The goal of The Sky’s the Limit STEM Camp is to broaden science opportunities for autistic youth by providing a summer camp that supports inquisitiveness in a non-threatening, non-traditional, and inclusive learning environment. We aim to provide nature-based, hands-on learning opportunities and encourage the pursuit of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) degrees and careers. The summer camp will embrace neurodivergence and the associated unique thinking and learning of autistic youth through flexible teaching strategies.
Attendees will participate in hands-on outdoor and indoor activities, such as learning to fly a drone, steering a remote-controlled TerraRover car, collecting soil and water samples, and hiking through beautiful landscapes.
This STEM camp is free and open to middle and high school aged (grades 6-12) autistic youth. The camp is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) GEOPAths program.
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When will the camp be held?
The six-week camp was held for 1–4 p.m. Fridays during June and July 2023. The dates were:
- June 16
- June 23
- June 30
- July 7
- July 14
- July 21
What types of activities will students participate in?
Many of the camp activities will involve implementing the atmosphere (air), hydrosphere (water), biosphere (life), and pedosphere (soil) protocols from NASA’s Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) environmental education and citizen science program.
GLOBE is an international program with participants from over 36,000 students worldwide from 122 countries. GLOBE connects students, teachers, and scientists to better understand, sustain, and improve the environment, encouraging investigators to think globally while acting locally. Through GLOBE data collection and analysis, a deeper understanding of Earth’s system is reached as students participate in active learning to advance their skills in critical thinking, the scientific process, data analysis, and big picture thinking.
What should students bring?
Students should wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes, such as hiking boots or sneakers, and clothes that they don’t mind getting dirty. We recommend bringing sunscreen, insect repellant, a water bottle, a snack (please do not bring snacks with nuts), and a hat for shade.
Do students need to be accompanied?
Youth attendees must be accompanied during the entire camp sessions by an adult, such as a parent, caregiver, or therapist. Unattended students should not be dropped off. In addition, staff from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, School District of Beloit, Welty Environmental Center, and Achieving Collaborative Treatment will be present acting in a supportive role but will not be providing custodial care. The limited student attendance and abundance of adult helpers will ensure each student is engaged with through a personalized approach that respects their sensory needs and challenges.
How do students register?
The 2023 camp has passed. Thanks to all who attended!
Photo provided by the Welty Environmental Center and approved for use.