Soon-to-be Menomonie Middle School students Tanner Husby and Ryan Xu helped guide filament being extruded for 3D printers recently at the University of Wisconsin-Stout plastics laboratory as part of the Summer STEAM Experience camp.
This is the first year the camp, which started in 2016, has welcomed sixth- and seventh-grade students to some of the tracks. The camp ran June 16-20.
The camp offered nine tracks overall focusing on science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. Younger students were welcome as day campers. Students in eighth to 12th grade could take part in day camp or stay overnight on campus.
“I enjoy learning about technology and creating plastics,” said Husby, who attended the Technology Engineering and Plastics track. However, his favorite part was being able to visit Cardinal FG’s glass plant in Menomonie’s industrial park.
“All I knew was sand was one of the ingredients,” Husby said. “I learned a lot about glass.”
Xu, the son of UW-Stout plastics engineering program director Wei Zheng who attended the Technology Education and Plastics track, said one of his favorite activities was using 3D printers. “I like it because I get to make stuff from a little piece of plastic string,” Xu said.
RaeLinne Weiss, a seventh-grader at Menomonie Middle School, was pleased younger students were able to join STEAM camp this year. “We can learn to make things now instead of when we’re older,” she said, noting she would encourage other students to attend because it is fun.
Noah Heil, a freshman at Menomonie High School, attended STEAM camp for the first time. He showed a Fred Flintstone character he made using injection molding. He supports having younger children there to learn.
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“I think it’s good for them to learn to make things at a younger age,” he said. “They can keep going and going and advancing in technology.”
Zheng said she thought the students blended well during the camp. “I think it’s great,” she said. “They learn how to work with the more senior students in the group, and they got to learn from their peers as well.”
In the Applied Arts Building, Kari Tarr, a senior lecturer in the School of Art and Design fundamentals area, taught students classical drawing techniques. As the students sketched a still life of cylinders and bottles with charcoal, Tarr said she was impressed by their motivation to learn new skills. “They are engaged and motivated and they are working hard,” Tarr said.
The students in that track also created a zine, a self-published magazine, during the camp.
Tarr liked the mix of structured time in classical drawing and the opportunity for students to create and express themselves with the zine. “That creative outlet is great at this age,” Tarr said.
Kassidy Welsch of Menomonie, who is home-schooled, said she enjoyed the camp. “I wanted to get better at drawing,” she said. “I enjoyed learning different drawing techniques and how to execute them. It’s just been a really good experience.”
Other tracks included 3D Animation, 3d Modeling, Robot Design, 3D Printing and Jewelry, Human Anatomy Exploration, Interior Design, Video Game Design and Wood is Good.
Students for the camp are sponsored by the Menomonie Area School District and the Eau Claire Area School District, and the camp is part of the Eau Claire Area School District Summer School Program.