STEM camp projects unveiled Friday at PHCC

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A teams of girls presented one of the 10 projects as the Verizon Girl’s Innovative Learning Summer Camp drew to a close Friday at the Stuart site of Patrick Henry Community College.
Participants in the Cheap Houses For You project presented their ideas Friday at the conclusion of the three-week long STEM camp.

By Hyacinth Fiorenzo

The Stuart site of Patrick Henry Community College was bustling with activity this past Friday as dozens of area middle school girls excitedly presented intricate STEM projects to their community.

The Verizon Girl’s Innovative Learning Summer Camp hosted its second annual three week long course geared towards training future female leaders in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM.) The camp offered participants the opportunity to learn design thinking strategies, work with 3D printers, augmented and virtual reality platforms, vinyl cutting technology and encouraged social entrepreneurship.

In 2017 PHCC was one of only five national schools chosen to launch Verizon’s pilot program specifically for girls in grades 6-8 who are interested in STEM education and experiences. “This is great for teaching the girls to think like a scientist,” said PHCC teacher Holly Dillon. “It also encourages them branch out and do things that they may have not considered before.”

The three-week course and all materials were fully funded by Verizon. Participants were granted access to cutting edge technology and challenged to utilize every aspect in order to complete group projects which would have a positive impact on their immediate community. According to Dillon, the girls were expected to “incorporate their community, figure out ways that they can improve their community, introduce a product or a service that will help their community, and it all had to be sustainable.”

In their project entitled “Electric, Not Gas” participants Xena Wilcox, 11, and Jettie Flippin, 12, chose to focus on what they believe to be the future of transportation. As with all other groups, the girls prepared a virtual reality video short to showcase their passion for electric cars. Then they took things a step further and fashioned a working electric, battery powered vehicle. Both girls were thrilled to be a part of the summer camp. “This helped all us girls see how much STEM is a part of building our future and how it all impacts our society,” Wilcox said.

Other girls were drawn to assist their communities in ways that spanned far beyond the scope of traditional STEM areas. “Suicide is close to my heart because I’ve lost a loved one to it,” said Rachel Branch, 11. Rachel was part of a trio of girls whose project was entitled “Suicide Test.” More of a utilization of various strategies to steer their target participant towards mental health than an actual test, their work was serious and well researched.

“Many people don’t know where to turn or what to do,” said Lemia Lemons, 9. So the girls designed and 3D printed a community suicide prevention resource center and mental therapy respite model. Their accompanying virtual video was a comforting view of a babbling brook. “We want to show people that they have a place to go and to get help,” said Anaiyah Davis, 12. She added that one of the best aspects of the camp was learning how to work together as a team. “This was the first time I actually enjoyed working as a team,” she said. Admitting that their very different personalities made for an interesting team dynamic, Davis said, “We would have our disagreements and take some time and learn how to work it out together. This was really about team effort.”

In addition to familiarizing themselves with various types of STEM technology and building teamwork skills, the girls also had the opportunity to speak with some of Patrick County’s most influential female leaders. Speakers such as Patrick County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Dayna Babbitt and Dr. Angeline Godwin, president of Patrick Henry Community College. The speakers explained how they were led to their particular career path. They spoke of their educational requirements, challenges they have faced, and offered words of encouragement for the upcoming generation of female leaders.

This year’s camp concluded 11 projects and 32 of a possible 50 participants; an increase from the 25 girls involved in 2018.

“We’d love to see more involvement,” said Dillon, who admitted it has been “difficult to reach max in a rural community.” All in all, PHCC is pleased with the numbers and the girls couldn’t be happier. They’re each going home with their own tablet, courtesy of Verizon, and an invigorated interest in STEM programs. 

The girls agreed that the camp was a productive way to spend their summer. “If I wasn’t here I would be sitting at home,” said Emma Dellinger, 12. “Here, we’re doing something. It’s not work. It’s fun.”

The following projects were presented by girls in the PHCC Verizon Girl’s Innovative Learning Summer Camp:

Protect Life Underwater

Abigail Bryant, 11, Stuart Elementary

Carrington Fain, 10, Stuart Elementary

Recycle Tech

Taylor Lawless, 10, Hardin Reynolds Elementary

Sadie Wingfield, 10, Woolwine Elementary

Maggie Easter, 12, Blue Ridge Elementary

Electric Not Gas

Xena Wilcox, 11, Meadows of Dan Elementary

Jettie Flippin, 12, Homeschool

Save the Owls

Zoe Hough, 12, Stuart Elementary

Madison Mills, 12, Hardin Reynolds Elementary

Dana Wilcox, 11, Meadows of Dan Elementary

Reasons to Recycle

Emily Ring, 12, Woolwine Elementary

Emma Dellinger, 12, Stuart Elementary

Cheap Houses for You

Eden Nickston, 11, Stuart Elementary

Peyton Hazelwood, 10, Stuart Elementary

Jazmyne Reynolds, 10, Stuart Elementary

Save the Red Wolves

Haley Lawson, 12, Hardin Reynolds Elementary

Gracie Crowell, 13, Patrick County High School

Stop Puppy Mills

Eden Issacs, 10, Millennium Charter Academy

Brianne Cannox, 12, Stuart Elementary

Kya Pruitt, 11, Stuart Elementary

Claire Issacs, 12, Blue Ridge Elementary

Save the Box Turtles

Hayden Lawless, 11, Hardin Reynolds Elementary

Journey Moore, 11, Stuart Elementary

Summer Fain, 12, Homeschool

Pet Adoption

Emmi Pack, 10, Blue Ridge Elementary

Callie Wood, 11, Meadows of Dan Elementary

Trinity Lawson, 10, Hardin Reynolds Elementary