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Children in the Summer Science Camp at Brayton School designed and built their own town.
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Pupils learn how catapults work at the Summer Science Camp.
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This year's theme is 'Imagineering' with a focus on teamwork and problem solving.
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The children create clay monsters in one science module.

Imagineers Welcome at Brayton Summer Science Camp

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Summer Science Camp at Brayton Elementary School is in full swing with the theme "Imagineering."
Just because school is out doesn't mean learning has to stop so 150 city pupils spent the month of July strengthening their science muscles.
"The theme this year has really lent itself to all sorts of fun and different ways to learn," teacher Susan Oliveri said. "It is not just topic specific ... we have gone in all sorts of directions structurally and with the foundations of science."
The goal of this year's camp, which is run through the 21st Century After-School Program, is to inspire campers to discover the art of "Imagineering" as a prerequisite to inventing.
The program is run through the month of July, Monday through Friday, and each day students take on a new project.
In Oliveri's room, students studied buoyancy and designed boats that will, hopefully, float in the river. 
She said they also took a trip to the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield to see the Leonardo da Vinci exhibit that inspired the projectile project.
"We made marshmallow shooters with pompoms and now we are making catapults," Oliveri said. "We go over all of the science behind it."
A huge part of all of the projects is the design and the children identify a problem, brainstorm, design, redesign, test and evaluate and finally share their solutions.
They participate in hands-on collaborative engineering challenges such as designing safety helmets or solving food-specific problems in "Food for Thought: Engineering Ice Cream."
Down the hall from Oliveri, Annamarie Sebastino runs the Kids2College program, run in conjunction with Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, where pupils build and program Lego robots and work with Marble Mania kits  
"They are really great team building and problem-solving exercises as they are all working together and following directions," she said.
The children also built a town in the back of the classroom that they first had to design.
Sebastino added that they have gone on various field trips that have included the Susan B. Anthony Birthplace and Museum and the Quaker Meeting House in Adams, MCLA's inflatable Star Lab, and the nearby Cascades and Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.
Different projects are for different age groups and older students in the fifth and sixth grades visited local businesses.  
"They are going to local businesses and encouraging the kids to stay in the area," Noella Carlow, 21st Century site coordinator, said. "Then they have to come up with their own business plan."
Carlow said there are really two aspects of the program: the project-based learning and social-emotional learning. She said they follow seven "Leader In Me" program goals that include "Be proactive," "Work before play," and "Be a good team player."
"We really feel as kids graduate and even in kindergarten they really need to learn some of these goal-setting habits for success," she said. 
Oliveri said they have used literature to push some of these perspectives and have read the tale of the "Three Little Pigs" but from the perspective of the wolf and "Jack and the Beanstalk" but from the perspective of the giant.
Beyond discussions on different perspectives, they also designed beanstalks and houses.
"So really it is imagineering from literature and we try to bring that in," she said. "They all have science journals to reflect and predict."
She said they even read a book about a boy who needs his monster under the bed to fall asleep -- inverting a popular trope in children's literature. Afterward, the children designed and created their own clay monsters.
Summer Science Camp is not only a great opportunity for elementary school pupils to learn but also for high school students. This year, Drury High School sent the camp four rising seniors to intern through the career center.
"It teaches a lot of responsibility. We are with the kids all of the time," intern Jack Demayo said. "It is a lot of fun seeing the kids have fun."
Carlow said it is important to keep students engaged throughout the summer so they come back to school in September ready to go with more science awareness.
"You don't want learning loss during the summer and I think they come back with a lot of skills," she said. "The kids that have had this science camp, they are raising their hands more because they have the answers." 
Carlow said the monthlong camp always runs smoothly and lauded her hardworking staff who make the program a success every year.
"The staff are the best teachers and the students are the best kids," she said. "Both were put together for success. We want the kids to have the attitude that they are someone who are important when they enter camp and when they leave."

Tags: Brayton School,   STEAM,   summer programs,   

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Lever Launches Second Mohawk Trail Entrepreneurship Challenge

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Lever will launch a second Mohawk Trail Entrepreneurship Challenge (MTEC) this month focusing on wood product enterprises, thanks to a $60,000 grant from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA). 
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