Community College of Philadelphia presents college science experience for middle schoolers

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A summer camp focused on science, technology and math just wrapped up at Community College of Philadelphia. But the campers weren't college students. They weren't even high school students. It was the school's first STEM camp for middle school students.

About 50 seventh and eighth graders took part in the four-week STEM Academy Virtual Summer Camp. Kids were taught math in the online morning sessions, then they worked in Minecraft and did coding in the afternoon. 

Students presented their creations Thursday at an online "Demonstration Day."

Malika Staton, a seventh-grader at Friends Select, created a Magic 8 Ball app. "When you open the app, you will see the Magic 8 Ball. And when you shake your phone, you will hear a clinking teaspoon," she said. "You can press on the Magic 8 Ball and ask some questions and it’ll answer them in random order."

Students used the MIT App Inventor software to develop their apps. STEM counselor Juliet Popeil supervised the classes.

"By the end of the week, even though I was walking them through it more step by step early on, they were able to really just take the reins," Popeil said.

"As the camp went on and they got more comfortable with the platform I gave them a bit more creative freedom where they had time to really make the apps their own."

Stephanie Austin-Johnson, STEM college experience coordinator at CCP, said the program was a way to keep younger students engaged with learning in the summer.

"This is our first time venturing into middle school grades, because we do feel it’s important to reach kids as early as possible and introduce them to the world of STEM," she said

Austin-Johnson said the apps developed in camp would soon be available free in the Google Play store.