Photo of STEM campers working with robotics

August 4, 2022 - 

Offering five new workshops along with Robotics, Stop Motion Animation, Forensics and other favorites, the Westfield STEM Camp was back in-person this summer after a two-year pause due to COVID-19.

“All the workshops involve hands-on, problem-based learning activities having to do with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math,” says Edison Intermediate School Industrial Arts teacher Sean Bonasera, who co-directs the camp with Laura Paiva, a computer technology teacher at Edison.  

Begun in 2013 and taught by 11 Westfield Public School teachers with a passion for STEM education, this year’s STEM Camp welcomed 108 campers in grades 6-8 and 168 in grades 3-5 for weeklong sessions during which campers participated in 4 workshops consisting of hands-on, real world STEM activities.  The sessions ran from July 11-29 with such offerings as “DNA:  Cracking the Code of Life,” “Engineering Design Challenges,” “Mind Blowing Experiments,” “Natural Disaster Survival,” “Robotics Exploration,” and “Mission Impossible” which had campers learning about the science of optics and decoding messages.

“There is much to love about this program but what comes immediately to mind is just how much fun the students have while participating in these authentic learning experiences,” says Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Programs Dr. Paul Pineiro.  “Mr. Bonasera, Ms. Paiva, and the instructors continually evolve the modules each year to include the latest technologies and most engaging activities.”

Another new workshop was “Makey Space,” with Roosevelt instrumental music instructor James Doyle first introducing a circuit board known as a Makey Makey board. 

“Through hands-on learning, the circuit boards teach the students about how to create a simple circuit and the conductivity of different materials, all while interacting with an online apps,” Bonasera explains.  “As the week progresses, the campers get comfortable with the understanding of how to wire their boards to create different sounds effects. By the end of the week, the campers have creatively designed their own instruments out of cardboard and different conductive materials.”

Bonasera and Paiva say they hope campers came away with the mindset that “learning can be challenging yet still fun” while developing their creativity, ingenuity, and problem-solving skills. 

“STEM Camp is important because it provides the kids the opportunity to have exposure to different experiences and technologies.  Campers are learning to integrate knowledge from the different areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math without solely focusing on any one discipline,” says Bonasera.  “STEM Camp provides an environment that gives campers the ability to innovate and create without the structure of a typical classroom. They are developing their knowledge, critical thinking skills, teamwork and communication skills all while having fun.”