Students study science and technology during summer

(Aug. 8, 2014) Twenty-five young Worcester County students spent two weeks this summer learning how biomedical engineers work on improving designs and fixing appliances such as bed lifts and scanning machines in hospitals.

They also created and launched model rockets, learned about computer codes and drone technology, visited Atlantic General Hospital, Hardwire, a Pocomoke company that makes armor for a wide variety of uses, and NASA at Wallops Island.

The students, ages 12 to 15, were participating in the Reach for the Stars STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Camp at the Red Doors Community Center at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Ocean City concentrating on computer science and aerospace engineering. They talked about their experiences during the July 31 STEM Recognition Ceremony at the Ocean Pines Yacht Club.

“At Atlantic General Hospital, we learned how you can apply science and math to a lot of different health care careers,” said Kayla Smith, 13, of Berlin. “We learned that you can have different degrees concerning science, math, technology and engineering and still work in the medical field.”

Gavin Hartley, 13, of Bishopville, is particularly interested in science.

Ever since I was a kid, I knew that I wanted to become an engineer and a scientist,” Hartley said. “I loved to build with LEGOs and create new things and build ninja and Star Wars sets, plus constructing weapons and forts for action figures. I like weapons and explosions just like the next kid, but to be able to design something that would prevent or withstand real weapons would be my dream. All the science and physics going into design is why I want to be an engineer.”

Twenty-one older students participated in the related STEP UP STEM program. These students interned at Atlantic General Hospital, Card’s Computers, the Maryland Coastal Bays Foundation, Hardwire, the Ocean City Fire Marshal’s Office,, Eastern Shore Physical Therapy and other businesses.

Asia Mason of Pocomoke High School, who wants to become a pediatrician, spent her internship with Dr. Rider and Peninsula Cardiology, where she performed tests, observed minor surgery, learned how to give shots, talked with patients and learned about the business aspect of being a doctor.

“It was an enlightening and rewarding experience,” Mason said.

Shannon Mowbray of Snow Hill High School, whose career goal is to be a biomedical engineer, spent her internship at Eastern Shore Physical Therapy in Berlin. Someday, she hopes to make prosthetics that are more affordable.

Natalie Parks, a biology major at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, interned in the emergency room at Atlantic General Hospital where she shadowed physicians and others and learned how to build strong relationships.

“It was a phenomenal learning experience,” Parks said. “It validated my reasons for choosing this career path.”

Paige Stanley, a 2014 Pocomoke High School graduate who will attend Johns Hopkins University, was an intern in radiology at Atlantic General Hospital where she learned the importance of interpersonal skills and gained “a realistic grasp of issues facing healthcare today.”

This was the second year of the Worcester County-funded Reach for the Stars STEM Camp and STEP UP STEM programs.

In years past, some Worcester students could attend the STEM Enrichment Program at Wallops Island, but federal funds for that program were cut. County officials did not want the program to end so they funded the two programs, which are administered through the county Department of Economic Development. The department’s director, Bill Badger, worked with Brenda Dingwall, former administrator of the program at Wallops Island, on the program, which is coordinated by Ryan and Fawn Mete of the Red Doors Community Center.

“They made a magnificent program last year and followed up this year,” Worcester County Commissioner Judy Boggs said during the recognition ceremony.

“You young people are the future of Worcester County,” Boggs said. “You have remarkable intellect, energy and drive. Keep up the good work. These programs are just one of the two or three things I’m most proud of that I supported.”


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