Modern STEM camps: a self-made robot arm, working with a 3D pen and the first steps in programming

11. August, 2023

As STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) knowledge becomes more demanded in the academic environment, as well as in job markets, VALMIERAS STIKLA ŠĶIEDRA, AS this year, for the first time ever, organized free educational summer camps for employees` children. In the form of hands-on activities and games, children learned the first steps in the field of STEM and found out that science and technology can be engaging for everyone. Thanks to the successful participation in the grant program of the Society Integration Fund "Family-friendly workplace", 3,000 euros of co-financing was obtained for the implementation of the camps.

From June to August, three separate day-camps organized by VALMIERAS STIKLA ŠĶIEDRA, AS took place in Valmiera, each lasting a week, and 90 children of the company`s employees, in the age group from 1st to 6th grade, took part. The camps were organized with the aim to spark interest about the STEM field – science, technologies, engineering, and maths, - that way not only releasing curiosity and creativity and developing critical and logical thinking, but also creating lasting interest for children that will encourage them to learn more about this topic in the future. 

“Today the number of jobs in the STEM field is increasing, however the availability for qualified employees is significantly behind the demand. We also experience that at VALMIERAS STIKLA ŠĶIEDRA, AS. With organizing the camps, from an early age we want to show the kids how exciting the STEM field can be and, potentially, uncover the new Latvian talents that, using their skills and their discoverer spirit, someday possibly will create innovations demanded by the world,“ says VALMIERAS STIKLA ŠĶIEDRA, AS Chairmen of the Board Stefan Jugel.   

STEM field for anyone

Within the camps, children worked with 3D printers and 3D pens, together with lego robotics teacher, Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences student Karīna Anna Liepiņa, they learned about the basics of electronic connections and energy efficiency themselves creating different circuits and experimenting with various components. Teacher of technical creativity Evita Ziplāne-Bērziņa, helped the kids to develop technical skills using creative techniques, for example, creating parachutes for eggs, a robotic hand and Newton`s cradle, proving that the technical field also requires creativity and the courage to experiment. Under the guidance of the FIRST LEGO League national competition organizer and Lego robotics teacher Anna Skruode, in teams, kids developed moving models, powered by lego motors. The children also worked with Matatalab and Scottie Go programming games, learning the basics of programming.

Throughout the week there were also joint games and activities, an excursion around the VALMIERAS STIKLA ŠĶIEDRA, AS factory, and a visit to the cinema on the last day of camp. 

Camp as support to the parents

School summer vacation can be a complicated time for families because the parents must come up with ways to entertain their kids with meaningful activities. The interviewed employees of VALMIERAS STIKLA ŠĶIEDRA, AS appreciate the STEM summer camp organized by the company, because within this time not only the kids have acquired practical skills in the current STEM field, but also made new friends. 

“My daughter is happy about the friends she has met and with great excitement she told about the time spent at the camp  – about the robotic hand, working with a 3D pen, as well as about the technology experienced – the 3D printer. I would definitely recommend to organize these kinds of camps in the future, because my daughter is already asking if there will be a possibility to attend one like this again,” about his daughter's experience tells Mārtiņs Freimanis, VALMIERAS STIKLA ŠĶIEDRA, AS Senior Labor Protection Specialist.  

Gatis Ķirsis, VALMIERAS STIKLA ŠĶIEDRA, AS shift manager in the Finishing department is also happy about his daughter's participation in the camp: “My daughter liked working with electricity and the 3D appliances, as well as making the robots. I think this kind of experience should also be organized next year, so my oldest daughter can attend and learn something new, and possibly gain interest to study in this fied.”