Wagner returns from STEM camp, tells of his experiences

Ten-year-old Grady Wagner attended a STEM camp, Envision Your Future, at the University of Minnesota campus June 23-28. Grady was nominated to attend the camp by his Webster Area Elementary teacher Nancy Block. After applying, he was notified of his acceptance in January.

Describing his exp­erience, Grady said, “It was like school, but more fun.”

Grady was assigned to a STEM group and attended classes throughout the day – learning about science, technology, engineering and math – then having rec time in the afternoons and entertainment in the evenings. At the conclusion of the week, Grady said students used the skills they gained to solve a “mystery.”

“At the end, we held a trial and explained everything we learned,” Grady said.

Among the class projects Grady and other students participated in, included dissecting a beef heart, building a robot and studying venomous snake bites and its effect on the human body. Students studied the lungs and the cardiovascular system. They even learned how to determine the height from which a drop of blood fell based on the splatter marks it left. Teaching students throughout the week were experts like medical examiners and forensic scientists, Grady said.

There were aspects of engineering that tied into the mystery’s story, Grady said. In a mock scene, two individuals were unaccounted for and lost on a remote part of an island; students had to figure out how to use the robots they’d built earlier in the week for the rescue while also building bridges for their robots using only straws, tape and paper clips.

For Grady, building and programing the robots was his favorite part of the week.

“We got to program them to follow our instructions or we could have them do their own thing,” he said. “We had a lot of fun building the robots.”

Among the various evening entertainment – including a magician show, a talent show and a dance party – Grady said his favorite was the science show.

“(The demonstrator) made bubbles you could put on people,” he said. “He burned tissue paper that burned quickly with no ashes or smoke.”

The STEM camp was for fourth through sixth grade students. Grady estimated there were around 170 students at the event.

Meeting new people and learning about the lives of those from other states was an interesting aspect of the experience, Grady said.

“You’re bringing the world closer when you go to camp,” he said. “You’re meeting new people, bonding and creating new experiences.”

Grady expressed his appreciation to Mrs. Block for nominating him, thus allowing him the opportunity to have this experience.

And, given the chance, he said he would do it again.

“It was fun. I’d say it was one of the best experiences of my life,” he said.

He is the son of Ryan and Kerri Wagner from rural Roslyn.