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STEM camp fosters learning

Students built remote operated vehicles that were used to explore the lake floor at the end of the breakwall in Two Harbors. Photo by Mark Schlangen.1 / 2
Fifteen Two Harbors middle schoolers showed off their homemade canoes’ seaworthiness last Friday. They built the canoes in a weeklong STEM camp. Photo by LaReesa Sandretsky.2 / 2

Fifteen middle-schoolers gathered at the breakwall in Two Harbors Friday morning for the culmination of a week-long STEM camp.

They spent a week of their summer break with four teachers, learning a slew of science, technology, engineering and math skills, while building canoes and underwater remote operated vehicles. On Friday, they sent their vehicles underwater to explore the lake floor and loaded up their canoes to try their seaworthiness.

Science teachers Penny Juenemann and Mark Schlangen, shop teacher Kyle Chalupsky and math teacher Brian Rauvola collaborated on the project, which was a hit with all the students.

Eighth-grader Sam Knight, said he enrolled in the camp because he wants to be an engineer.

“We call him Einstein,” said his classmate, Nathan Campbell. Campbell said he’s unsure of what he will pursue after high school, but the course “definitely increased” his interest in engineering.

Jake Wilmott, another eighth-grader, said he was amazed by what the group was able to build in just a week.

“I’m especially surprised we got the canoes done so fast,” he said.

Emily Sweatt, also in eighth-grade, wants to study English or literature after high school, but still found the STEM camp interesting.

“I thought it would be fun and my friend said she would sign up with me,” Sweatt said of her reasons for attending.

As for what she learned in the week-long course, many things came to mind — biology, soldering, physics — plus a lesson the class learned the hard way.

“We learned that epoxy is spontaneously combustible,” she said, sharing the story of the moment their epoxied canoes almost turned into firewood. Despite the close call, the boats survived and floated. The underwater vehicles performed well, too, and the students even found a bicycle that had been sent to a watery grave, resting near the breakwall’s edge.

“Things really came together nicely,” Rauvola said.

LaReesa Sandretsky
LaReesa Sandretsky is a Two Harbors High School graduate and Duluth native who began working at the News-Chronicle in 2012 as a reporter. She took over as editor in 2014. She covers County Board, including the Lake County broadband project.
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