Man, it’s cold inside — STEM camps let students be Polar Explorers

Man, it’s cold inside — STEM camps let students be Polar Explorers

Even among the fourth- to sixth-grade set, summer brain drain is a concern.

“When you stay home and you’re not active your mind is not as sharp,” said Gabriel Tellez, who will start sixth grade at Theodore G. Davis Middle School in August. “You could forget what you learned,” Kaelan Perkin, who will join his friend Tellez at Davis at the start of the school year, chimed in.

To ensure their brains are engaged and taking in new information, the boys signed up for the Polar Explorer camp held at the James E. Richmond Science Center at St. Charles High School. Running from June 27 to July 1, the camp focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) lessons but with a chilly twist.

“It’s different and fun,” Patrick Rowley, technology facilitator at the center, said. “You’re learning something, but it doesn’t seem like school.” At camp, time slows down to a relaxed pace. “They can take all the time in the day to learn and explore,” Rowley added.

During the weeklong camp the students will go on an “Arctic mission,” Rowley said. They will learn how animals in cold climates have adapted by wearing a “blubber glove” — submerging one gloved arm in ice water, while the other arm will be dunked gloveless. They learn about icebergs using the vastly scaled down version — ice cubes. Another activity will focus on glacial movement and how it affects the landscape and environment.

On a recent day, the students discussed various vehicles used in the Arctic, those used on land and sea. Isaiah Diggs and Terrell Pullen, an incoming seventh grader to Mattawoman and sixth grader at Milton M. Somers middle schools respectively, studied skidoos that travel over snow and ice. They’re not unlike jet skis, Diggs said.

Additional vehicles talked about were “Ivan the Terra Bus,” which is a passenger carrier and a Hagglunds, another people mover that can float if it happens to break through ocean ice. After talking about the various modes of transportation that could get them around the Arctic landscape, the campers delved into building their own robots using kits.

For a generation familiar with the movies “Frozen” and “Happy Feet,” the Arctic isn’t an icy wasteland to be avoided, it’s a fertile environment waiting to be explored. “My mom wanted me to go to science camp,” said Nia Gatling, who will begin sixth grade at Mattawoman. “I wanted to learn about the polar region because I like the cold and I wanted to learn more about the animals. I love polar bears.”

For more information on summer programs offered by the school system, go to

Charles County Public Schools provides 26,300 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.


The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.


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