Students return to in-person learning at WVU Tech STEM Summer Academy

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BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — Hybrid or remote learning became normal for most students because of the pandemic. But as restrictions are lifted, summer camps and learning programs are back to in-person.

For some students, including Woodrow Wilson student Brigid Slack-Shrewspry, the WVU Tech STEM Summer Academy is the first chance at getting hands-on experience before the pandemic and for some students in person learning changes everything.

“It was so hard to get in touch with teachers… and ask questions,” Slack-Shrewspry said. “It was hard to understand your work.”

With in-person learning, Slack-Shrewspry says she’s able to find joy in the process again.

“[While] remote, I didn’t retain any information. I guarantee it,” Slack-Shrewspry said. “But now, I feel like I’m learning again.”

Students participating at the academy are able to work directly with equipment they would not have access to in a normal school or remote environment. They also receive guidance from WVU Tech professors and students.

On Thursday, they worked directly with the NASA Education Resource Center to build robots. Bobbi Mitchell, who works at the center, said that in-person instruction is essential.

“There is such a strong difference between doing math and writing down code or just programming something, and then actually seeing it come to life with a physical object,” Mitchell said. “That’s when you see the real spark in a kid’s eyes.”

The camp is open to any high school student, but is meant to inspire interest from female students in the STEM fields.

Mitchell says hands-on experience helps ignite passion for STEM in students and that can be
absent from remote learning.

“Teachers and mentors are so important in cultivating a love in STEM for students,” Mitchell said. “Not being able to make those connections… I feel like you don’t get to cultivate that love for STEM as well as in-person.”

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