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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Tech opportunities abound for Reach for the Stars STEM

(Aug. 6, 2015) The Worcester County Economic Development (WCED) Reach for the Stars STEM Camp held recently at The Red Doors Community Center, introduced local children to applications for technology and engineering.
Selected by application in March, 28 Worcester students ages 12-15 have participated in computer programming, video game design, constructing submersible robots, creating hovercrafts, piloting drones and simulating a NASA spacewalk mission.  
“The objective of the Reach for the Stars project is to present science, technology, engineering and math [STEM] career opportunities to our highly talented students and to link them with those careers with businesses in Worcester County,” WCED Director Bill Badger said.
The Reach for the Stars STEM Camp is in its third year. Funded by the Worcester County Commissioners and administered through WCED, the goal of the camp is to get youth engaged and excited in STEM careers and technologies, preparing them for academic programs at the Worcester Technical High School and in university study.
During their experience, the campers have the opportunity to apply their STEM knowledge as high school and college students if they are accepted into WCED’s sister program, the STEP UP STEM Internship program, which pairs talented students with local employers in STEM fields to retain students in Worcester County after college graduation by giving them connections to local engineering, biomedical and information technology companies.
Hardwire LLC, EA Engineering Science and Technology, Atlantic General Hospital, Bel-Art, Maryland Coastal Bays,, West Ocean City Injury and Illness Center, Martin Physical Therapy, Studio Codeworks, and Sprout Creatives are among the workforce partners participating in the STEP UP Internship Program.
On July 30, a recognition ceremony took place at the Worcester County Government Center in Snow Hill to share the achievements of the interns and campers.
Camp coordinator and Red Doors Community Center director Fawn Mete partnered with NASA Wallops Island house robotics Team Titanium Wrecks, Peter Bale of the Eastern Shore Defense Alliance and Washington D.C.-based Studio Codeworks to plan a hands-on camp curriculum that would expose campers to a variety of STEM careers and applications in computer science and aerospace engineering.
Campers started by learning the basics of coding and how to think like a computer. Ryan Mete, a programmer for Studio Codeworks, then taught them how to write code from scratch to design and program their own video games. Campers invented their own characters, or “sprites,” which were then digitally rendered as graphics for their games by Salisbury University adjunct art faculty member Evan Fitzgerald. The campers then learned the basics of electronics and used their knowledge to design and construct their own working prototype game controllers to use with their games.
Team Titanium Wrecks joined in the action with its globally acclaimed FIRST robotics competition bot, demonstrating robotics applications, building line-tracking robots with the campers, programming with Raspberry Pi, constructing human hovercrafts and building SEAPERCH submersible robots.
Campers visited the Ocean Pines Sports Core pool and constructed the robots then navigated an underwater maze. The two best submersible robots were donated to the aquatics program for use in swimming lessons for children with special needs.
Peter Bale of the Eastern Shore Defense Alliance visited camp to introduce campers to the exciting world of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or drones. Campers practiced navigating drones and completed a search and recovery challenge using the devices. The final camp activity, a simulated space mission inspired by NASA’s famous Space Academy in Huntsville, Ala., was conducted by Fawn Mete and Alex Haglich. The campers worked in teams as Mission Control and as astronauts on a spacewalk to perform weightless construction underwater in the pool, which simulates a zero gravity environment in which astronauts make repairs to satellites, telescopes or the International Space Station.  
Contact WCED Deputy Director Merry Mears at 410-632-3112, or Mete at, 410-289-5576.