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"Camping" at the Lab This Summer

Jim Correll, director Fab Lab ICC at Independence Community College, Independence Kansas 

It was especially difficult to sit through last summer without the normal “boot” and “STEM” camps, no kids at the Lab. I understand why it had to be that way. I’m someone who for my whole life has learned best “doing” even though I never have had any trouble “making the grade” from boring textbook material. At this point in my life, I believe that nearly all learning should be project-based with students working on projects in a Lab environment with periodic visits to the classroom only to learn enough from the textbooks to proceed with the next project steps. Each student’s progress on their projects can be measured with an ap. The student projects that are running into difficulty pop up on the facilitator’s screen as yellow and red lights so as to indicate who needs help. Everyone moves forward at their own pace, with help along the way when and if and needed. This is the way all learning should be facilitated, certainly not forcing all students through learning at the same pace, the pace of the student needing the most help. It has been especially difficult to watch students fall behind in the last year due to the closing of school buildings and the attempts at online learning. The vast majority of teachers and administrators did the best they could with the difficult situation, but the truth is that most people don’t do that well with online learning even under the best of conditions, let alone during a pandemic. Back to the camps. 

In-Person Camps Resume This Summer 

Our in-person camps will resume this summer starting early in June with our weeklong morning camps in collaboration with the Greenbush learning cooperative. This year’s Verizon STEM program for middle school girls will kick off with the 3-week long day camp in mid-July. Mask protocols have changed even since early planning for the camps and may change again. Campers should all be ready to wear their masks if required: however, barring any drastic events, it looks like masks may be optional by the time the camps start. 

Here is a summary of the camp opportunities. There is a charge for the Greenbush camps (except there is no charge for the Community Solutions Camp, see summaries below) however, I have some scholarships available based on need. Feel free to contact me for details about those scholarships. For the girls STEM camp, Verizon has arranged to pay all the expenses, so registration is without charge. Find links to registration for all camps at 

Fab Lab Fun - 3rd - 12th Grades (June 7-10th) 9AM to 11AM 

From laser engraving, wood working, 3D Art, Vinyl poster and sign making, students are exposed to some of the FABulous tools the Fab Lab has to offer. Students will leave this four day camp with a laser engraved name tag, a shelf, a vinyl poster of their design, a laser engraved mug or tumbler and a 3D cardboard art replica. 

Robotics Camp - 3rd - 12th Grades (June 14-17th) 9AM to 11AM 

Learn to program an EV3 Mindstorm robot to solve real world problems related to exercise and movement in this friendly competitive format.  Campers will compete in teams to see whose robot can complete the most missions through friendly cooperation.  With an emphasis on gracious professionalism, all students are guaranteed to learn and have a good time! 

Design it, build it, take it home - 3rd - 12th Grades (June 21st-24th) 9AM to 11AM 

Students will have access to cutting edge tools for design, experimentation, problem solving, and making custom artwork to build a unique item. 

Community Solutions Camp - June 28th-July 1st for IHS students 8:30AM to 11:30AM 

Have you ever wanted to get involved in your community but not know where to start? Join us at the Fab Lab @ ICC to learn more about how you can help your community while using cutting edge tools and working with community leaders to improve our town of Independence, KS. This is a great way to earn Service Learning hours! This camp is FREE for Independence High School students. 

Verizon Innovative Learning Girls STEM Program 

This is a free year-long STEM enrichment program for girls going into grades 6-8. 

Every young girl deserves access to a better future. That's why we've launched the Verizon Innovative Learning program for rural young women - an engaging year-long program where they'll learn design thinking, 3D printing, augmented reality, and social entrepreneurship. Designed to create a more diverse pipeline for future careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) fields; no prior knowledge or experience is required. 

We’re looking forward to seeing the kids back in the Lab for these camps this summer. There is a lot of learning packed into each camp, disguised as fun projects, let alone the face-to-face interactions, even if at a bit more than normal distance. The camp experiences should jump-start a few dozen brains, reminding them of how much fun learning can be when based around hands-on projects. 

Jim Correll is the director of Fab Lab ICC at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship on the campus of Independence Community College. He can be reached at (620) 252-5349 or by email at Archive columns and podcasts at 

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