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Hands-on learning at camp

Grace Dean uses a prosthetic hand she made to write on the board. Photo by Wendi Reardon (click for larger version)
July 02, 2014 - Grace Dean picked up a dry erase marker with the prosthetic hand she just finished making during RUSHing Girls to Engineering Summer Camp, June 18.

She pulled the strings she had glued to the hand as she used the prosthetic to write on the white dry erase board.

The strings moved the fingers of the hand perfectly as Dean finished writing out the word as other campers completed their final touches.

The girls in the camp learned different areas of engineering throughout the week, explained Laura Kalinowski, a Clarkston High School teacher.

"We talk about what it is and the making, the doing and the problem solving," she added.

Besides creating prosthetic hands, they learned about 3-D printing and how they two go together. The campers also worked with coding and hydrolaulics during this year's camp.

"We try to cover as many branches as we can so the girls have an overall experience while doing hands-on activities they can take home with them and share with their parents and siblings," Kalinowski said.

She added campers are excited to take home their projects and show them to their family and friends.

"It is exciting when they see something they have done and how it works," she said. "Or they problem solved so it works. They just light up. They are excited to share it with their friends in class."

During the week, the campers are assisted by the camp counselors who are members of the Women in Engineering Club at the high school.

"There is this connection from the high school girls to instill the love of engineering they have to the younger girls," Kalinowski added. "So as these girls grow older they don't have the misconception engineering is only for boys. As they get older there are less girls coming through the program. This is our way of reaching back to remind them engineering is fun and exciting. It is making and doing."

The camp is for girls going into grades fourth through seventh. Kalinowski added they had a few girls repeating the camp because every year they introduce new activities. Also, she has seen the camp grown over the last seven years from just five campers up to 18 this year.

"They are recognizing this is an exciting field to be a part of," Kalinowski said. "There are a lot of things they can do which doesn't relate to the automobile industry. Being a part of that from early on only helps them further on. They might not realize there is a barrier."

RUSHing Girls to Engineering Summer Camp is offered through Clarkston Community Education. For more information, please visit www.clarkston.k12.mi.us/cec or call 248-625-4326.

Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007. Follow Clarkston sports on Twitter @CNewsWRSports.
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