Doing What’s Best for Kids

Westwood Community High School's Power Up STEM Camp Program

Posted on: General News

(Fort McMurray, AB - May 31st, 2024) Westwood Community High School recently revived its much-loved Power Up STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) camp program, bringing together the community for a day of energy and environmental education. Held on Saturday, May 25th, the camp offered elementary students from Fort McMurray an opportunity to immerse themselves in hands-on learning experiences guided by the school’s Green Initiative environmental club.

The Power Up STEM camp was launched in 2019 and was a resounding success. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic thwarted plans for a follow-up event in April 2020, leading to a long hiatus. By the time restrictions were lifted, the original student organizers had graduated, creating a gap in the program’s mentorship chain that had been a hallmark.

Undeterred, the 2022-2023 Green Initiative group took it upon themselves to breathe new life into the camp. They spent months revisiting and reimagining the activities from 2019, infusing them with fresh ideas and enthusiasm. Interestingly, five current mentors attended the camp as elementary students in 2019, further fueling their passion to revive the program for a new generation.

The camp started with a morning icebreaker to get everyone comfortable and engaged. From there, attendees broke into small groups to rotate through a series of interactive learning stations:

  • Ecology Through Virtual Reality: Using VR headsets, students explored different ecosystems and learned about the importance of biodiversity.
  • Oil Spill Cleanup: A hands-on activity where students simulated an oil spill and experimented with various cleanup methods.
  • Carbon Footprint Estimation: Students calculated their carbon footprints and brainstormed ways to reduce them.
  • Escape Room Challenge: Groups collaborated to solve energy and environmental puzzles.
  • Wind Turbine Construction: Attendees built wind turbine blades and measured the power they produced.

In the afternoon, activities shifted outdoors for a large-group geocaching scavenger hunt and solar car assembly. Solar cars were a hit, especially since students had to take them home as keepsakes.

The day concluded with a trivia challenge that recapped the day’s learning, followed by a grand prize giveaway and a group photo with the mentors. The one-on-one mentorship provided by senior high students ensured that all attendees had a safe, inquiry-based experience.

Feedback from both attendees and mentors was overwhelmingly positive.

Ansh Ramani, a former attendee turned mentor, reflected, “Considering some of us were past attendees, it was nostalgic because we could see how the mentors back then affected us and how we can affect a new wave of students.”

Iqra Ghias added, “It was a good learning experience for us, and it was great to see how driven the kids were by their passion to learn more.”

Tanishka Chouhan, a 2019 attendee, noted, “I was able to relive my experience of when I attended and being able to pass on my knowledge and experience as a mentor five years later.”

Now in its 12th school year, the Green Initiative environmental club aims to host a STEM camp each spring and fall, with the next event scheduled for September. Corporate partnerships have been crucial to the program’s success, and fundraising efforts are underway to upgrade the technology for future camps. The ultimate goal is to create an unbroken chain of energy and environmental mentorship within the Fort McMurray community and the environmental club.

The Power Up STEM camp stands as a testament to the enduring impact of mentorship and the power of community-driven initiatives. Here’s to many more years of inspiring the next generation of scientists, engineers, and environmental stewards.

For additional information, contact:

Momin Syed                                                           
Communications Coordinator
Fort McMurray Public School Division