Advanced Learning’s beloved summer camp goes virtual amidst the Covid pandemic.
Qualifying rising 4th through 6th graders participated in the district’s first online version of Summer Enrichment Academy. After a morning Zoom meeting with their class and gifted-certified teacher, students engaged in literacy and STEM projects culminating in building a Rube Goldberg device.
Famous cartoonist, author, engineer, and inventor Rube Goldberg inspired Cobb County gifted teachers when confronted with a dire situation. Each June, over 300 rising 4th through 6th grade students attend Summer Enrichment Academy. The camp serves as an exciting academic enrichment opportunity for the advanced students who qualify and apply. This year, Covid-19 threatened to shutter the camp, but the dedication, flexibility, and ingenuity of the camp directors and teachers kept it alive by reimagining it in a virtual capacity.
Camp directors worked feverishly throughout the spring to build a website and design online learning activities around the theme of Rube Goldberg. With a desire for the experience to be as hands-on as possible, the teachers developed literacy, art, and STEM projects that could be completed off-screen. Student feedback from previous years always listed the camaraderie and friendships formed as students’ favorite aspect of camp. Hoping to capture that sense of community, the teachers used instructional technology to encourage student interaction. The culminating project of the week was a student-built Rube Goldberg device.
Parent response to Virtual Summer Enrichment Academy was overwhelmingly positive. Students enjoyed online games and brainstorming sessions during morning Zoom meeting, listening to daily read-alouds, creating black-out poetry, drawing design cartoons of their Rube Goldberg machines, and building their contraptions. The online format did not diminish the academic or intellectual challenge. While everyone hopes Summer Enrichment Academy can be held in person next year, Virtual Summer Enrichment Academy was a huge success. One student summarized it best: “For virtual camp, it was amazing!”
Andrew Kutscher, Supervisor