STEAM Comes to Switzkill Farm

Exploring the stream bed at Switzkill Farm

— Photo from Richard Ronconi
Exploring the stream bed at Switzkill Farm was part of learning about the Helderberg Plateau for students attending the Berne-Knox-Westerlo summer STEAM Camp.

— Photo from Richard Ronconi
An up-close look at creatures on the forest floor riveted Berne-Knox-Westerlo students this summer.

To the Editor:

This year, for three weeks during the month of July, the Berne-Knox-Westerlo summer STEAM Camp (STEAM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, art, math) was located at the Switzkill Farm Park due to construction on the BKW campus. Three one-week sessions served more than 100 students from the school district from grades 2 to 7.

The three-hour daily sessions consisted of whole group challenges involving the STEAM fields. The aim of the program is to encourage innovation, creative-thinking, and problem-solving. For example, students were set to work on designing a bridge, a boat, and rollercoaster. They also worked on determining the strongest and most efficient geometric designs for construction based on their observations of how the honeybee uses the hexagon to construct her honeycomb.

Hikes on the farm’s trails and visits to the ponds illustrated the practical side to the projects covered at the farm’s lodge. On the trails, staff members helped students identify various plants, animals, and rock formations.

The ponds provided great opportunities for observing plants, fish, and insects. The on-site beaver pond was a big attraction. The lodge was always available in case of inclement weather.

During the daily sessions, students were given snacks, and a visit to the Thacher Park Nature Center was part of the week’s activities. There the kids saw the large observation beehive and learned more about nature on the Helderberg Plateau.

The four staff members (Mark Tidd, Tamara Fisher, Meghan Leddick, and Brenda Robichaud) were very positive about the opportunity to use Switzkill Farm for the site of this year’s STEAM Camp.

Richard Ronconi, member

Switzkill Farm Board

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