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Penta program tries to show science is fun

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STEM counselor Cassie Kaptur, bottom right, ties a rope holding the mast of a large wooden viking ship in place as part of a construction carpentry program during camp at Penta,

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Katie Bossa, preparing for eighth grade at Perrysburg Junior High School, never thought science was fun before spending this week at Penta Career Center‘‍s STEM camp.

“It helped me learn, otherwise I didn’‍t think science was fun,” she said. “It is fun building robots and rockets to me.”

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics were the foundation for the week of activities for 100 area seventh, eighth, and ninth grade students. Each day at he school in Perrysburg Township, students were in different labs or classrooms that had hands-on activities to learn new things.

Students built water-powered rockets using manufacturing technologies, built a 40-foot Viking ship using construction carpentry; performed egg drops using plant biotechnology, and conducted DNA extraction from strawberries. With geographic information systems students had a mapping adventure outside and with computer hardware networking they had an alien robotics course and challenge.

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Austin Berkebile, going into ninth grade at Perrysburg next year, said his favorite course was alien robotics.

“We ran over so many trees,” Austin said about his robot on a miniature “alien” course on a few tables in a classroom. “For the robots, everything is based on sensors on where to go.”

While he had fun with learning with his hands this week, he doesn‘‍t plan to attend Penta. 

That wasn’‍t the case for Alexandra Priddy. She attended two STEM camps years ago and now is a camp counselor and will enter her senior year at Penta.

“I love it,” she said. “I love teaching kids and helping them get the experience I had. I still have friends at Penta that I made from STEM camp.”

Ken Nelson, computer, hardware and networking technologies instructor at Penta, said he enjoyed working with younger students and introducing them to having fun working with science. He said science sometimes isn‘t considered ‍i exciting to students anymore.

“I wanted to be an astronaut; that (career choice) is not as cool now,” he said. “This gets them thinking about it and seeing how it is cool.”

It is “awesome,” he said, after watching students have to trouble-shoot and find solutions in manners that often don’t occur in a classroom setting. ‍ Watching the trail and error methods by which students learn is what Mr. Nelson enjoyed.

After launching her rocket, Katie said she now knows a water bottle would go further and she wouldn‘‍t have picked the heavier 2-liter. She did mention her 2-liter did the best in the group.

Contact Matt Thompson at: mthompson@theblade.com, 419-356-8786, or on Twitter at @mthompson25.

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