Betabox and GEAR UP Fayetteville State University Launch STEM Enrichment Camp

In Field Trip Stories by Sean Newman Maroni

Building Robot Cars at Summer Camp? Sign Me Up!

During the month of June, Betabox and the GEAR UP program at Fayetteville State University partnered to create a STEM enrichment camp for two different cohorts of their rising 10th and 11th graders. While we have partnered with both the GEAR UP and Upward Bound programs at the university for the past few years, this was Betabox’s first opportunity to work with their students for 4 weeks of non-stop hands-on projects. We knew we had to bring something fun, exciting, and educational for their students at their summer STEM enrichment camp, and we were able to present a plan to the university that we all agreed would do the trick!

To get things started, we delivered 100 of our Self-Driving Car kits and 100 of our Microcontroller kits to the university where they were then distributed to the registered student campers. In addition to being able to keep their kits at the end of the STEM enrichment camp, each student received a Betabox t-shirt and some Betabox swag. One of the great things about our kits is that they can be used both in the classroom with teacher-led instruction as well as at home during one of our virtual sessions with a Betabox Guide. For this STEM enrichment camp, the students all worked remotely from home with Betabox Certified Instructors guiding the projects over Zoom. 

During the first week of the STEM enrichment camp, our first cohort of students immersed themselves in our Self-Driving Car project. In this project, students learned about electrical engineering, manufacturing, and network engineering, while building autonomous vehicles that they can control right from their laptops. We loved seeing students progress through the different stages of the project, from troubleshooting issues with car assembly to being able to solve networking issues on their own in real time. The best part was seeing the students’ excitement when they successfully connected the cars! Our Instructors loved kicking off the week with such an engaged group!

Once the Self-Driving Cars were driving themselves, we switched things up for the second week of STEM enrichment camp and had our students start our brand-new Microcontrollers project. With this project, students were first introduced to circuit design by assembling simple circuits on a workbench. Next, they learned to program Arduinos and breadboard through a series of exciting projects including blinking LEDs, dimmer switches, music makers, and more.  

For the third and fourth week of the STEM enrichment camp, we worked with a different cohort of students to complete the same projects. Both cohorts brought great energy and a determined attitude to camp for all sessions; our Instructors enjoyed the time we had with them. Throughout the entire month, we offered access to our “Go Live 1:1” instruction for students that needed extra time, support, troubleshooting, or questions that couldn’t be addressed during their session. Just like the way we support the teachers through our Educator Memberships by offering real-time support and 1:1 instructional coaching, this feature ensures students can fully complete their projects regardless of their skill level. 

The partnership with GEAR UP at Fayetteville State has been synergistic from the start. Both groups have a shared mission to deliver high-quality hands-on STEM projects and curriculum to students and teachers, and it has created a long-term partnership that we hope to extend for many years to come. We do not take the trust that they place in us lightly, and we were excited to deliver such an impactful experience to their students this summer! 

Are you a GEAR UP grant recipient or interested in learning more about Betabox? Find a time to speak with us here.