Federal Way scholars learn computer programming with Sphero, a small spherical robot, during a summer school STEM camp. Photo courtesy FWPS

Federal Way Public Schools scholars participate in meaningful summer learning opportunities

Federal Way Public Schools is committed to providing learning opportunities throughout the summer.

Experiences offered include the first summer chess camp with the superintendent, the mobile bus “FRED,” which brought learning opportunities to students, Summer Bridge to support successful transitions for incoming ninth-graders and Summer Learning Academies focused on college and career preparedness.

Spanning across several school sites, the Summer Learning Academy hosted a series of programs dedicated to the hands-on learning of several subjects.

More than 540 scholars entering first through 10th grades attended Summer Learning Academy programs at Camelot Elementary, Enterprise Elementary, Nautilus K–8, Olympic View Elementary, Thomas Jefferson High School and Federal Way High School.

The elementary program featured gardening, robotics and computer coding, engineering principles and more.

The secondary program experience included digital arts, forensics, food sciences and robotics. These opportunities get scholars thinking about what they want to be when they grow up.

The Summer Learning Academy programs build 21st century skills and prepare scholars for high-demand, high-wage jobs in our region.

At these sites, scholars learn to program with Sphero, a small spherical robot that is easily programmable through chunks of code that scholars can use to make it move, change color or react to touch.

Sphero appeals to many ages because it is easy to pick up and challenging to master. As early as elementary school, scholars are learning to code and practicing the logic required to become proficient.

One of the high school scholars who programmed Sphero to move through a maze noted that “a lot of trial and error really helps to learn, and through those mistakes, through seeing the inconsistencies, you learn.”

Scholars developed similar skills at Camp Invention, another program at the elementary Summer Learning Academy.

Instead of working with existing products, the focus was on creating something unique.

Scholars were encouraged to be curious, to identify a problem and to find a way to make a solution.

They learned how to work with various tools and become confident in their engineering abilities.

Programs are not limited to engineering and programming.

Another popular program taught scholars the basics of gardening.

Scholars who attended learned basic biology, including photosynthesis, types of soil and structures of plants. Using this knowledge, scholars grew their own plants and analyzed the effects of water, sunlight and soil.

At another site, secondary Summer Learning Academy scholars had the opportunity to take part in a rotation where they experienced several subjects. First, scholars worked with Sphero to learn programming skills.

Next, scholars at the food science rotation learned about bacteria and yeast while making recipes that they later added to a personal recipe book.

At the forensics lab, scholars learned to study tracks and prints, and used tools and techniques used in crime scene investigations.

In the digital arts computer lab, scholars learned how to use Adobe Illustrator and other tools to create original pieces of art.

One of these scholars remarked, “I’m not very good at drawing, but this helps me use drawing in a very efficient and easy way.”

Scholars are learning to open their mind to new ways of looking at challenges and creating solutions through these programs.

One of the instructors at the secondary Summer Learning Academy said, “The more hands-on it is, and the more steps involved, the more they seem to enjoy it.”

These hands-on learning opportunities benefit our scholars in and outside the classroom, and they are tailored to prepare scholars for 21st century careers that require collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and communication.

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