Camp prepares rising middle-schoolers

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 11, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY — Some rising sixth-graders are getting a taste of what middle school will be like when they arrive later this month.
Thirty future Knox Middle School students have been attending camp at Horizons Unlimited this week, where they’ve been learning about everything from water quality to forensic science.
The camp, dubbed Scientists and Engineers Entering Knox (SEEK), has provided the students with hands-on learning opportunities to get them prepared for middle school curriculum.
“Our hope is that it gives these guys an edge,” Anne Ellis, science specialist at Horizons, said.
Ellis, who taught at Knox for seven years, said she had the idea for the camp this year as a way to get more middle schoolers interested in science and engineering.
But, she said, the camp also includes lessons on team-building and goal setting that can be applied in any real-world setting.
“We’ve learned about our comfort zone and stepping out of our comfort zone,” Ellis said. “Elementary school is so different from middle school you have to watch out for yourself. Teachers aren’t going to stand over you.
“We have taught them that if you don’t understand you have to ask for help.”
The camp will wrap up today with a lesson in Lego robotics. Students will get to design and build their own robots.
Ellis said Knox, which has been designated a Science, Technology Engineering, Math (STEM) school, has a Lego robotics lab that sixth-graders use throughout the year.
Keyshawn Eller, 12, said the camp has helped him expand on basic science concepts.
“I’ve learned even more than I already knew,” he said. “I learned new things every day.”
Bethanie Stauffer said she enjoyed going to the creek at Catawba College’s Nature Center to test the water quality by examining the types of insects that live there.
“It looked dirty, but it turned out it was good for drinking,” she said.
Bethanie said she’s always liked science and the camp has given her the opportunity to explore the forensic side.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” she said.
She’s also enjoyed getting to know her fellow classmates.
“It’s been great to meet different people who are going to be in our class next year,” Bethanie said.
Ellis said the free camp had students from all five of Knox’s feeder schools.
As the camp wraps up today, Ellis hopes the students will leave with a sense of confidence as they bridge over to middle school.
“I want them to be successful and really be all over science,” she said.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.