While the robot that 12-year-old T. J. Handy made at Maker STEM camp worked perfectly fine indoors, it struggled to move over the sandy terrain when he took it outside. Instead of getting frustrated, T. J. simply went back inside, adjusted the robot’s suspension, and tried again. This time, it worked.
Handy is one of the 22 middle school students who participated in Maker STEM camp at the Georgetown School in Hanover County, Virginia, last summer.
Maker is an after-school and summer camp program put on by 4-H. Trained adult leaders teach students the principles of STEM — science, technology, engineering, and math — through a learn-by-doing philosophy. Maker coaches lead campers through demonstrations on the day’s lesson, such as robotics. Then, the campers create their own models. The coaches encourage creativity and try to eliminate the fear of failure. This enables students to look at problems they run into as challenges to overcome, rather than as failures.
“The kids look at troubleshooting as just another part of making,” said Rita Schalk, 4-H youth development Extension agent in Hanover County.