STEM campers complete Roane State, Verizon Innovative Learning program

Verizon Eclipse tablets were given to girls whose attendance records met requirements set by the Verizon Foundation. Campers with perfect attendance records also received printers. (Photo / Roane State)

Innovative program one of only five in the nation

CROSSVILLE – Nearly 100 middle school girls who participated in three weeks of STEM camp last summer, along with monthly follow-up sessions on Saturdays during the school year, have been awarded computer tablets.

They had attended the camps – part of the Verizon Innovative Learning program – at Roane State Community College’s Cumberland and Scott County campuses. The Verizon Eclipse tablets were given to girls whose attendance records met requirements set by the Verizon Foundation.

Campers picked up their tablets during drive-through events recently at the two campuses.

Roane State in 2017 was one of five colleges nationwide invited to the inaugural Verizon Innovative Learning program for middle school girls. The pilot program was so successful that STEM camps have been held on the Cumberland County campus since 2017. The program was expanded last summer to include Scott County middle school.

The camps seek to inspire girls to consider STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) careers. Activities included 3D design and printing, electronics and coding, augmented reality and virtual reality and entrepreneurship.

In February, the Verizon Foundation and the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship awarded Roane State the opportunity to again host the programs at the two campuses for the 2020-2021 school year. 

The pandemic derailed those plans, however, with COVID-19 prompting officials to close campuses in the spring. The virus also sparked the use of several drive-through events at the college’s campuses to comply with social-distancing recommendations.

In those events, students have stayed in their vehicles and lined up on campuses for activities including dropping off school equipment, distributing food to students with food insecurity issues, congratulatory celebrations for new graduates and handing out those hard-won Verizon tablets to campers with sterling attendance records.

Holly Hanson, director of the Cumberland County campus, hosted the drive-through event for campers on July 7, and Scott County Campus Director Sharon Wilson said her campus drive-through was held July 14. Hanson said appointments will be made with the other qualifying campers for them to come on campus and be awarded their tablets. Campers with perfect attendance records also received printers. 

Hanson said the popular summer STEM camps are expected to resume next summer for the 2021-2022 school year.

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