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Space camp offers STEM learning experiences

A space suit is displayed at the Bonne Terre Space Museum.

PAM CLIFTON, Contributing Writer

An all-girls space camp. That’s the first thing that came to mind for Kayce Amsden after she heard the St. Francois County Rotary had a grant for a girl empowerment program.

Amsden is the 4-H youth program associate for St. Francois County’s University of Missouri Extension.

“4-H leads the content for the Missouri S&T’s aerospace camp, so I had space on my mind getting ready for that,” said Amsden. “Of course, having an amazing space museum in our county certainly made the idea more exciting.”

Thanks to a Rotary Club grant, the free “Girl Powered Space Camp” — the by-girls-for-girls event — was created. The camp is the combined effort between St. Francois County 4-H, Rotary Club, and The Space Museum and Grissom Center in Bonne Terre.

Earl Mullins, the space museum’s executive director, said he was pleased with the way the camp was shaping up.

“I am very encouraged that regional organizations are beginning to see the value of the services we offer,” he said. “Our hope is that hosting this great event is just the beginning of what is possible as we partner with others in the Mineral Area and state.”

The Space Museum and Grissom Center President Earl Mullins shows off the facility’s robot Max in the spring of 2022.

The event, designed for girls ages 8 to 13, takes place Tuesday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at The Space Museum and Grissom Center in Bonne Terre.

Amsden said that when registration opened, they were hoping for about 20 to 25 participants. Within the first 48 hours, 62 girls had signed up, so registration is now full.

Camp participants will enjoy a full day of STEM-related activities and projects, including robots, coding, rockets, crafts, and careers.

“We’re hoping to get a panel of people to help us explore careers in space, but that is all still in the works,” said Amsden.

She said camp participants will tour the museum, learn about the science behind rockets and other science fields, enjoy space snacks, and much more.

“But in true 4-H fashion, the day will be packed with hands-on activities,” said Amsden.

She added that the most exciting thing for her is the number of young girls interested in science.

“We need to be more deliberate in offering girls-only STEM opportunities,” said Amsden.

Maddie Lasewicz, district executive for the Boy Scouts of America, is a member of St. Francois County Rotary and has worked closely with Amsden to create this girls-only space camp.

“There is no fee to attend this event, but we’re asking the girls to bring a sack lunch,” said Lasewicz. “We have had to close registration. We were hoping to serve about 20 girls, but 60 registered in one weekend.”

According to Lasewicz, campers can expect a tour of the museum, a lesson in rocket design, building their own water rockets, tasting astronaut food, programming robots, and talking to a panel of individuals in STEM careers.

“We are hoping a female astronaut will be able to attend,” she said. “This is such an exciting opportunity to share the world of STEM with local girls. From how many registered, it seems like a very needed program that we can hopefully expand next summer.”


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