Summer offers a break from school for students, but it also provides an opportunity for students to explore special interests. The Institute provides camp opportunities throughout the year on non-school days including winter and spring breaks.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, researchers have identified summer as a potential danger zone for students because many of them lose ground over the summer in terms of reading and other skills they learned in school. Educators refer to this as “summer learning loss.”  Children in low-income communities are especially at risk. 

The Institute hosted eight summer STEM camps for 150 youth in kindergarten through ninth grade. Camp topics included Minecraft, forensic science, chemistry, cybersecurity, drones, astronomy, and robotics. 

Camp partners included Dan River Year AmeriCorps and the Pittsylvania County and Danville Virginia Cooperative Extension Offices. 

Dana Silicki, IALR Program Coordinator, said the camps provided students with exposure to new ideas and careers. “Students were able to explore many different aspects of STEM throughout each camp and realized that STEM opportunities are endless, fun, and suitable for every age.”

Jill Collins explains NSA Day of Cyber challenge to Kaleb Hyler (left) and Alex Smith. NSA Day of Cyber is a free, online program that allows students to experience a day in the life of the nation’s top cybersecurity experts.

AmeriCorps members, Kyla Lipscomb (left) and Morgan Jones, help Brodie Buchanan prepare for the “exploding baggie” science experiment (a chemical reaction using baking soda and vinegar).

Sophie Doss, Jessie Vernon, and Kennedy Pruitt (left to right) use microscopes to investigate the stomata of a plant; a structure on the surface of a leaf that modulates gas exchange between the plant and its environment.