The Alcoa Foundation recently awarded a $20,000 grant to Pfeiffer University to support a series of summer camps focused on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Dr. Laura Lowder, assistant professor of education; Nicole Wright, foundation coordinator, Alcoa Power Generating; Dr. Jerry Boone, president; Mark Gross, Hydro Operations Manager, Alcoa Power Generating; and Dr. Dane Fischer, professor of biology.
Grant will support summer camps focusing on STEM subjects
Pfeiffer University will host a series of summer camps focused on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) next year, thanks to a $20,000 grant provided by the Alcoa Foundation.
“Pfeiffer University is grateful to the Alcoa Foundation for its longtime support of Pfeiffer students through annual scholarships and the direct funding of academic programs relevant to the local workforce,” said Carol May, Pfeiffer University’s director of institutional advancement. “Through these and this new gift for STEM summer camps, the Alcoa Foundation demonstrates its enduring commitment to strengthening the Stanly County community by addressing needs of today to assure readiness for the jobs of tomorrow.”
The Alcoa Foundation grant will support three STEM camps for students in elementary, middle and high school. The camps include:
STEM Into Summer (Grades K-5)
Young campers will explore STEM concepts using LEGOs WeDo and Simple Machines programs. This hands-on robotics experience provides a learning environment where teams of students work together to engineer solutions to problems.
Planting the Seeds of STEM (Grades 6-8)
This camp focuses on inquiry-based experiments using plants as a model system. Campers will include plant tours of the Pfeiffer campus and discussion of how various plant species have evolved to share the forest and urban ecosystem. The camp may include microscopic analysis of plant cells and/or extraction and analysis of plant DNA.
A STEM Career: It’s in Your DNA (Grades 9-12)
This camp for high school students will feature laboratory training and interactive exercises that promote collaborative, interactive and engaged learning while inspiring students to pursue STEM careers related to DNA science. Pfeiffer student will work with campers to perform hands-on, interactive activities that are not typically carried out in high school labs due to a lack of resources and expertise. STEM careers such as forensic science, pharmaceuticals, medicine, cancer biology, and biotechnology will be highlighted.
“The Alcoa Foundation is dedicated to supporting education and encouraging schools to provide STEM learning opportunities for students,” said Nicole Wright, who manages Alcoa’s community grants in North Carolina. “We’re thrilled to support the work that Pfeiffer is doing to engage a wide range of North Carolina students in STEM learning.”
According to the U.S. Department of Education, only 16 percent of American high school seniors are proficient in mathematics and interested in a STEM career — and only about half of those who pursue a college major in a STEM field choose to work in a related career. Currently, the U.S. is ranked 25th globally in mathematics and 17th in science among industrialized nations.
“Competence in math and science is essential for employment in medicine, biotechnology, computer science and information technology, pharmaceuticals and forensic science — fields that will drive the 21st century,” said Dr. Dane Fisher, professor of biology, who will design and direct the STEM camps with Dr. Laura Lowder, assistant professor of education. “Pfeiffer University is very grateful to the Alcoa Foundation for recognizing this critical need and making it possible for Stanly County students to participate in an educational summer experience that could potentially set the course for their futures.”