Annual STEM-based youth summer camp returns … CCPREP campers demonstrate skills during robot races and other competitions
Article by Melinda Eddleman
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 marked an unusual year for youth who were used to attending summer camps. This summer, that lack of opportunity was no longer at Del Mar College.
The College’s Corpus Christi Prefreshman Engineering Program (CCPREP), a summer camp for inquisitive sixth through ninth graders, started back again; but, the 2021 camp was somewhat smaller as protocols were still practiced to ensure kids stayed safe.
And, on July 15, the 37 CCPREP campers were put to the test with competitions to demonstrate the knowledge and skills they acquired in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects during the past six weeks.
Students competed in robot races, where teams programmed their custom-made robotic vehicles to navigate a race course; engaged in strength tests of plastic straw bridges built to demonstrate campers’ understanding of engineering principles; and showed off architectural model communities designed under the mentorship of members from the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
While most youth the same age spent part of their summer sleeping in, watching videos or gaming, CCPREP 2021 participants dedicated their time to hitting the books, building architectural and robotic wonders, hearing guest lectures from experts and learning more about the possibilities that STEM fields have in store for them after completing their primary and college-level education.
It’s no surprise that logical processes and problem-solving are central to the CCPREP experience here at Del Mar College.
The CCPREP camp co-director adds, “With added exposure to current professionals in a wide variety of STEM-related careers, we believe our program not only provides important analytical tools to help all students succeed but also encourages them to find a course of study that they can pursue with passion for the rest of their lives.”
CCPREP is the local camp offered as part of the statewide Texas Prefreshman Engineering Program initiative.
The summer camp is free to all participants and made possible with funding from Flint Hills Resources Corpus Christi, the lead sponsor, with additional support from Del Mar College, the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the Texas Department of Transportation, Citgo and the University of Texas at San Antonio.
The program targets high ability middle through high school students interested in pursuing careers in STEM fields. CCPREP is challenging and rigorous, including classroom study, homework and group projects. Campers are also exposed to various career opportunities with experts covering areas supported by STEM. This year’s career representatives talked about careers ranging from accounting; computer science; and various engineering options to meteorology, nursing and other topics. Guest speakers represented various organizations and companies, including the Corpus Christi Army Depot, Chemours, Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries, Del Mar College, Flint Hills Resources, KOCH, National Weather Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Valero Energy and the 148 Nueces County District Court.
Of this year’s smaller camp, Shollenberger adds, “ Overall, CCPREP 2021 participants will have benefitted from a hands-on college experience this summer.”
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Del Mar College empowers students to achieve their dreams. We offer quality programs, individual attention, outstanding instruction through faculty with real-world experience and affordable costs to credit and noncredit students in Corpus Christi and the South Texas Coastal Bend area. Nationally recognized while locally focused, we’re ranked in the top two percent of community colleges in the country granting associate degrees to Hispanic students (Community College Week). Del Mar College focuses on offering our students programs that match current or emerging career opportunities. Whether students are interested in the fine arts, sciences, business, occupational or technical areas, students get the education they need for the future they want at Del Mar College.