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HCC launches STEM summer camps for teens/young adults with disabilities

Jun 17, 2019

 

Houston Community College’s (HCC) VAST Academy may have a unique version of Silicon Valley with its Explore STEM Summer Camps for persons with disabilities. The free Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) camps will welcome students, 14-22, to participate in weeklong camps, held in June and July.
 
Thanks to grant of $69,000 from the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), the number of camps offered will double to four this summer and will be held at three HCC campuses.
 
“Last year, we had two camps, with 25 students,” said Sue Moraska, Program Director for the VAST Academy, which stands for Vocation Advancement Skills Training. “This year, we have four camps and 60 students, so far.”
 
One of the final projects of the teams, when they prepare for their parent reception, is to make posters that say, “I can…” or “We Can…” and complete the sentence with their dreams or goals for the future, such as become a “software developer,” “computer programmer,” or “robotic engineer.”

Those capabilities include the skills they will learn in the camps, which will be held at HCC Central, West Houston Institute, and HCC Stafford campuses. The camps begin June 17 and end July 19.
 
To those who are not of a STEM mindset, the camp topics can seem daunting, but VAST instructor Dr. Wren Bump views them as fun.
 
“I tell them that, what we are teaching you will help you make a whole lot more money than I do,” laughed Dr. Bump, who will lead the first camp on Robotics at HCC Central.
 
Besides learning skills to help them in the workforce, which is the mission of the VAST Academy, the STEM Camp students will also be exposed to actual TWC/HCC business partnerships. Already on board to visit this summer are Hewlett Packard, BMW, MD Anderson, Dancy Design Engineering and University of Houston representatives.

Participants in the summer camp often enroll at HCC’s VAST Academy afterward; even high school students can contact Houston Independent School District’s one-year transitional program at HCC Central. However, VAST Academy students must be identified as having either ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) or IDD (Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities) to qualify for enrollment.
 
The Explore STEM Summer Camp is open to those individuals, as well as others with disabilities, and all see a great improvement in their skills by the end of the week.
 
“They feel a sense of accomplishment, and they meet new people,” said Dr. Bump. “I see a big change in all of them from Monday to Friday. It’s great to see them having so much fun, but also to see them feel so good about themselves.”

All Explore VAST Summer Camps are held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Lunch is not provided, so students are advised to bring a snack or box lunch. Details are below:

CAMP 1—ROBOTICS
June 17 – 21
9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
HCC Central Campus, 1301 Alabama
Instructor, Dr. Wren Bump
 
• Build and program LEGO robots
• Print a 3-D object
• Explore virtual reality & go to Houston Museum of Natural Science

CAMP 2—BUILD a PC
June 24 – 28
9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
HCC West Houston Institute, 2811 Hayes Rd
Instructor, Steven Russell
 
• Build a PC with a team
• Learn about PC hardware & operating systems
 
CAMP 3—APPLE SWIFT CODING
July 8 – 12
9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
HCC Stafford Campus, 9910 Cash Rd
Instructor, Micheal Phillips
 
• Building apps for iOS, Mac, Apple TV, and Apple Watch
 
• Discover different employment fields that use Apple Swift coding
 
CAMP 4—APPLE SWIFT CODING
July 15 – 19
9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
HCC West Houston Institute, 2811 Hayes Rd
Instructor, Micheal Phillips
 
• Building apps for iOS, Mac, Apple TV, and Apple Watch
 
• Discover different employment fields that use Apple Swift coding

 

To enroll in the Explore Summer STEM Camps, contact: 713-718-5194 or barbara.fields@hccs.edu. For more information on the VAST Academy, visit hccs.edu/vast.


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