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.
Every Friday from June 10 to July 29
Welty Environmental Center
1201 Big Hill Court
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 eight-week camp is scheduled for 1–4 p.m. Fridays during June and July 2022. The dates are:
- June 10
- June 17
- June 24
- July 1
- July 8
- July 15
- July 22
- July 29
What types of activities will students participate in?
Hands-on camp activities will include:
- Learning how to fly a drone over Big Hill Park
- Mapping the landscape with a sand table
- Steering a remote-controlled TerraRover car with mounted instruments to gather atmospheric data
- Collecting water samples and performing water quality testing for Goose Creek along with measuring turbidity
- Collecting soil profiles with an auger to understand the soil profile history
- Touring science departments at Beloit College
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?
Online registration is required by May 27, 2022. The camp size will be limited to 20 students. This 20-student cap ensures engaging effectively with each child and limiting potential overstimulation. A separate registration must be completed for each student.
Dr. Michael Notaro
Interim Director and Senior Scientist
Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research
Photo provided by the Welty Environmental Center and approved for use.