More than 300 students from age eight to 18 spent Saturday doing hands-on activities like building straw rockets and trying out a flight simulator at McClure South-Berkley High School in the Ferguson-Florissant School District.
The one-day, free summer camp sponsored by Boeing let kids explore science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, known as STEAM.
This was the second year Boeing held the event in north St. Louis County. The company has been offering a similar one-day camp in the city of St. Louis since 2011.
Saturday a group of middle schoolers discovered that landing an F-18 jet on an aircraft carrier is a little harder than your average video game. Boeing volunteers walked the students through using the joy stick and other simulated controls.
“It’s fun and something I really like to do,” said Xavier Higgs, 13, adding that he likes learning about those types of things because he wants to be in the military when he grows up.
“I really want to go into the U.S. Army so I can help people, save people,” Higgs said.
One of the stations the elementary-age kids tried out was learning about aerodynamics by building and testing straw rockets. They lined up in the hallway one by one, and tried to launch their straws to mars — a target taped on the linoleum.
McClure sophomore Desirae Weatherspoon’s favorite part was spraying diet coke several feet into the air by dumping Mentos inside the soda bottle. The carbonation in the drink has a chemical reaction with the candy.
“It’s just in my personality to do hands-on things. I don’t like to sit and watch. I like to get my hands on things and do things,” Weatherspoon said.
She wants to become a technical engineer and got a lot of advice Saturday about how to get started in the career.
Camp organizer and Boeing IT Director Tim Sayers said connecting kids to careers in science and technology is a big part of why his company sponsors the camp and partners with schools throughout the year.
“We build airplanes, we build satellites, we build rockets, right. That’s all a result of science. So you make that connection for kids to realize that it’s not just textbooks but it’s cool stuff. That someday I can work on something that is world changing,” Sayers said. “We invest in the community here to have kids that hopefully become future employees for us.”
Follow Camille Phillips on Twitter: @cmpcamille.
An earlier version of this story identified the plane in the flight simulator as an F-8, not an F-18.