About the Compute-STEM Summer Camp
Designed in collaboration with NAVWAR, the Compute-STEM summer camp was a 2-week residential summer STEM camp for students interested in coding, virtual reality, and real-world applications. This camp was open to students entering grades 7 & 8 in the fall of 2019 and ran from July 22nd through August 2nd.
The STEM WORK at Sea curriculum developed in 2016, focused on some of the science and engineering of a typical battleship. The battleship was presented as a floating city, with a Naval mission. The STEM topics include understanding motors and generators, navigation, nutrition, water systems, power and electrical systems. For this camp, we modified and extended the curriculum to use programming applications and virtual reality resources to deeply explore STEM activities derived from those listed previously. Students learned basic python coding and explored our Virtual Reality Lab, using the ClassVR platform and VictoryVR software via the Oculus Rift platform. Teams will investigate how motors and generators work, analyze water, assess food substances for nutritional content, build and test simple electrical circuits, and explore the USS New Jersey. Shipboard they will come to appreciate the STEM it takes to complete a mission. Back at camp, campers were assigned a specific topical area that supports the mission. They were charged with the project of developing a computer program that meets two requirements. The first is that it demonstrates understanding of the basic science and the second is that it provides a means to assess of needs, resources, capacity and costs for each necessary component and options for fulfilling those needs. For example, a ship housing personnel will have needs for fresh/potable water and grey water based on the number of personnel. The ship has a capacity that may need to be replenished, this replenishment option will depend on the ship’s mission. To meet the basic science requirement, students would develop a program to assess water purity based on data from laboratory samples created to simulate water from common sources. For the second component, students created a python-based program using a variety of mathematical computations and estimates for a scenario of a ship mission. The overall deliverable is a program that provides information necessary to fulfill the need for water on-board the ship. Students, working in groups, created a marketing document and created a presentation to “sell” their application to the Navy as a “software package” to support and improve efficiency of operations. This “share and extend” session was part of our culminating event. During camp, campers attended lunch & learns. The lunch & learn series provided an introduction to the topic, a look at how the topic integrates into naval STEM, and future real-world applications.