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Central Georgia STEM camps adjust to COVID-19

The pandemic hasn't stopped educators from getting kids excited about science.

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — COVID-19 has pushed summer camps to make big adjustments to keep their campers' learning experience fun and safe.

This week, campers at the Museum of Aviation and the Real I.M.P.A.C.T. Center are wrapping up a month of learning all things science and technology.

Both camps found new ways to keep kids social-distanced while experimenting with everything from robotics and volcanoes to forensic files.

"We really had to rethink the way that we offered our classes and our programs, but it's worked out wonderfully," Museum of Aviation Education Director Melissa Spalding said. "The students have missed coming and we've missed seeing them."

The museum's National STEM Academy camps have reduced their class sizes to eight students at a time, in addition to requiring face masks, increasing sanitization and providing individual equipment for campers.

Despite the changes, Spalding says the kids are still as excited as ever to come in every Thursday for different experiments.

"STEM is very important and integrating those subjects in a fun, exciting way really helps students learn about the world around them," Spalding said.

Leaders at the Real I.M.P.A.C.T. Center took a different approach to camp, electing to go completely virtual for their Girl Power STEM Camp.

"It pushed us to be more innovative which is what STEM is, to be able to integrate that science, technology, engineering and math into one," center Founder Geneva West said.

Thanks to help from a COVID-19 relief grant from United Way and the Community Foundation of Central Georgia, campers were mailed kits in order to participate.

Each week, girls focused on new subjects in science including coding, forensics, drones and aviation.

For West, it's important to let girls explore their interests in engineering and math.

"All the like-minded girls were still able to come into a virtual room and participate and engage in STEM," West said. "They can look around and see girls like them and go, 'oh we're still doing it.' Summer camp didn't fail because of COVID."

Even though the organizations are wrapping up their camps for July, both have more activities planned for kids throughout the fall.

To find out more about programs at National STEM Academy or the Real I.M.P.A.C.T. Center, check out their websites.

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