.”

Students also participated in various field experiences at four-year universities thanks to the partnership with UAB, Alabama A&M University, and Alabama State University. While visiting universities, students had an opportunity to tour various research facilities. Jameria Simmons, a rising sophomore at Wenonah High School, enjoyed taking field trips to various higher education institutes because it allowed her to experience what it feels like to be on a college campus. In addition, Simmons believed that if she continued to return to camp each year, she will be more than prepared for college.

As a bonus, camp interns also stressed the development of an appreciation for some of the literary greats – Langston Hughes, Benjamin E. Mayes, William Arthur Ward, William Earnest Henley, and Edgar A. Guest. 

A culminating program was held on June 28, 2018, for students. Student volunteers reflected on every focus area of SEI and shared recitations from the literary greats. Students not only received a certificate of excellence for their participation, but they also received a stipend. A visit to Clark Atlanta University on June 29, served as the ultimate ending to an awesome experience.

Dr. Calvin Briggs, Program Director and Co-Principal Investigator, supported the array of activities that students participated in. Daily camp activities were led by Mr. DeZell Plump, SEI Supervisor, with support from Dr. Kena Byrd, Project Assistant.

Cedric Riggins, a student intern from Tuskegee University, hoped that the campers walked away from Lawson State STEM Enrichment Institute understanding why STEM fields are sought out and the purpose of them in the workplace. Lastly, Riggins wanted campers to know that “every experience can be learned from, and learning can be done anywhere.”

Lawson State Community College, located in the southwestern section of Birmingham, is composed of two main divisions – an academic division and a career/technical division. It is nationally ranked as a top-five Community College. Lawson State programs are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS COC).  

Author: Dr. Marsha H. Savage

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